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Eating Healthy During Pregnancy

What you need to know...

While pregnant proper nutrition is important and includes consuming enough calories and nutrients to keep yourself and your baby healthy.

A prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement is a good idea, but it is not a substitute for eating healthy.

During pregnancy a woman’s body is constantly working to provide for her baby. Therefore, it is important not to go more than 12 hours without a healthy meal or snack. Start the day with a healthy breakfast such as 2 eggs with toast and have a snack before bed. Plan to eat six small meals spread throughout the day instead of three large meals. Not only will smaller more frequent meals keep your energy level up, bit it will also be easier on your stomach decreasing nausea and heartburn.

Developing a prenatal eating plan for a healthy woman carrying a single baby is a fairly easy process. However, if you have any health concerns or if you’re carrying more than one baby changes will be needed to accommodate those specific conditions. If your diet is limited (lactose intolerant, food allergies, or vegetarian) a prenatal eating plan can be created to accommodate those restrictions.

Daily Servings

  • 4 Servings
  • Milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, hard cheese, 12 oz of soy milk.
  • Soy Milk: if this is your primary dairy source add extra calcium from almonds, Brazil nuts, kale, black olives, or blackstrap molasses.
Dark Green Vegetables
  • Broccoli, spinach, asparagus, Brussels sprouts
Fruits and Vegetables
  • 2 Servings
  • Citrus fruits, tomatoes, strawberries and green peppers, the list is endless.
  • A variety of color will incorporate more vitamins and minerals.
  • 1 extra serving of orange or yellow fruit/vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, apricots, cantaloupe and winter squash.
Healthy fats
  • 3 Servings
  • Olive oil, nut oil, avocado and peanut butter.
  • 6-8 Servings
  • 70 grams of protein per day from all sources.
  • 2 eggs daily, lean meats, poultry, 4 oz tofu, beans.
  • Fish:
    • Shrimp, salmon, catfish, canned tuna.
    • Pollock - limit to 12 ounces a week.
    • Albacore tuna and steak tuna - limit to 6 ounces a week.
    • Avoid excess servings of fish that may contain harmful levels of mercury.
  • 5 Servings
  • Oats, wild rice, corn, brown rice and popcorn

Green, leafy vegetables such as collard greens, swiss chard and spinach are loaded with Vitamins A, C, K, folic acid and iron and are good for growing healthy tissue. They are also high in magnesia and Vitamin B12.

Sweet Potatoes are a healthier substitute than white potatoes. They contain large amounts of Vitamin A, C as well as a good amount of dietary fiber.

Blueberries contain Vitamin C, magnesium and antioxidants. They are versatile and area an easy addition to yogurt, ice cream, and cereal for snacking.

Apples are an easy fruit to throw into your bag for quick snacking and they contain fiber and Vitamin C. Consider eating an apple a day because apples have been shown to reduce the incidence of asthma in children when mothers ate 4 or more apples a week.

Lean Organic Chicken Breast - 87% of your daily recommended amount of protein is contained in just one cup of cooked chicken breast. It also be has selenium, niacin, vitamin B6, omega 3s and 6 fatty acids.

Nuts are a quick on the go protein source. Almonds are high in vitamin E and manganese while cashews are high in magnesium.

Low fat Organic Yogurt is an excellent source of calcium, which is needed fetal bone development. It is also rich in protein. Organic yogurt contains good bacteria that will help prevent yeast infections while antibiotics.

Whole Grains look for breads that are high in fiber with at least 4-5 grams per slice.

Cereals should be low in fat and sugar, high in protein and fiber (at least 5 grams per serving) and enriched with folate to protect against neural tube defects.

Beans and Legumes – Beans such as pinto, red and black beans as well as lentils are packed with fiber, protein, folate and tryptophan. These beans also contain a little known mineral called molybdem, which helps to detoxify sulfites found in processed foods such as deli meats and salads.

Foods to AVOID in Pregnancy

Fish - Swordfish, King Mackerel, Shark, Tilefish due to high amounts of mercury

Smoked Seafood - Refrigerated, smoked seafood often labeled as lox, nova style, kippered, or jerky should be avoided. Canned or shelf-safe smoked seafood is usually OK to eat.

Meat and Poultry - Make sure all meat and poultry is fully cooked in order to prevent ingesting bacteria such as E-coli. Cook the meat until juices are clear, but also use a thermometer to make sure internal degree is cooked to 160 degrees. Hot dogs and meat from your deli are known to carry bacteria. Heat hot dogs and meats from the deli thoroughly in order to kill any present bacterial or avoid during pregnancy.

Dairy Foods - Do not eat any unpasteurized dairy products. Before eating soft cheese check the labels to make sure they are not made with unpasteurized milk: Brie, Camembert, Mexican Cheeses (including queso blanco and queso fresco), Feta, Gorgonzola and Roquefort.

Caffeine - Limit caffeine intake. To much caffeine during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, and withdrawal symptoms in infants after delivery. It may also affect your baby’s heart rate and breathing. It has been suggested that drinking too much herbal tea while pregnant can cause contractions and therefore cause an increase in the risk of miscarriages or premature labor. Caffeine should be limited to 300mg per day during pregnancy.

Alcohol - Due to the risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, miscarriages and stillbirth, no amount of alcohol is recommended during pregnancy. If you consumed alcohol before you knew you were pregnant, stop drinking now. Exposure of alcohol to an unborn baby poses harmful risks. Alcohol will enter the breast milk while breastfeeding.

Fish is loaded with good nutrients such as protein, Vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acids, which are essential for your baby’s development. However most fish, including shellfish, contains trace amounts of methylmercury, a compound known to be harmful in high does to an unborn developing nervous system. Please, choose fish intake according to the amounts listed.

Raw Eggs - Raw eggs or any foods that contain raw eggs should be avoided because of the potential exposure to salmonella. Some homemade Caesar dressings, mayonnaise, homemade ice cream or custards, and Hollandaise sauces may contain raw eggs.

Pate - Refrigerated pate or meat spreads should be avoided because they may contain the bacteria listeria. Canned pate or shelf-safe meat spreads can be eaten.

Unwashed Vegetables - Make sure all vegetables are thoroughly washed to avoid potential exposure to pesticides and e-coli.

How much fish can I eat during pregnancy?

In March 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued new guidelines for eating fish in women who are trying to conceive, are pregnant, or nursing due to the mercury in fish.

Fish should be limited to 6-12 oz a week of canned light tuna or other fish listed below.
  • Clams, Oysters
  • Cod
  • Crab
  • Crayfish
  • Farmed Cat Fish
  • Farmed Trout
  • Flounder and Sole
  • Haddock
  • Herrings
  • Mahi Mahi
  • Mussels
  • Perch
  • Pilchards
  • Sardines
  • Salmon in all forms, except from the Great Lakes
  • Scallops
  • Shrimp
  • Striped Bass
  • Tilapia
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