One of your primary concerns during pregnancy should be how to eat healthy. Basically, you need to make sure you’re eating a diet that provides the proper nutrition for both you and your baby, and allows for a healthy weight gain during your pregnancy. There are several important factors to maintaining a healthy diet while pregnant.
If you’re already eating healthy before you become pregnant, you’ll only need to make a few changes to your diet to be able to meet the new demands of your body. If you aren’t yet a healthy eater, be aware that foods from all five food groups should be included in your healthy pregnancy eating plan. The amount of each food group you’ll need depends on your specific calorie needs. For more information, check out MyPyramid.gov to learn more about your specific needs and to print out an eating plan.
Sometimes, you’ll hear women say they’re “eating for two” when pregnant. This is not actually the case – you’ll need to increase your intake of healthy foods, but this doesn’t mean that you’re doubling the number of calories you consume in a day. Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats are especially important during this time. However, you also need to limit your intake of sugars and fats – which is especially important if you’re at risk for gestational diabetes.
Many doctors agree that if you eat a balanced diet of healthy foods, you’ll get most of your recommended daily allowances of vitamins and minerals. The exceptions include iron and folate. Therefore, when you’re pregnant, you’ll need to take a multivitamin to ensure that the proper nutrients are available for you and your baby.
Concentrate on consuming foods that are high in folic acid, especially before you get pregnant and during the first trimester. Folic acid helps reduce the risks of certain birth defects, such as spina bifida. Folic acid can be found naturally in citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, beans, and nuts. In addition, many physicians recommend a prenatal vitamin that contains at lease 400 mcg of folic acid once daily.
Most health experts also recommend upping your milk intake – as long as you aren’t drinking whole milk. While pregnant, you need at least 400 mg more of calcium each day than you normally do. Two cups of milk or one and a half ounces of cheese will provide the minimum requirements of calcium per day.
Another important thing to remember is to drink plenty of fluids – especially water – during your pregnancy. Dehydration and constipation are often very common problems during this time and eight glasses of water a day will help prevent these uncomfortable situations.
Try not to deny yourself your cravings. You’ve probably heard horror stories about women who gain 60 pounds during their pregnancies due to their out-of-control cravings. However, if you allow yourself a reasonably small portion of the food, you may find that your craving subsides more quickly than if you prevent yourself from indulging at all.
Finally, one of the best pieces of advice out there is to simply use good judgment when you’re eating during your pregnancy. Eat several small meals during the day to help prevent heartburn, which is also common in pregnant women. As your tummy grows, you appetite will as well. Be sure you’re satiating it with something that’s good for the baby and for you.