Although we sometimes take advantage of our bodies and feed them with snack foods, too much coffee, doughnuts, and takeout, when it comes to nutrition during pregnancy, you have to be more careful. Your food is the main source of your baby’s growth and affects his or her future health and development.
Eating for two doesn’t mean doubling your calorie intake. Overeating during pregnancy can lead to acid reflux, indigestion, and a lot of extra weight that is going to be hard to shed post-partum. In fact, the CDC recommends that if you are starting your pregnancy already overweight (BMI>25), you only need to gain up to a maximum of 25 pounds or up to 50 pounds if you are pregnant with twins. If you are starting your pregnancy and are obese according to the BMI measurement (BMI>30), you should aim for a maximum weight gain of 20 pounds.
So what should you be eating?
Your diet should be balanced and contain a variety of foods including:
- Fruits and vegetables such as cantaloupe, honeydew, mangoes, prunes, bananas, apricots, oranges, red or pink grapefruit, strawberries, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, cooked greens, tomatoes, and red sweet peppers.
- Green leafy veggies such as spinach, kale, and brussel sprouts
- Low-fat (or fat-free) yogurts and milk
- Lean meats including beef, lamb, and pork
- Oily fish like salmon, herring, and sardines
- Nuts and seeds
- Legumes (peas and beans)
Avoid the following foods during pregnancy:
- Unpasteurized milk and foods made with unpasteurized milk such as cheeses or yogurts
- Hot dogs
- Raw seafood or meat (or those which haven’t been fully cooked)
- Uncooked eggs (even in ice cream!)
- Sushi made with raw fish (don’t worry–you can still enjoy your sushi with cooked fish or veggies)
- Refrigerated pâté, meat spreads, and refrigerated smoked seafood
- Alcoholic beverages or any food containing alcohol
No amount of supplements is ever going to replace a healthy, balanced diet. The thinking behind vitamin and mineral supplements is that a lot of us don’t generally eat healthy, balanced diets. Whether we rely on pop-tarts for breakfast or takeout for dinners, pregnancy nausea and cravings make it that much harder. It takes a lot of focus and effort to ensure you are getting your nutritional needs solely from food. That’s why doctors recommend taking a prenatal multivitamin and folic acid. In fact, folic acid should be taken while you are trying to conceive and for at least the first trimester, because it prevents neural tube defects (like spina bifida) in your growing baby. Although folic acid is found in foods such as green leafy vegetables,nuts, beans, and citrus fruits, it’s hard to get enough folic acid just from food. That’s why taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid is so important.
The prenatal multivitamin will include calcium and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, D, E, zinc, iron, and iodine. It will fill in spaces in your diet where nutrients are lacking and will help to ensure a healthy pregnancy; just don’t go overboard. As they say, “Too much of a good thing is no good at all.”
Ensuring your nutrition during pregnancy is not always the easiest, but it is essential to guarantee your baby a healthy and happy future.