Moms-to-be have more than likely heard of all of the foods to avoid during pregnancy, but what about foods they should incorporate into their diet?
According to Doylestown Health nutritionist, Beth Kelly, MA, RDN, LDN, "There are numerous benefits to eating a well-balanced diet before, during and after pregnancy. A well-balanced diet may help decrease the likelihood of having a premature or low birth weight baby. In addition, it can help mom maintain a healthier weight during and following pregnancy and may help prevent complications such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Look for little ways to improve your diet; can you switch to whole wheat pasta? Could you add spinach into your eggs in the morning? Every little change can help!
According to the American Pregnancy Association, protein-packed foods can positively affect the growth of fetal tissue, including the brain, and are all good sources of iron. Iron helps carry oxygen to muscles and your growing baby, helping avoid fatigue, weakness, irritability and depression.
Recommended daily serving: 2-3 servings of protein (1 serving = approximately 3 ounces)
Calcium-rich foods are essential for muscle and nerve function, regulating body fluids, normalizing blood clotting and building your baby’s bones and tooth buds.
- Pasteurized cheese
- White beans
Recommended daily serving: 3-4 servings of calcium-rich foods
Dark green leafy vegetables containing folic acid have many positive benefits including helping to reduce the risk of neural tube defects,including spina bifida.
Recommended daily serving: 2 servings of dark green leafy vegetables (1 serving = approximately1 cup)
Apricots and cantaloupe are examples of fruits that contain the compound beta carotene — known for giving fruits their orange color — and help with your baby's cell and tissue development, vision and immune system.
Additionally, fruits with Vitamin C including strawberries, mango, pineapple and kiwi help develop your baby’s collagen in his or her connective tissue.
Recommended daily serving: 2-3 servings of fruit (1 serving = approximately ½ cup)
Whole Food Sources of Carbohydrates
Breads and grains provide a source of energy during pregnancy, in part to the essential carbohydrates they contain.
Whole grain and enriched products also provide important nutrients including iron, Vitamin B, fiber and protein.
- Starchy vegetables (potatoes, peas, winter squash)
Recommended daily serving: 3 servings of whole food sources of carbohydrates (1 serving = approximately ½ cup orone slice)
How Many Calories Should a Pregnant Woman Eat a Day?
According to the National Institutes of Health, on average, a pregnant woman should eat around 300 additional calories per day when pregnant. However, those extra 300 calories should come from one of the main five food groups listed above, not junk food or sweets. For most normal-weight pregnant women, the recommended daily calorie intake is:
- First trimester – around 1,800 calories per day
- Second trimester – around 2,200 calories per day
- Third trimester – around 2,400 calories per day
The American Pregnancy Association has compiled a list of foods that still fall into one of the main five food groups, while also helping to combat nausea.
- Cold foods (sandwiches, raw vegetables, salad when properly prepared to prevent listeria)
- Bland foods (crackers, chicken soup, broth, plain baked potato, rice, toast)
- Plain vegetables or fruits
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