For a woman who has just been told she is pregnant, there are many things to think about and worry about. One of the biggest concerns for most of these women is fine-tuning their nutrition and meal plans to ensure they are getting well-balanced meals.
However, many women still have questions about what kinds of foods they should be eating and what foods they should be avoiding. Of course the question on every pregnant woman’s mind, does eating for two really mean I can eat twice the amount I normally eat?
According to Baylor Scott & White Round Rock Dietitian Karla Luna, RD, LD:
“You only need to take in an additional 300 calories per day, which is equal to approximately 2 ½ cups of low-fat milk or a tuna sandwich. So, while you may be tempted to eat twice as much, there is no medical reason to do so. Consuming twice as much doesn’t double your chances of having a healthy baby — instead, it means excessive weight gain for you, which can put you at risk for complications.”
So, what should a pregnant woman’s daily meal plan consist of?
Luna suggests “pregnant women need to increase their intake of lean, high-quality protein, certain vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid and iron, and some calories, for energy.”
Some of your basic food variety should include:
• Nine or more servings of breads, cereals and grains
• Seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables
• At least three servings of milk and milk products
• At least three servings of protein — lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts — and dried beans or peas
Be very conscious of serving sizes. For example, one slice of bread equals one serving for the bread and grains category, a half-cup of cottage cheese or one slice of cheese equals a dairy serving, and a protein serving is one egg or a small piece of meat.
Additionally, to guarantee that you get the nutrients you need, you should begin taking a prenatal vitamin-mineral supplement. Your doctor may also recommend that you take iron or calcium supplements later in your pregnancy if blood tests reveal that you’re not getting enough of these key minerals.
What foods and beverages should pregnant women avoid?
There are several possible sources of bacteria that can cause harm to an unborn child that you’ll want to steer clear of.
Some of these foods include:
• Cooked fish due to rising mercury levels (such as tuna, salmon)
• Raw seafood (such as oysters or uncooked sushi)
• Unpasteurized milk or soft cheeses (such as brie)
• Raw or undercooked meat and poultry
You should always refrain from drinking alcohol during your pregnancy as it has been shown to cause physical defects, learning disabilities and emotional problems in children. And for those who crave caffeine, consider skipping caffeinated beverages during your pregnancy. Some studies suggest that drinking more than four cups of coffee a day can lead to miscarriage, low birth weight and even stillbirth. Be aware that caffeine is also present in teas, diet and regular soft drinks, cocoa and chocolate.
More tips from Luna:
1. Don’t “go on a diet” while you’re pregnant
“Dieting” (restrictive) during pregnancy is hazardous to you and your developing baby. Many weight-loss regimes are likely to leave you low on iron, folic acid, and other important vitamins and minerals. Weight gain is one of the most positive signs of a healthy pregnancy.
2. Gain weight gradually and slowly
In general, you should aim to put on roughly between 25 and 35 pounds if you began your pregnancy at an appropriate weight. What many women don’t realize is that when you put on the weight may be as important as the total tally of pounds. You should gain the least weight during the first trimester, roughly 2 to 5 pounds total, and steadily increase, with the greatest number of pounds, roughly a pound a week, coming in the third trimester.
3. Eat small meals every three to four hours
Don’t ever skip meals. Even if you’re not hungry, chances are that your baby is, so try to eat regularly.
4. Treat yourself to something sweet only on occasion
Don’t beat yourself up if you cave in to temptation; the occasional cookie or piece of crumb cake won’t hurt you or your baby. But it’s best to try keep some smart, tasty snacks on hand, which can include:
• A small smoothie with protein
• A frozen, a non-fat sorbet
• Non-fat low sugar Greek Yogurt
• Low-fat string cheese and a few whole grain crackers like Triscuits
*This information is intended for general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.
Karla Luna RD, LD is a Clinical Dietitian Supervisor at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Round Rock:
For more information visit www.baylorscottandwhite.com or call 512.509.9006. Baylor Scott & White– Round Rock is located at 300 University Boulevard in Round Rock, TX 78665.