What to eat when pregnant

Pregnancy is a wonderful and precious time. During the miraculous months of feeling the baby grow a little bigger each week, your body is getting ready to bring a new person into the world. Throughout these nine months it is imperative to fulfill all of the nutritional requirements that are needed for these bodily changes and baby development. Before we can discuss the proper diet, it is important to understand proper nutrition techniques to exercise during pregnancy.

Eating For Two
Being pregnant does not require you to eat twice the amount of what you’re eating now, nor is it an excuse to do so. About 300 extra calories per day will do the trick of supplying the proper nutrients to fulfill your body’s and your baby’s needs. While these extra calories can be consumed quite easily through a variety of foods, it is very important to get the calories from nutritious sources. The baby doesn’t need donuts, regular sodas, or French fries to grow; the baby needs the healthy nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that come from carbohydrates, proteins, and good fats. On the flip side, don’t ever diet when you’re pregnant. This will result in an improperly growing fetus and will be detrimental to the baby’s health in the short and long term.

Nutrition During Pregnancy
Aside from taking a prenatal vitamin with calcium, iron, and folic acid, getting these and other nutrients through food is the best way. A healthy diet for a pregnant woman is the same as a healthy diet for a non-pregnant person, but the former requires extra calories and the assurance of getting all of the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Spread your intake throughout the whole day to “feed the baby” every few hours.

Proper Weight Gain
Healthy weight gain during pregnancy is around 25-35 pounds. However, there are variances to this because if you were underweight before pregnancy, you should gain a little more in order to support the baby (28-40 pounds), and if you were overweight before pregnancy you should gain a little less (15-25 pounds). No matter what, the weight should come on gradually. The first trimester will have the least amount of weight gain, around 5 pounds, and the second and third trimesters will have a larger number of pounds gained because this is a crucial time for the growing baby. Although the baby only accounts for a small portion of this total gain, other parts of your body are changing as well. The distribution is similar to this:
1. Baby: 7 – 8 pounds
2. Placenta, uterus, amniotic fluid: 2 pounds each
3. Breasts: 1 – 2 pounds
4. Blood Volume: 2.5 – 4 pounds
5. Fat, protein, other nutrients: 5 – 7 pounds
6. Tissue, Fluid: 4 – 7 pounds

The Right Foods
Finally, to the good part. If I’m pregnant, what CAN I eat? That is a very good question since a balanced diet is especially important during pregnancy; eating empty calories is not. There are guidelines for proper nutrition. The American Dietetic Association says a pregnant woman should get 2,200-2,900 calories per day.

  • Carbohydrates/Whole grains (6-11 servings): Potatoes, breads, crackers, pasta, cereal, and brown rice.
  • Lean Protein (3 servings): Turkey, chicken, lean ground beef, tofu, nuts, dried beans, fish, and pork.
  • Good Fats (less than 30% of total calories): Low-fat foods such as cheese, yogurt, milk, cottage cheese. Unsaturated fat sources include olive oil, canola oil, almonds, walnuts, pecans, avocado, and fish.
  • Vegetables (at least 4 servings): Dark green leafy vegetables, carrots, bell peppers, zucchini; any vegetables are a healthy source for many vitamins and minerals.
  • Fruits (2-4 servings): Go for fruit that is not very acidic to prevent heartburn. Apples, pears, grapes, peaches, nectarines, berries, and melon.
  • High-Fiber Foods: Whole-grain breads, vegetables, fruits, rice, and beans.
  • Calcium-rich Foods (1,000-1,300 mg/day): Yogurt, milk, broccoli, spinach, and cheese.
  • Iron-rich Foods (27 mg/day): Red meat, eggs, tuna, green leafy vegetables, tofu, and soy products.
  • Folic Acid Rich Foods (0.4 mg/day): Dark green leafy vegetables and lentils.
  • Choose leaner foods when you have the option to reduce fat intake.
  • Avoid alcohol at all costs during pregnancy because this can result in permanent birth defects.
  • Try to limit caffeine intake.
  • While fish is listed as a good source of many of the above nutrients, do not make fish your first choice. Especially avoid fish with high levels of mercury, such as shark and swordfish.
  • If you’re stuck with nausea, try your best to eat. You don’t ever want to go for long periods without eating, or lose weight during pregnancy. Go for bland foods that won’t upset your stomach.
  • Talk with your physician about a prenatal vitamin that will supplement your diet for any possible deficiencies you might have.
Last updated on Jun 15th, 2010 and filed under Healthy Eating. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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