Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Review: What to Eat When You're Pregnant

Food is perhaps one of the hardest issues for women to deal with while they are pregnant. How important is good nutrition during pregnancy? What foods are healthiest for my growing baby? How much extra do I need to be eating every day--am I really "eating for two"?

Some of these answers, of course, are generally different for every woman and every pregnancy, but there are a number of things that are true no matter what. Author Nicole M. Avena seeks to provide the answers mamas-to-be seek with her new book, What to Eat When You're Pregnant.

Avena is a doctor with extensive experience in the field of nutrition, but she found herself in brand new territory. She knew that nutrition was certainly important for a growing baby, but felt that the information available to pregnant women was "confusing, limited, and overwhelmingly focused on the negatives: avoid this, avoid that." What Avena wanted to know was what she should eat. And why.

What to Eat When You're Pregnant does an admirable job of addressing prenatal nutrition in an extremely comprehensive, straightforward manner. Avena addresses the issue of weight gain head on, talking about why it's important to gain enough but not too much, offering general guidelines for the amount a woman should gain throughout pregnancy, and even providing a handy run-down of where exactly all those extra pounds go. An entire chapter is devoted to a number of important nutrients that must be obtained in ample quantities throughout pregnancy, including what those nutrients do, how much you need, and some good sources of each.

Three chapters are devoted to detailing exactly what foods are most helpful during pregnancy, trimester by trimester. Avena discusses how baby is growing every week and then highlights a specific healthy food suggestion, one which happens to contain nutrients that are especially important for that particular stage in fetal growth. Better yet, Avena offers recipes so that pregnant mamas have no excuses for not trying out these healthy foods! Recipes include Easy Seasoned Lentils (a great source of folate, fiber, protein, and more); No-Bake Honey Almond Cereal Bars (almonds contain plenty of healthy fats, iron, and protein); Slow Cooker Pasta Sauce with Roasted Red Peppers, Artichoke Hearts, and Chickpeas (chickpeas are packed with protein, complex carbs, fiber, and iron); and Spaghetti Squash with Basil, Cheese, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes (cheese contains plenty of protein and calcium).

The last few chapters discuss cravings, avoiding unnecessary weight gain, and losing excess weight after baby is born. Also included are a few appendices, such as a list of specific foods to avoid, a brief guide to good nutrition while breastfeeding, and how certain medical conditions may affect food choices.

This book is extremely well researched, with an extensive list of sources in the back as well as a fantastic index to help readers find specific sections with ease (although a specific recipe index would be an excellent addition as well!). There are recipes in here to appeal to most anyone's palate, including both vegetarian and meat-eating options. The entire book is very user-friendly; Avena writes in a pleasant, conversational tone and provides plenty of important information without overwhelming readers. There are some foods I wish had been included (such as dates or walnuts, or perhaps other whole grains like amaranth or buckwheat), and as a vegan I personally found a lot of the recipes unsuitable for my own use. But there were plenty of others that might make their way onto an upcoming meal plan.

What to Eat When You're Pregnant is definitely recommended for mamas-to-be who are interested in learning more about eating well throughout pregnancy.


I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own!

This post was shared at the Healthy, Happy, Green, and Natural Party Blog Hop on 1/25/2016.


  1. So helpful! Optimum nutrition is so important when pregnant! Thank you for sharing your review of What to Eat When You're Pregnant at the Healthy Happy Green Natural Party! I'm Pinning and sharing this!