Nutrition During Pregnancy

When you eat a balanced, nutritious diet during pregnancy, you and your baby both benefit. Here are some tips on “eating for two” and then be sure and remember that if you use a BMI calculator that the BMI calculations will be different if you are pregnant.

Try to focus on the quality of your food rather than on your weight gain. Make the most of your daily caloric intake by choosing sensibly from the basic food groups: meats and other proteins; breads, cereals and grains; dairy products; fruits and vegetables; and fats, oils and sweets. Limit ’empty calories’ – they don’t do much nutritionally for you or your baby. Satisfy cravings with nutritious, low-calorie snacks rather than junk food.

The recommended number of daily servings for each food group is as follows:

• Meats and proteins: Three to four servings of lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs (not more than four per week), nuts or peanut butter.
• Breads, cereals and grains: Four to six servings of whole-grain breads, pasta, muffins, rolls, biscuits and ready-to-eat and cooked cereals.
• Dairy products: Four or more servings of low-fat milk or yogurt, cheese and ice cream.
• Fruits and vegetables: Two to four servings of fresh fruits and three to five of fresh vegetables.
• Fats, oils and sweets: Eat in moderation.

Also keep in mind your body’s increased need for calcium and iron. Calcium, which is essential to the development of strong bones and teeth, is found in milk, cheese, green leafy vegetables, whole grains and nuts. Your iron requirement doubles during pregnancy because you develop extra blood vessels to nourish your baby. Iron-rich foods include beef, veal, liver, spinach and other greens, dried fruits, wheat bread, prune juice and iron-fortified cereals and bread.

Vitamins are important too. If you eat a well-balanced diet and take your prenatal supplements, your body will get its daily requirements of vitamins and folic acid, which reduces the chance of common birth defects such as spina bifida.

Pregnancy is a time to focus on yourself and your body. It’s also the perfect time to start ‘eating right’ – and to start a lifetime of healthy eating.