Meal Plan for Low Iron
Getting adequate iron is important to your health not only during the first 1,000 days (the first day of your pregnancy through your child’s second birthday) but also throughout life. Incorporating iron-rich whole foods into your diet will serve you well.
We need extra iron during pregnancy to make more blood to supply oxygen to baby. Additionally, baby uses iron to build up stores that he relies on until six months of age.Too little iron can be problematic for baby’s brain development and leave you anemic. Our body relies on dietary intake as we cannot make iron. An adult woman should consume 18mg a day, whereas a pregnant woman’s needs increase to 27mg a day to support fetal growth and create stores in advance of losses during delivery.
Good sources of iron include: red meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs, legumes, green leafy vegetables, nuts, fortified breakfast cereals, and fortified whole grains. Your body best absorbs plant sources of iron, such as spinach, if you consume these foods with a good source of vitamin C.
Constipation is a common side effect of supplemental iron (from either your prenatal vitamin or if your doctor has recommended you take an additional iron supplement). To help ease the constipation supplemental iron can cause, be sure to eat a high fiber diet (think fruits, veggies, and whole grains), drink plenty of water, and engage in exercise if given the okay by your physician.
Choosing meals and snacks from the options listed below can help you meet your iron needs.
- Option 1: Oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts
- Option 2: Bran cereal with banana, low-fat milk and flaxseeds
- Option 3: Whole grain toast with nut butter and 100% fruit spread
- Option 4: Quinoa breakfast bowl with chopped dates and sunflower seeds, and a drizzle of peanut butter.
- Option 5: Eggs scrambled with spinach and tomatoes; orange slices
- Option 1: Dark leafy greens, raw veggies, and grilled chicken; cup of black bean soup
- Option 2: Whole grain tortilla, black beans, salsa, shredded cheese; dark leafy green salad
- Option 3: Quinoa salad tossed with tomatoes, feta cheese, cucumbers, lemon juice, olive oil and chopped chicken breast on a bed of spinach
- Option 4: Whole grain pita stuffed with light tuna* and vegetables
- Option 5: Hamburger, made with lean ground beef on a whole grain bun or wrapped in lettuce, with broccoli and baked sweet potato fries
- Option 1: Chicken, turkey, or beef, with sweet potato and broccoli
- Option 2: Baked cod on bed of wilted swiss chard in garlic and oil, side of wild rice
- Option 3: Grilled pork chop with applesauce, and spinach and white beans sautéed in garlic and oil
- Option 4: Stir fried shrimp with rice and veggies to include broccoli, red peppers, and cauliflower. Cook using sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger and a drizzle of hoisin sauce to taste
- Option 5: Chicken or beef with tomato sauce and whole grain pasta
- Option 1: Peanuts and raisins
- Option 2: Edamame
- Option 3: Vegetables and hummus
- Option 4: Trail mix made with: dried fruit pieces, 1 oz dark chocolate, and popcorn
- Option 5: Whole grain toast with nut butter
*Pregnant women should eat no more than 6 ounces of high mercury fish per week
For more on this topic, check out the following articles and recipes: