Healthy Diet

A healthy diet consists of well-balanced meals at each meal. A well-balanced meal includes a combination of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, as well as a variety of colors.

Carbohydrates – bread, pasta, rice, starchy vegetables, some fruit

  • It is important to focus on eating complex carbohydrates instead of simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are commonly found in sweet foods and can be added to foods in the form of sugar, honey, or syrup. Processed foods such as cereal, chips, crackers, granola bars, candy, desserts, or beverages contain simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are found in whole wheat bread and pasta, oatmeal, potatoes, quinoa, and some fruits.
  • Why not simple carbohydrates? Simple carbohydrates are digested and absorbed rapidly providing a quick boost of energy. This quick boost also quickly drops, resulting in a craving for more sweet, sugary foods. It can also lead to rapid increases and decreases in blood glucose levels, which over time can cause insulin insensitivity, diabetes, and hormone imbalances. Simple carbohydrates are also high in calories and too much can lead to weight gain.

Proteins – beef, pork, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy (eggs, cheese, yogurt) beans, peas, nuts

  • Women tend to undereat protein, so it is important to focus on receiving enough protein in your meals.

Fats – meat, dairy, avocado, oil

  • It is important to focus on eating unsaturated fat from plant oils instead of saturated or trans fats. Ways to reduce unhealthy fats include baking or steaming food instead of frying or sauteing, trimming the fat from meats, and removing skin from poultry.
  • In women who are breastfeeding, it is important to attain a high level of fat in foods such as salmon, cod, tuna, avocados, and full-fat dairy (cheese, milk, etc.)

Examples of Well-Balanced Meals:

  • Breakfast – toast with peanut butter, frozen waffles with nut butter, hardboiled eggs, chicken sausage
  • Snack – nuts, beef jerky
  • Lunch – whole wheat bread sandwich with hardboiled egg, avocado, and cheese
  • Dinner – baked salmon and broccoli with rice

It can be overwhelming to make changes to your diet. Start by discussing small changes you can make with your provider, such as switching from white to whole wheat bread or incorporating more protein and less simple carbohydrates into your breakfast. If you live with someone else, discuss making these changes together for accountability.

More information and resources can be found on the CDC Website: Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight.

All information is provided by:

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Healthy Diet

Optimizing Nutrition for Pregnancy and Postpartum with Katy Spencer