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Eating for Two

Nutritional Tips During Pregnancy


Updated May 16, 2014

eating in pregnancy

Being pregnant may bring a lot of changes to your daily life. One of the most common and major changes are dietary habit changes. Even if you had a healthy diet prior to becoming pregnant, you may begin to look at what you eat and how you eat different now that you're expecting. Here are some tips to ensuring your diet is what it needs to be during pregnancy.

  • Remember the food pyramid? It's gone. But the My Plate is a great place to start. It helps you to eat more foods from the proper food groups. This visual representation is great. Many places have free handouts. It's a great tool to have for reference on the refrigerator.

  • Variety in your diet is very important. It helps ensure that you're gathering the daily doses of recommended vitamins and minerals every day from the foods you eat. It also helps prevent boredom with your diet which can lead to straying.

  • Bring on the water! Staying hydrated has many benefits for the healthy pregnancy, including avoidance of early labor, healthier skin (meaning more elastic), and general decrease in pregnancy symptoms that are annoying (constipation, swelling, etc.). Juice has a time and a place but the majority of your fluids should be water. Other "drinks" like soda, coffee, etc. should not be included in your daily count of 6-8 eight ounce glasses a day.

  • Eat foods that remember where they came from! The closer to the source of the original food the better. For examples: green beans that are fresh contain more of the good stuff than those in a can; bananas are better than fried banana chips or a banana split!

  • Protein is the building block of every cell in your baby's body. Some studies have indicated that adequate protein intake (defined as 75 grams a day or more) can protect you against problems with ecclampsia, pregnancy induced hypertension and other disorders. It also ensures a great start for your baby.

  • Eat smaller frequent meals if you are plagued with nausea and/or vomiting problems or heartburn or reduced stomach space later in pregnancy. This grazing, as I call it, can also help level out blood sugar levels making you feel a bit better during the day. Some women even find grabbing a handful of crackers or nuts on one of your midnight bathroom breaks to help with dizziness upon waking or nausea.

  • Keep a food log if you're having problems with your diet. It's a lot easier than trying to remember what you ate and can give you a good idea of the variety you're taking in.

  • Remember that pregnancy weight gain is a necessary part of pregnancy. Do not diet or restrict foods without discussing this with your practitioner first. Eating well during pregnancy will ensure that the pounds gained go towards the benefit of the pregnancy and are more easily shed when pregnancy and lactation are done.

  • Prenatal vitamins are not meant to replace the foods you eat. Rather they are there to help ensure that you're intake is adequate. You can take too many vitamins and certain vitamins (like Vitamin A) can cause birth defects in large quantities. Be sure to show any vitamin supplement to your practitioner prior to taking it in pregnancy.

  • Junk food. It's not very practical to believe that you won't touch and junk food during pregnancy. A more realistic approach is to watch portion sizes and to avoid going overboard. It's easy to think of being pregnant as the time to put on as much weight as you want, but that does go within reason. However, having desserts or splurging a few times a week is not going to make or break the health of most pregnancies. Develop a healthy attitude towards the sweets and fatty foods in your life and the habit will take you a long way even after baby is born!

  • Special needs you may have might alter what you need as far as nutritional requirements go. This might be anemia (low iron), multiple pregnancy, teen pregnancy, diabetes, etc. Ask your practitioner if you have special needs for your dietary habits. Ask to see a nutritionist to help you with questions you may have.

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