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How To Eat Healthy Throughout Your Pregnancy

By Published On: February 23rd, 2012

“You are eating for two now” is a phrase you will probably hear a lot during your pregnancy. And indeed you are. But, that does not mean eating twice the amount you used to or using your condition as an excuse to eat whatever you like!

Good nutrition throughout your pregnancy is very important but in terms of extra calories you only need about 200 extra through the first two trimesters of your pregnancy. The key to healthy nutrition in pregnancy is what – and to a certain extent when – you eat and not eating more of it now that you are “eating for two”.

The general rule for eating while expecting is to eat as healthy as possible. In general you should include the following in your daily meal plan:

  • At least five servings of fruits and vegetables, fruit juices will count towards this “requirement” though.
  • At least two or three servings of starchy foods such as rice, pasta and potatoes. When you do eat pasta and rice eat the wholegrain varieties if possible.
  • Protein rich foods like lean red meat, chicken, fish, beans and pulses. Try to plan to eat at least two servings of fish every week especially, one of an oily fish like salmon and one of a white fish such as cod.
  • Dairy. low fat yoghurt, milk and cheese all contain plenty of calcium which is very important to your growing baby’s future health. They also contain iodine, another pregnancy essential.

Eating for Each Trimester

In addition to the above there are certain things you should be including more of in your diet according to the stage of your pregnancy:

Eating During the First Trimester – Many women suffer from morning sickness (that can often last all day) during the first stage of their pregnancy, which can make eating anything at all a less than pleasant experience. If you choose foods that are rich in vitamin B6 it can help as they can help reduce nausea. Wholegrain toast, bananas, mixed nuts and brown rice are all good sources of B6.

Eating foods with higher levels of folic acid is very important for your baby’s development and this is especially true in the first trimester. A glass of real orange juice is a great source of folic acid, as are eggs, bran flakes, broccoli and baked potatoes.

As your baby grows they will need plenty of iron to help healthy red blood cells form so eating iron rich foods is very important too at this stage. Chicken, tuna, beans and wholegrain toast are all good sources.

Eating During Your Second Trimester

Hopefully your normal appetite will begin to return in your second trimester as the morning sickness will usually get better at this point. In addition to your by now usual healthy diet foods rich in calcium are very important as they help your growing baby form healthier teeth and bones. Adding an extra pot of yoghurt a day to your diet can be all it takes or just an extra glass of milk on top of what you should already be drinking.

Your baby’s brain is developing rapidly at this point and foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids can be very beneficial. Salmon, tuna, beans and walnuts are all nice, tasty foods that contain a lot of omega 3s.

Eating During Your Third Trimester

During your third trimester you will need all the energy you can and adding an extra serving of rice or pasta can give you the quick energy boost you are probably looking for at this point. Vitamin K is also very important. It helps blood clot more efficiently, something that is important when you finally give birth. Melon, green beans and brocolli are all great sources of this essential vitamin.

What Not to Eat During Pregnancy

There are just a few foods you may want to avoid during pregnancy. Soft cheeses with a mouldy rind, such as brie or blue cheese may contain listeria, a bacteria usually harmless to you but not safe for baby so they should be avoided. Be careful when cooking and eating poultry and eggs as these foods when undercooked can also be sources of a lot of bacteria.

Pregnancy and Weight Loss

Even if you were a little overweight before becoming pregnant now is not a good time to go on a diet. If you are following a healthy diet as detailed here you will be cutting down on fats and sugars so that is a good move overall but reasonable weight gain is a good sign of a healthy pregnancy so if you are eating well and gaining weight you should relax about the issue, you are supposed to be getting bigger.

When to Eat During Pregnancy

There may be many times when you don’t feel like eating, especially during the first trimester of your pregnancy. But just because you are not hungry does not mean that your baby is not. If the nausea that comes along with the early stages of pregnancy is really bothersome try eating 5 or 6 smaller meals a day instead of 3 big ones.

Mums to be who are still working need to keep a special eye on when they are eating. If you commute and are in a rush its easy to skip breakfast but during your pregnancy breakfast is a more important meal than ever. Even if all you eat is a smoothie and a bagel grabbed from a train station cafe that is better than missing out altogether!

Pregnancy and Treats

Being pregnant does not mean you cannot have the occasional treat just be a bit more sensible about it than normal. Replace a chocolate bar with a bag of fruit snacks for example if you are carving something sweet. And the occasional cookie or piece of cake is fine and if you enjoy such things as a special, occasional treat they will taste even better too!