Pregnancy nutrition is of the utmost importance. Good nutrition before and during pregnancy can affect your child for its entire life. Poor pregnancy nutrition contributes to a smaller baby, and can create health problems that might generate other problems after birth. Eating a well balanced diet before you conceive can help decrease early pregnancy symptoms, such as morning sickness, constipation, and fatigue.
Several things can be done to make sure you give your baby good pregnancy nutrition.
- Take a prenatal vitamin that is high in iron, calcium, and folic acid.
- Avoid skipping meals. Eat small, frequent meals.
- Eat a balanced pregnancy diet.
- Choose nutrient rich foods over junk food and empty calories.
Pregnancy Nutrition Must Haves
The best way to ensure you have good pregnancy nutrition is to eat a wide variety of foods that are high in the following:
- Calcium is necessary to build strong bones and teeth. Not only will it help with your baby's development, it can lower your risk for osteoporsis later in life. Calcium can be found in milk and milk byproducts, broccoli, fortified orange juice and soymilk, and tofu.
- Fiber helps prevent constipation and hemorrhoids that often plague women during pregnancy. Fiber rich foods include whole grain products, pastas, nuts, apples, pears, berries, and potatoes.
- Folate helps prevent neural-tube defects that may occur during early pregnancy. Folate-rich foods include orange juice, spinach, lentils, fortified pasta, grains, and broccoli.
- Protein helps with the natural development of a growing fetus. Protein can be found in meat, soy, dairy products, lentils, beans, nuts and peanut butter.
- Fat is necessary for the development of the baby's brain and central nervous system. Fat also provides a good source of energy for you and helps transport vitamins through your body. Fats can be found in nuts, meats, dairy products and even vegetables. Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids found in oil from oily fish and vegetable sources such as the oil from the seeds of chia, perilla, flax, purslane, hemp, and canola. Omega-3 fatty acids are classed as essential fatty acids
- Leafy greens and colorful fruits and vegetables provide fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
What Not to Eat
Good pregnancy nutrition is as much about what not to eat as it is about what to eat. Avoid the following foods and beverages:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Raw seafoods, including sushi, salmon, trout, whitefish, shark, mahi mahi, cod, tuna, swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, and shellfish-canned salmon and tuna are safe
- Unpasteurized milk and milk byproducts like soft cheeses, and fruit juice
- Hot dogs, lunchmeats, and other processed meats that are high in nitrates
- Raw and undercooked meats
- Excessive sugar and empty calories
How to Eat a Healthy Pregnancy Diet
- In general, avoid the empty calories that come with eating junk food, including chips and sugary sweets in preference for fresh fruits and vegetables, which are high in phytonutrients.
- Drink plenty of liquids. Water, juice, milk, and other drinks will increase the volume of blood pumping through your body. It will also help stave off the fatigue and constipation that commonly accompany pregnancy. A minimum of eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids is recommended each day.
- Avoid weight loss diets and accept the fact you need to gain weight during pregnancy. If you just eat healthy foods in pregnancy, you will not gain excessive weight and grow a healthy baby.
- Practice sound food safety habits by washing produce well, cooking meats thoroughly, and throwing away questionable leftovers.
- If big meals create nausea, consider eating several small meals a day, and keep healthy snacks handy. Your body will tell you when you need to eat. Listen to it.
- Limit caffeine intake to no more than 300 mg per day. Caffeine products include chocolate, coffee, tea, certain medications, and soft drinks.
Related Pregnancy Articles
- Pregnancy Diet
- Caffeine and Pregnancy
- Early Pregnancy Symptoms
- Morning Sickness
- Eating for Gestational Diabetes
Learn more about diet and nutrition at LoveToKnow Diet.