Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet can be a struggle for all of us. But it can be even more so for a woman who now has all the dietary restrictions that come along with pregnancy! Let’s review the major “go’s” and “no’s” of eating during pregnancy.
Protein is an important building block for many body parts/organs in your body including bone, cartilage, blood, and muscles. In general, it is recommended we get 71 grams of protein daily. Good sources of protein include:
- lean meat
- low-fat dairy
It’s important not to consume undercooked meat, poultry and eggs as there is an increased risk for food borne illness. Cook all meats thoroughly before eating including luncheon meats and hot dogs. Avoid cold meat spreads or pates such as chicken salad or liver.
Eggs should be cooked until both whites and yolks are firm. All egg products that contain raw egg should be avoided such as Caesar salad dressing, hollandaise sauce, etc.
Avoid unpasteurized dairy food products such as unpasteurized milk and soft cheeses such as Brie, feta, and Blue Cheese.
Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of fuel or energy. Choose complex carbohydrates over simple sugars. Simple sugars like honey, sugar, fruit juices and soda give you a quick burst of energy which is used up quickly and may lead to excess weight gain. Complex carbohydrates like whole grain products–whole grain breads, pastas, and oatmeal–and high fiber fruits and vegetables will help keep you feeling full longer and sustain your energy level.
Avoid all raw sprouts such as alfalfa, clover, radish and mung bean. Thoroughly wash all fresh fruits and vegetables to minimize exposure to unwanted bacteria.
Consumption of healthy fats aid in the utilization of fat soluble vitamins (Vitamins A, D, E, and K), provides cushion for your organs, keeps you warm, and promotes hormone production among other functions. Good dietary sources of healthy fats include:
- olive or canola oil
- fatty fish like salmon
- light tuna (non-albacore)
Keep in mind that some fish and shellfish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, albacore tuna and tilefish contain high levels of mercury and should be avoided during pregnancy.
Limit low mercury containing seafood like shrimp, salmon, anchovies, light canned tuna, etc. to 8-12 ounces per week. Additionally, it is recommended to avoid raw seafood as they may contain harmful bacteria. This would include sushi, raw oysters and other shellfish, and lox. It is recommended to cook fish to an internal temperature of 145 F.
The majority of required vitamins and minerals can be obtained by adhering to a general healthy balanced diet. Some nutrients; however, are required in excess, making it much more difficult to achieve these recommendations.
For example, 400micrograms of folic acid is the daily recommendation. Folic acid is a B vitamin that aids in the prevention of neural tube defects. It is also recommended to obtain 27mg of iron per day as the body is rapidly producing more blood for your baby.
Some women also find it difficult to consume adequate nutrition due to nausea and/or vomiting. So it’s recommended that women begin taking a prenatal vitamin during this time if they were not previously taking one.
Fiber and Fluids GO
Adequate hydration helps nutrients and waste products to get into and out of the body efficiently, aids with digestion, and helps build the amniotic sac around your baby. General recommendations are to drink 8 cups (64 ounces) per day.
If you are experiencing constipation, increasing fluid and dietary fiber intake can help to alleviate it. Aim for about 25-30 grams of fiber per day. Gradual increases can help minimize gas and bloating if your system is not used to a lot of fiber. Good sources of fiber include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and beans. Fiber also helps lower your risk of gestational diabetes.
Caffeine: The effects of caffeine in utero is still being investigated. Ask your health care provider for recommendations on caffeine.
Herbal Tea: There is little evidence on herbal teas in pregnancy. Ask your health care provider for recommendations.
Alcohol: The safest recommendation is to eliminate alcohol from your diet completely.
So, there you have it. A quick guide to the go’s and no’s of eating during pregnancy. As always, please contact your physician if you have any questions or concerns.