Pregnancy brings up new conversations about healthy eating and appropriate diets. Sometimes, women worry about the added pounds that come with pregnancy but dieting to lose weight could be harmful to your baby and may negatively impact your health. On the other hand, too many of the wrong types of calories can increase the risk of gestational diabetes and complications with your pregnancy or the birth of your baby. During the last two trimesters of the pregnancy, you’ll need an extra 350 to 500 calories, but you shouldn’t just fill up on junk food.
Research Foods With a Healthy Impact
You’re probably already familiar with well-known nutrition tips such as increasing your intake of vegetables and decreasing the fats and sugars in your diet. As you focus on healthy eating over the next several months, research those foods that are really beneficial during pregnancies.
For example, when you make a salad, throw in some peas or kidney beans. Legumes are packed with fiber, protein, iron, calcium, and folate – nutrients that are essential to the health of your baby. Although federal nutrition guidelines call for several servings of bread, a slice of white toast isn’t good enough. Switch it out for a whole grain bread with high protein content.
Get Plenty of Fiber
The dietary guidelines for nutrition in the United States recommend 25 grams of fiber each day, but most people’s diets fall way below that amount. Fiber from whole grain products, beans, rice, vegetables, and fruit will help you avoid the discomfort of constipation. Eating the right amount of soluble and insoluble fiber may also decrease your risk of heart disease and diabetes, lower your cholesterol levels, and help you live longer and feel better. If you’re struggling to get enough fiber in your diet, consider asking your doctor about supplements.
Increase the Dairy in Your Diet
Milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, and other calcium-rich dairy products are vital for the strength of your bones and for the development of bones in your growing baby. If you’re familiar with your Pregnancy timeline, you may be aware that during the third trimester your baby is using as much as 350 milligrams of calcium every day. As baby’s need for calcium increases, so will yours, naturally. Your prenatal vitamin may provide up to a third of the recommended daily dosage of calcium, so you’ll need to add it in other ways. Even a bowl of ice cream could help once in a while.
Track Specific Nutrients
Vitamins and minerals perform different functions in your body. During your pregnancy, you’ll need more of some. For example, you should have 80 to 85 milligrams of vitamin C, 400 micrograms of folic acid, 1000 milligrams of calcium, 27 milligrams of iron, and 220 micrograms of iodine each day. (A microgram is one-millionth of a gram and a milligram is one-thousandth of a gram.)
Once you know how much of each nutrient you need, search out those foods that provide it. For example, spinach, beans, and meat are excellent sources of protein. During fetal development, babies without adequate amounts of protein suffered from increased risks of jaundice, respiratory distress syndrome, and low birth weights, among other things. Eat plenty of dark green leafy veggies for folate that prevents neural tube defects.
Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
A successful pregnancy diet plan should also include a list of foods you should not eat while pregnant. These include alcohol, saccharin, high amounts of caffeine, mercury-rich fish, soft cheeses, and raw fish, for example. It’s also important to limit your cholesterol and fat intake. However, the development of baby’s brain relies on fats from the mother, so as you keep on eye on your fat intake, make sure you don’t completely cut it out of your diet. It’s also important to remember there are healthier types of fat than others. For example, an avocado provides several nutrients in addition to healthy fats, as opposed to the empty calories and fats in a doughnut.
Good for You and for Your Baby
During your pregnancy, it’s important to make sure your body has the right minerals, nutrients, and vitamins for your continuing health and for the healthy development of your baby. An appropriate diet over the course of the next eight to nine months is about planning and preparing meals and snacks that provide critical nutrients. In addition to helping you maintain a healthy weight and providing the nutrients your baby needs, enjoying a nutrient-rich diet during your pregnancy will help you feel your best as the day of delivery gets closer.