It may sound cliché, but when you’re pregnant, you really are eating for two. While this doesn’t mean you need double the calories your entire pregnancy, it does mean you should be mindful of what you do eat.
The truth is, what you eat has a big impact on the tiny baby that’s growing inside you. Besides, you don’t want to deal with a lot of extra pounds to shed at the end. Today we will discuss the best foods to eat while pregnant and what foods to avoid when pregnant.
What to Eat During Pregnancy
It’s important to get on a good pregnancy diet as early as the first trimester. This will help you eat the right foods and get the right amounts of pregnancy vitamins the natural way. Here’s a look at the vitamins you need and healthy ways to obtain them according to the infographic by PregnancySymtoms.net:
Pregnant women need between 75 and 100 grams of protein per day. This can be achieved through 2 or 3, 3-ounce servings of cooked fish, seafood, chicken, lamb, lean beef, pork, nuts, and tofu. If you are a vegan you can substitute with 2 or 3, ½-cup servings of legumes. Good choices of legumes include navy beans, split peas, black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, and more.
Daily calcium requirements during pregnancy total around 1,000 milligrams. This can be hard for some women to attain through common means such as milk and eggs due to morning sickness. Other great options include yogurt, cheese, white beans, salmon, almonds, turnip greens, and cabbage. Just be sure to consume 3 or 4 servings of calcium per day.
While you are pregnant you need double the amount of iron that a non-pregnant woman requires. Ensuring that you get enough iron daily is important to ward off anemia. Look, it’s tiring enough just being pregnant, when you combine this with anemia you literally can’t get enough sleep. You should get as close to 27 milligrams as possible. To attain this number try to get:
- 3 servings of whole grains such as oatmeal, cornmeal, and bread.
- 2 to 3 servings of green leafy vegetables such as spinach, collards, and lettuce.
- 2 to 3 servings of lean protein such as beef, chicken, or seafood.
Folic acid is one of the most important pregnancy vitamins there are. It’s vital for early development and the formation of the neural tube. It’s said that folic acid can help prevent some major birth defects of the spine and brain. Always make sure to take a quality prenatal vitamin that includes this supplement, and aim to get between 600 and 800 micrograms per day. You can get folate from foods such as lettuce, collards, turnips, strawberry, mango, oatmeal, bread, grapefruit, kiwi, legumes, and much more.
Vitamin C is an important nutrient that helps your immune system fight disease. While most people know that oranges and orange juice are great sources of vitamin C, many may not know other choices. If you’re looking for alternatives to orange, some great substitutions are grapefruit, lemon, mango, potatoes, kiwi, tomato, strawberry, and red pepper.
The truth is that getting enough of these nutrients can help combat many of the pregnancy symptoms. For other suggestions, be sure to check out Pregnancy Guide – A Week by Week Journey For Every Mom To Be.
While You’re Pregnant – Fish to Avoid
According to the FDA, pregnant women can safely consume up to 12 ounces of fish per week. Many women ask “Can you eat shrimp when pregnant?” The answer to this question is “YES, in moderation”. In fact, some good types of fish for pregnant women include shrimp, salmon, crab, Pollock, catfish, cod, canned tuna, and tilapia.
At the same time, there are types of fish you should avoid due to their high mercury content. These types of fish include swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tile fish. Just remember that the good types of fish are high in Omega fatty acids which are essential for good health and great for your unborn baby.
What NOT to Eat During Pregnancy
So, as we discussed, there are certain types of fish that are best left alone while pregnant. However, that’s not the only thing you shouldn’t eat. Let’s take a look at other things you should avoid:
- Unwashed fruits and vegetables
- Raw or undercooked meat
- Large amounts of caffeine – Less than 300 mg per day
- Sushi and sashimi
- Unprocessed juice
- Alcoholic Beverages
- Soft cheeses
- Raw sprouts
- Lunch Meat
The main reason you shouldn’t eat most of these items is due to the risk of foodborne illness. So, if your morning sickness seems extreme, contact your doctor to ensure you don’t have one of these illnesses. There are three common foodborne illnesses every pregnant woman should be aware of:
Listeria is a harmful bacterium that can be found in refrigerated, ready-to-eat foods such as meat, poultry, seafood, soil, and unpasteurized dairy products.
This is a metal found in certain fish including swordfish, tile fish, king mackerel, and shark. Eating these fish can be harmful to your unborn baby.
This is a parasite found in raw and undercooked meat, unwashed fruits and vegetables, water, dust, soil, dirty cat-litter boxes, and outdoor areas where cat feces can be found. Being subjected to it can cause toxoplasmosis which can be extremely harmful to both you and your unborn baby.
How to Prevent Foodborne Illness
As if you don’t have enough to worry about during pregnancy. The good news is that preventing such illnesses is easy. Just be sure to clean fruits and vegetables really well, keep them cooled to the correct temperature, and be sure to cook them long enough to kill potential bacteria.
In the end, knowing what to eat during pregnancy is very important. It’s vital for both the growth of your baby and to help you maintain a healthy weight gain during your pregnancy.
If you’ve been experiencing back pain during pregnancy, check out our infographic to learn more about what causes it, and how to relieve it.