Eating for Two the Healthy Wayby Katlyn Joy | November 10, 2010
Eating for two sounds like a nine-month cruise, with endless buffets and guiltless gorging. Nah, sorry. No such luck. Just because your caloric intake needs increase doesn't mean you have carte blanche on obtaining those calories. You need to make sure your foods pack a healthy punch so you get the most nutritionally from your eating choices.
The No-No ListTo simplify, let's cover the absolute off limits foods.
1. Anything that isn't a food. Odd as it sounds, pregnant women often get pica, or cravings for non-food items. If you find yourself drooling for clay, ice, laundry starch, cornstarch or loads of ice you need to speak with your doctor. You'll get some helpful tips and be checked for anemia most likely.
2. No alcohol or illegal drugs, and no over the counter drugs without a physician's OK. This includes herbal supplements, too.
3. Caffeine is not a strict absolute no, but to be consumed with caution. Talk to your physician about how much caffeine is OK and when. Some doctors will allow a cup of coffee or a can of soda occasionally, but only after the first trimester passes. Others have different opinions.
4. Avoid all unpasteurized food products, soft cheeses, hot dogs or lunch meats that are not heated properly, undercooked meat, poultry or shellfish. These items can cause listeriosis, a type of food poisoning that is particularly dangerous to pregnant women and their babies.
5. Avoid raw sprouts or raw or undercooked eggs.
6. Avoid foods high in mercury. That would be items like shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish. If you like tuna try to keep albacore tuna intake below 6 ounces a week, since albacore is higher in mercury than other tuna.
Pregnancy Weight Gain Recommendations
For those of average weight the guidelines are to gain 25-35 pounds, for underweight women aim for a gain of 28-40 pounds, overweight women can 15-25 while obese women can gain 11-20 pounds. Of course, you'll want to go over these numbers with your health care provider. Sometimes the timing and speed of your weight gain is more of an issue, so expect your physician to keep a close watch.
Special Nutrients for Pregnant Women
Women who are pregnant must be careful to get plenty of folic acid in their diet to prevent neural tube defects. You can get this through citrus fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, and beans. Your prenatal vitamin should contain folic acid since it can be difficult to get all you should through diet alone.
Women also need iron during pregnancy and while most prenatal vitamins have iron, you'll still want to eat an iron-rich diet since anemia is a common problem. Meats, beans, eggs and certain veggies and bread products are high in iron.
Calcium intake is also important. Milk and dairy products are great sources but not the only ones.
- Grains: 6 oz. day
- Veggies: 2 1/2 cups day
- Fruits: 1 1/2 to 2 cups a day
- Milk: 3 cups a day
- Protein: 5 to 5 1/2 ounces a day
Tips for Healthy Eating
Avoid empty calories found in greasy, fatty foods or high calories soft drinks or juices. Aim for whole grains when possible and healthy preparation, such as grilling over frying. Watch for the dressings and toppings that pile on fats and calories. For snacks, grab a handful of nuts or pretzels rather than chips, or eat some yogurt instead of ice cream. Make sure you have a handy supply of healthy things to munch on, or else you'll make the easier choice to eat the snack cake and regret it later.
If you have special dietary issues because you are vegetarian, or have food allergies or diabetes you may want to consult with a dietitian early in your pregnancy to prepare a special pregnancy diet just for you. Make sure you keep your physician in the loop, though.Katlyn Joy is a freelance writer, and just graduated with a Master's of Arts in Creative Writing. She is mom to seven children, and lives in Denver, Colorado.
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