The Do’s and Don’ts of Eating during Pregnancy

9/18/10 by Nativity Lennon

Photo courtesy of Pink Sherbet Photography via Flickr

I remember that during my first pregnancy, I was very cautious about what I ate.  But surprisingly, my friends and family encouraged me to eat junk food.  They told me that I needed to consume extra calories for my baby, so that I could eat as many Twinkies and donuts as I wanted to.  But I knew that in order to keep my baby healthy, I would have to eat well during pregnancy, and I’m glad I did.  Sure, the doctor said I had to consume 300 calories more per day than usual, but I didn’t want to fill my baby up with empty calories, so I only consumed foods that were packed with nutrients.  In fact, I think I ate healthier food when I was pregnant than I did before my pregnancy!

I’m glad I didn’t eat whatever I wanted during pregnancy because not only did I give birth to a healthy and beautiful baby boy, I also gained only 25 pounds during my pregnancy.  I was able to lose the extra weight very quickly after giving birth. On the other hand, I had friends who got pregnant around the same time who gained 50-60 pounds during their pregnancies.  They’re overweight now and are having a lot of trouble shedding the extra pounds.

In order to help other pregnant women stay at a healthy weight while providing their unborn babies with the best nourishment possible, I decided to create this list of do’s and don’ts for eating during pregnancy:

DO:

Eat a variety of foods to ensure that you get the recommended daily doses of vitamins and minerals that you need throughout pregnancy.  Eating a variety of foods prevents you from getting bored and straying from a healthy diet.

Limit fish consumption to twice a week because all fish contains traces of mercury.  But don’t cut fish out of your diet completely because fish contains high quality protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and is low in saturated fat.

Eat whole grain bread, cereal, and pasta.  Whole grains are important sources of dietary fiber, minerals, and B vitamins.

Eat a variety of iron-rich foods to ensure that you get the required minimum of 27mg of iron each day.  Iron-rich foods include liver, beans, greens (e.g. kale, spinach, and turnip greens), egg yolks, nuts, and tofu.

Keep a food log if you’re concerned about whether or not you’re getting enough nutrients.  When you write everything down, it’ll be easier for you to determine if your pregnancy diet has enough variety.

Eat at least one food item per day that is rich in folic acid.  Women need to eat at least 0.4mg of folic acid during pregnancy to help prevent their babies from developing neural tube defects.  Foods that are rich in folic acid include leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, beans, and whole grains.

Eat small meals frequently during your pregnancy to keep your blood sugar levels stable and to prevent nausea and vomiting.

Stay hydrated.  Drinking water can lessen uncomfortable symptoms during pregnancy and prevent complications from arising.

DON’T:

Take prenatal vitamins to replace healthy, nutritious foods in your diet.  Prenatal vitamins should only be taken to ensure that you’re getting enough of the nutrients you need.

Eat deli meat, including hot dogs.  Deli meats could be contaminated with listeria, a type of bacteria that can cause stillbirth or miscarriage.

Eat raw meat and seafood because it could be contaminated with listeria or salmonella.

Eat fish high in mercury, such as tilefish, mackerel, and swordfish.

Eat unpasteurized soft cheese, like blue cheese, feta, brie, and camembert cheese because it could contain harmful bacteria.

Eat an excessive amount of junk food.  It will probably be impossible for you to avoid junk food altogether, but you should watch your portion sizes and set limits.

Restrict foods while you’re pregnant without talking with your doctor first.  Remember: weight gain is a normal and necessary part of pregnancy.

So, there you have it.  Eating well is important, whether you’re pregnant or not, but during pregnancy, it’s critical because your diet plays an important role in the health and development of your baby.  Feel free to print this list out and post it on your refrigerator, so it serves as a reminder when you’re cooking, or hopefully, when you’re husband is cooking for you!

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4 Responses to “The Do’s and Don’ts of Eating during Pregnancy”

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