eat right now
Making sense of the myths and realities of prenatal nutrition
I should start taking folic acid as soon as I find out that I’m pregnant.
Yes, but it’s best to start taking 400 micrograms of folic acid two months before you try to get pregnant. This B vitamin helps prevent certain types of birth defects that develop within the first few weeks of pregnancy, before many women even realize they’re pregnant. After conception, the recommended daily value for folate is 600 micrograms.
It’s OK to have a beer or glass of wine once in a while.
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy has been linked to birth defects, but it is not yet known how much alcohol increases the risk. For this reason, pregnant women are discouraged from drinking any alcohol during pregnancy.
Now that I’m pregnant, fish is not safe to eat.
Not all fish are dangerous, but check with your local health department regarding the safety of pregnant women eating fish caught in your area. Health officials may suggest that pregnant women avoid types of fish that are more likely to contain trace amounts of chemicals or heavy metals.
It does make good sense to avoid uncooked fish when you’re pregnant. “In addition to risking contracting a serious illness such as hepatitis, you’re more susceptible to food poisoning because your immune system is not as strong,” notes Ward. If sushi is a favorite, stick with California rolls (which contain cooked crab), cucumber rolls or other types of all-vegetable or cooked-fish sushi.
I can eat all I want now because I’m eating for two.
Not true. “While women often begin eating for two when they find out they’re pregnant, the extra calories needed per day in the first trimester are slight — the equivalent to about an 8-ounce glass of low-fat milk,” says Bridget Swinney, R.D., author of Eating Expectantly (Meadowbrook Press, 1996). “For the second and third trimesters, energy needs increase about 300 calories per day — the amount in a turkey-and-Swiss-cheese sandwich.”
Artificial sweeteners are dangerous to my baby.
Numerous studies have shown that artificial sweeteners, such as those used in diet sodas, yogurt and other foods, are safe for pregnant women and their babies. “It’s important to avoid filling up, however, on artificially sweetened beverages, especially if they are taking the place of milk and other more nutritious beverages,” says Duyff.