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Eating for two can be a nerve-wracking responsibility, especially with all the conflicting information floating around. Is fish important – or does it contain too much mercury? Do you need meat for protein – or is it too fatty? Are eggs okay – or do they have too much cholesterol?
It's enough to make you want to throw your hands up and dive into the nearest bag of candy bars. But don't – or at least, read this first. There are lots of ways to ensure that you and your baby are getting the nutrients you both need. Here, experts discuss some of their top pregnancy foods. You don't need to like or eat them all, but pick and choose your favorites to give your pregnancy a nutritional boost.
"It's amazing what you get in one egg, and for only about 90 calories," says Elizabeth Ward, dietitian and author of Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, and After Pregnancy. In addition to more than 12 vitamins and minerals, eggs contain lots of quality protein, which is essential for pregnancy. "Your baby's cells are growing at an exponential rate, and every cell is made of protein," Ward explains. "Plus, as a pregnant woman, you have your own protein needs." Eggs are also rich in choline, which promotes your baby's overall growth and brain health, while helping prevent neural tube defects. Some even contain omega-3 fats, important for both brain and vision development. (Brands that have omega-3 fats will probably state so on the label.) As for eggs' bad rap for cholesterol? Not warranted, says Ward. It turns out that eating saturated fat does much more damage to your cholesterol level than eating the cholesterol naturally found in food. And while eggs are high in cholesterol, they're also relatively low in saturated fat, with about one and a half grams per egg. "Healthy women with normal blood cholesterol can consume one to two eggs a day as part of a balanced diet low in saturated fat," Ward says. Need more convincing? Eggs are cheap, easy, quick, and versatile. When you're too exhausted to cook a full meal, a couple of hard boiled or scrambled eggs are just the ticket.
Not only is salmon brimming with high-quality protein, says Ward, but it's an exceptionally good source of omega-3 fats. And unlike swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and shark, salmon has low amounts of methylmercury, a compound that can be harmful to your baby's developing nervous system.
the FDA recommends eating no more than 12 ounces per week to avoid ingesting too much mercury. says Ward." . "People love it when I tell them that!" says Ward." she says. and zinc. particularly protein. "Walnuts are one of the richest sources of plant-based omega-3s. such as canned light tuna and pollock. You already know protein is important during pregnancy. food that contains fiber tends to be nutrient-rich. they're inexpensive and versatile. but you may not yet realize that fiber could become your new best friend during the nine-month wait. folate. selenium. making it a superfood in and of itself. milk. Fluffy. including vitamin E. and eggs) can be dangerous. There are lots of other whole grains out there.Just remember that even for salmon and other low-mercury fish. They're converted to vitamin A only as needed. nutty-tasting quinoa is one of Ward's favorites. author of Go Green. suggests dietitian Kate Geagan. from oatmeal to whole grain bread to barley. This is certainly true of beans. which are good sources of iron." she says. but still want to get those omega-3s which are so important for your baby's brain growth? Try walnuts. and fiber. Popcorn and other whole grains Yes. Fiber can help prevent and relieve these problems. Walnuts Don't like fish or eggs. you read that right. lentils. calcium. Although consuming too much "preformed" vitamin A (found in animal sources. so there's no need to restrict your consumption of vitamin Arich fruits and veggies." Ward suggests. Whole grains are important in pregnancy because they're high in fiber and nutrients. Don't stop at popcorn though. says Ward. such as liver. Beans Navy beans. "Cook extra and save them to slice up later as a snack. chickpeas…. plant pigments that are converted to vitamin A in our bodies. In addition. and phytonutrients – plant compounds that protect cells. "Whole grain quinoa is easy to make and is very high in nutrients. Sweet potatoes are also a great source of vitamin C. Popcorn is a whole grain. "A handful of walnuts is a great choice for an on-the-run snack or an addition to a salad." says Ward. Sweet potatoes Sweet potatoes get their orange color from carotenoids. carotenoids are a different story. black beans..there are so many to choose from. putting you at risk for constipation and hemorrhoids. folate. "Beans contain the most fiber and protein of all the vegetables. In pregnancy. the gastrointestinal tract slows down. And like beans. pinto beans. Stay Lean.
