A Healthy Pregnancy Diet

By: Julie Fletcher

Proper nutrition for you and your baby is crucial during your pregnancy. Your body will be giving your developing baby everything she will need if you consume the right amount of calories and vitamins.

Eating For Two?

You have probably heard the phrase ‘Eating for two.’ It is still a popular belief that pregnant women can eat much more than normal, though this is not completely true. While you will feel an increase in hunger, most of the time you will be unable to really put away a huge amount of food as popularized by books, TV, and movies. To maintain healthy development for your baby and to stay in good health yourself, you only need 300 to 500 extra calories a day. There are many foods that can fill that requirement in only one or two servings, but making nutritious choices are a better bet in the pregnancy game.

Fiber is an important addition to your diet. You will need to up your intake of iron and the prenatal vitamins provided by clinics, doctors, and hospitals are notorious among pregnant women for helping to aggravate the constipation problem known to all pregnant women. Fiber will help relieve any constipation issues if included in your diet.

Healthy Choices
Here is a list of nutrients and the best types of foods for each.

„P Protein:  Find it in lean meats, fish, poultry, beans, peanut butter
„P Carbohydrates: Find them in bread, cereal, rice, potatoes, pasta, fruit, and vegetables
„P Calcium: dairy products, spinach, supplements
„P Iron: Find it in red meats, spinach, and foods fortified with iron
„P Vitamin A: Can be found in carrots, dark leafy greens like collards, and sweet potatoes
„P Vitamin C: Can be found in citrus, broccoli, tomatoes, and juices
„P Vitamin B6: Find it in pork, whole grain cereal, and bananas
„P Vitamin B12: Can be found in meat, fish, dairy, or supplements
„P Vitamin D: Fortified foods. The best source of D is exposure to the sun, 15 minutes a day.
„P Folic Acid: Find this very important vitamin in green leafy veggies, dark yellow fruits/veggies, beans, and nuts.
„P Fat: Healthy fats can be found in meats, whole milk, nuts, butter, and vegetable oils.

Building Blocks For A Healthy Baby

All of the foods listed contain the nutrients you need to lay a proper foundation for a healthy baby. Scientists have found that certain nutrients are very important when it comes to preventing possible problems with the development of your growing baby. One key nutrient is Folic Acid. This nutrient has been proven to help prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida. If you are planning to become pregnant, get as much of this nutrient as possible before and during the first few weeks of pregnancy.

Calcium is important, not only for your baby, but for you as well. Eating foods that boost your calcium intake, along with Vitamin D, will allow your baby to get the calcium she needs. If you do not ingest enough extra calcium, your body will leech calcium from your bones. This can lead to weak bones and contribute to osteoporosis later in life. Vitamin D will increase the absorption of calcium in your body.

Foods To Avoid

Feeling hungry is a normal part of pregnancy. At times nausea will keep you from eating and later in pregnancy your uterus will have become large enough to restrict the amount you can eat during meals. Eating more meals throughout the day in smaller portions can help this feeling of hunger. You may become tempted to grab a quick snack to fill your tummy, but try to avoid those empty calories. Some of foods you eat normally may even be better avoided due to threats of food borne illness. Listeriosis and toxoplasmosis can even cause birth defects or miscarriage.

Watch Out For:

„P Soft cheeses that are unpasteurized: Brie, Feta, and other cheeses advertised as ‘fresh’.
„P Unpasteurized milk, juice, or apple cider
„P Raw meat
„P Raw eggs or foods with raw eggs as an ingredient
„P Processed meats like hot dogs or ‘cold cuts’.
„P Fish high in mercury content, shark, swordfish, and other predatory fish (includes tuna)
„P Caffeinated beverages
„P Alcohol

Perhaps you are wondering where all the weight gain will come from. You’ve seen the healthy choices outlined above and know what to avoid, now. The recommended foods look wonderful, like the perfect diet for someone who is very thin. So…where in the world does that 25 to 35 pounds come from, anyway? Your baby will only weight about seven to eight pounds, right? Well, here is a breakdown of the weight gained, pound by pound. (Give or take a bit for slightly larger or smaller babies)

„P 7.5 pounds: baby
„P 7 pounds: stored protein, fat, nutrients
„P 4 pounds: extra blood
„P 4 pounds: other extra body fluids
„P 2 pounds: breast enlargement
„P 2 pounds: enlargement of the uterus
„P 2 pounds: amniotic fluid
„P 1.5 pounds: placenta

Wow, that is a lot of extras! By eating healthy and getting enough exercise, you can gain just the right amount of weight and enjoy the pregnancy. Even if you gain extra, this is not the time to begin a diet or try to lose weight at all. After delivery you will be able to find ways to lose weight safely. In fact, just breastfeeding will help burn off excess calories and fat. Until then, eat well and be happy.

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