Meal Plan for Building Strong Bones

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Calcium is a mineral stored in our bones and teeth that helps to keep them strong. It also helps build your baby’s bones and teeth, therefore women trying to conceive and those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should make sure they are getting adequate calcium. Research increasingly recognizes that vitamin D is also important to bone health, enhancing the absorption of calcium in your body.

High calcium foods include dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese), kale, broccoli, collards, Chinese cabbage (bok choy), canned salmon, canned bone-in sardines, almonds, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, tahini, dried beans, blackstrap molasses and fortified foods such as cereal, orange juice, non-dairy beverages such as soy and almond milk, and tofu.

You can get vitamin D from the sun, dietary supplements and a few food sources. While few foods in nature contain Vitamin D, fatty fish and cod liver oil (cod liver oil is not recommended during pregnancy) do contain Vitamin D.  Additionally, Vitamin D can be found in smaller amounts in beef liver, egg yolks, cheese and tofu. Foods fortified with vitamin D such as milk, yogurt, orange juice and cereals can also be a good source.

Pro tips:

  • If your infant is exclusively breastfed, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends supplementation with 400 IU of vitamin D. Discuss with your doctor before starting any supplements.

The below meal, snack and recipe ideas will help you choose foods that will up your Calcium and vitamin D intake.

Breakfast

  • Option 1: Plain low-fat Greek yogurt topped with chopped figs and sunflower seeds
  • Option 2: Fortified whole grain oat, cold cereal with banana and milk or milk alternative
  • Option 3: Whole grain toast with nut or sunflower butter topped with sliced strawberries
  • Option 4: Scrambled eggs with sautéed spinach with fortified orange juice
  • Option 5: Fortified instant oatmeal with milk or milk alternative and berries

Lunch

  • Option 1: Shredded Kale salad tossed with chopped chicken, almond slivers, dried cranberries, lemon juice, olive oil and shredded parmesan cheese
  • Option 2: Tuna wrap: whole grain tortilla stuffed with canned chunk light tuna*, and spinach
  • Option 3: Fajita bowl: layer brown rice, pinto beans, chopped tomatoes and diced peppers. Top with guacamole
  • Option 4: Whole grain pita stuffed with canned salmon, lettuce, tomatoes, lemon juice and dill with sliced apple and kiwi
  • Option 5: Tofu stir-fried with zucchini, peppers, yellow squash. Serve over quinoa

Dinner

  • Option 1: Whole grain pasta with ground chicken, marinara and spinach or collard greens
  • Option 2: Grilled turkey burger on whole grain bun, steamed broccoli
  • Option 3: Grilled or baked salmon, kale salad, roasted butternut squash
  • Option 4: Whole grain or corn tortilla tacos stuffed with sautéed shrimp and white beans. Top with salsa
  • Option 5: Egg hash: Sauté diced sweet potatoes, broccoli, onions and white beans. Top with over-hard eggs.

Snacks

  • Option 1: Hardboiled egg and a kiwi
  • Option 2: Almonds and dried figs
  • Option 3: Cottage cheese topped with sliced almonds and berries
  • Option 4: Hummus and sliced veggies
  • Option 5: Turkey** and Swiss Cheese Roll-Up with apple slices

*Pregnant women should eat no more than 6 ounces of high mercury fish per week

**If pregnant and using deli turkey, be sure to heat in pan or microwave until steaming

 

For more on this topic, check out the following articles:

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Serve Up Those Superfoods

Serve Up Those Superfoods

Serve Up Those Superfoods

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