Healthy Eating

During your pregnancy, healthy foods and good nutrition are keys to you and your baby’s health. Make sure you include a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy in your everyday meal plan. While you do get to eat for two (and maybe sneak in some ice cream now and then) the recommended increase in your daily diet is about 300 calories than normal. In addition to a healthy diet, it is very important to get all of the recommended nutrients for your baby by taking a prenatal vitamin supplement. If you aren’t sure what kind to take, ask your doctor and they can recommend one for you.

Things to enjoy

  • Fiber- To avoid constipation and hemorrhoids, you should have plenty of fiber in your diet. Sources of fiber include whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Fiber also fills you up without adding unnecessary calories so you can be full without binging.
  • Calcium- You should be getting 1000-1300 mg of calcium per day. Calcium rich foods include orange juice, milk, yogurt, cheese, spinach, and calcium-fortified cereal. If you aren’t getting enough calcium from what you eat and drink, you should consider a calcium supplement. Always talk to your doctor before adding any supplements to your daily routine.
  • Iron- Your body needs about 27mg of iron per day. Yummy sources of iron include iron-fortified cereal, beans, spinach, meat, and poultry. If you are not getting enough iron from your diet, you should consider taking a supplement that will provide you with the remaining iron. Iron is important for your body because it is used to make hemoglobin in your blood. During pregnancy your blood volume doubles – also doubling your need for iron.
  • Folate and Folic Acid- Folate is a B vitamin that helps prevent neural tube defects, which cause abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord. Insufficient folate in your diet will increase the risk of health complications like preterm delivery and low birth weight. You should have 800 mg of folate or folic acid per day. A supplement is recommended in addiction to a folic acid heavy diet. Good sources of folate and folic acid are fortified cereals, leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits and juices, and dried beans.

Things to avoid

  • Alcohol- The consumption of alcohol while pregnant leads to fetal alcohol syndrome, premature birth, low birth weight, birth defects, and mental retardation.
  • Caffeine- You do not have to cut this out completely. Limit your caffeine intake to 300 mg per day. That is the equivalent of 2 cups of coffee or 4 cups of tea or 5 sodas. Don’t forget that chocolate contains caffeine too. One chocolate bar contains the same amount of caffeine as a quarter cup of coffee.
  • Excessive fats and cholesterol- Don’t cut fats out completely because it’s important to have some good fats in your diet. The total amount of fat that you eat should be 30% or less of your daily calories. So, if your doctor recommends a 2,000 calorie per day diet, then you should not have more than 65 grams of fat per day. Try to also limit your cholesterol intake to 300 mg or less per day.
  • Seafood- Not all seafood is bad for pregnant women, but sushi, clams, oysters, shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish (also called white snapper) are not good to consume. They contain high levels of mercury that are dangerous to your developing baby. If you’re not sure what’s safe, ask your doctor.

Foods that make you feel better

  • Morning sickness- If you are feeling nauseous and/or vomiting, try to calm your tummy with bland foods like crackers, cereal, or pretzels. To keep your stomach happy throughout the day, enjoy a variety of small meals. Avoid fatty, greasy, and fried foods.
  • Constipation- Fiber and good hydration will solve your constipation problems. Be sure that you are drinking 6-8 glasses of water per day and enjoy fiber rich foods like whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. You can also take a fiber supplement if the problem persists.
  • Diarrhea- If you have diarrhea, you need to keep yourself well hydrated. You should also incorporate into your diet foods that contain gums and pectin to help absorb excess water. Sources of these gums and pectins are applesauce, bananas, white rice, oatmeal, and refined white bread.
  • Heartburn- To calm the uncomfortable burning sensation, drink milk and try chewing an antacid tablet. To avoid getting heartburn, eat small, frequent meals, limit citric beverages, and spicy foods. Also try drinking milk before you eat.

Always talk with your doctor if you are aren’t sure what foods or supplements are best for you and your baby.