"So if you expose your baby to a variety of healthy fruits and vegetables in the womb. the baby is 'tasting' the foods you eat through the amniotic fluid. though. If you don't take in enough calcium. "Calcium will help keep your own bones intact while laying down a healthy skeleton for your baby. and white fruits and vegetables will ensure that you and your baby get a variety of nutrients. minerals. "Each color group provides different vitamins. "The goal during pregnancy is to make sure you provide everything your baby needs without sacrificing your own health and nutrition." Dangers The dangers of dieting while pregnant Some women fear the extra weight gain of pregnancy and decide to eat sparingly to avoid ." explains dietitian Jodi Greebel. says dietitian Karin Hosenfeld of North Dallas Nutrition. look for cuts that are around 95 to 98 percent fat-free. depleting the calcium in your bones and teeth." she says. and antioxidants. There's a small risk of passing on bacteria and parasites from the meat such as Listeria monocytogenes toxoplasma.Greek yogurt Greek yogurt typically has twice the protein of regular yogurt." she says. leafy vegetables Spinach. says Ward. Colorful fruits and veggies Eating a variety of green. Lean meats Meat is an excellent source of high-quality protein. the limited amount you have will go to your baby. "Look for lean meats with the fat trimmed off. they contain choline. Don't eat deli meats or hot dogs. kale. and K. which is vital in a pregnancy diet. yellow. orange." Dark green. as well as the all-important folate." she explains. red. They've also been found to promote eye health. "When buying red meat in particular. says Mayo Clinic obstetrician Mary Marnach. owner of Citrition. making it one of Geagan's favorite pregnancy foods. and other green leafy vegetables are loaded with vitamins and nutrients. a nutrition counseling service in New York. Hosenfeld points out another advantage of eating across the fruit and veggie spectrum: "During the later stages of pregnancy. including vitamins A. says Geagan. And any kind of yogurt is a great source of calcium. you'll increase the chance that your baby will recognize and accept those flavors later on. or salmonella to your baby. unless they're heating until steaming hot. C. Geagan says." Beef and pork stand out among meats because in addition to protein. purple. Swiss chard.
Restricted eating or crash dieting in any form while pregnant can seriously compromise your health and that of your baby. Keep rooms well ventilated and odour free. Suck something sour like a lemon. Calcium intake is also important because young women have not yet reached their peak bone mass and inadequate calcium intake may increase the risk of osteoporosis developing later in life. as the baby grows. Heartburn and pregnancy Heartburn is common in pregnancy because.putting on body fat. biscuits or cereal before getting up in the morning. are common during pregnancy – particularly in the first trimester. Small carbohydrate snacks (a sandwich or fruit) every two to three hours may provide some relief. Avoid large meals and greasy. You can do this by putting a folded blanket or pillow under your mattress. The following suggestions may also help: Eat some dry bread. Drink liquids between rather than with meals to avoid bloating as this can trigger vomiting. Anaemia is more common among adolescents than older women. Get up slowly. especially ‘morning sickness’. lifting or lying down after meals Excessive consumption of tea or coffee. avoiding sudden movements. Try to avoid: Eating late at night Bending. Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy Nausea and vomiting. Pregnancy in adolescence Pregnant adolescents need more nutrients than adult women because they are still growing themselves. You may also like to try sleeping with your bedhead raised a few inches. frequent meals may be better than large meals. . Small. Relax. rest and get into the fresh air as much as possible. Try food and drinks containing ginger as these sometimes relieve nausea. there is more pressure on the abdomen. highly spiced foods. Slowly sip a fizzy drink when feeling nauseated. Adolescents may give birth to smaller infants because they are competing with the growing fetus for nutrients.
including the time from conception to the first missed period. but prevention is best. quiches and delicatessen meats like ham and salami Raw seafood such as oysters and sashimi or smoked seafood such as salmon (canned varieties are safe) Unpasteurised foods Soft-serve icecream. stillbirth or premature labour. is an illness usually caused by eating food contaminated with bacteria known as Listeria monocytogenes. . Australian Alcohol Guidelines advise women who are pregnant or who are considering pregnancy that they: Consider not drinking at all Should never become intoxicated (drunk) If they choose to drink. Some foods are more prone to contamination with listeria than others. so properly cooked foods are not a risk. Listeria infection and pregnancy Listeria infection. The greatest danger is to the unborn baby. or listeriosis. congenital deformities and effects on the baby’s intelligence. The organism that causes listeria infection is destroyed by heat. such as brie. camembert and ricotta – these are safe if served cooked and hot Precooked or pre-prepared cold foods that will not be reheated – for example. A standard drink contains 10g of alcohol. pate. but the risks are substantial for pregnant women. Healthy people may experience no ill-effects from listeria infection at all. low birth weight. Consuming alcohol during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage. with increased risk of miscarriage. should have less than seven standard drinks over a week and no more than two standard drinks on any one day (at least two hours apart) Should note that the risk is highest in the earlier stages of pregnancy. A listeria infection is easily treated with antibiotics.Alcohol during pregnancy There is no known completely safe level of alcohol consumption for women who are pregnant. preprepared salads. Exclude these foods from your diet if you are pregnant: Soft cheeses.
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