Eating For Two?
The top 5 prenatal nutrition blunders
Mistake 3: Feeling tired & stressed
Why, you may wonder, are psychosocial factors considered nutritional mistakes? Because studies show they have a negative impact on your diet. "Overtired, fatigued women tended to eat more empty-calorie carbohydrates like candy and cookies, the kind that provide quick energy but lead to a decrease in important nutrients like folate and vitamin C," says Laura Caulfield, Ph.D., an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Human Nutrition in Baltimore, referring to a recent study she co-authored that examined how stress affects diet during pregnancy. "And they ate fewer vegetables, fruits, beans--the nutrient-dense foods that pregnant women should choose."
Solution: Pay as much attention to your emotional well-being as to your physical health. Stress and weariness lead to poor food choices, so get enough sleep and discuss with your doctor any anxiety you're experiencing.
Mistake 4: Skipping breakfast
Experts advise that pregnant women eat three small meals and two snacks at regular intervals--every three to four hours--to help maintain steady blood glucose (sugar) levels. But many women habitually eschew the morning meal, and continue to do so even when expecting. "By morning you've gone eight to 12 hours without food, so you need to eat," Caulfield says. "Skipping breakfast and [other] meals increases the risk of premature labor."
Without a healthy morning meal, you also may feel sick to your stomach, lightheaded and, soon, famished. But what if you already have morning sickness? "Many times, keeping something in the stomach can help ward off morning sickness," Blazier says. Soon after getting up, eat just a little of whatever you can tolerate, such as rice or rice cakes, toast or saltine crackers. If you can't keep down anything at all, don't give up. "Try to eat a very small amount every two hours," Blazier advises. "Some women may have to live on rice for a couple of weeks if that is all they're able to handle." And be sure to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
Other nausea soothers include citrus, ginger, mint and watermelon. Choose foods with those ingredients; even just sniffing a lemon or sprig of fresh mint may do the trick. Or try this simple, refreshing recipe for watermelon pops (even better if you can get someone to make them for you!): Puree 4 cups of frozen, seedless, cubed watermelon and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in a blender. Strain the purée through a fine-mesh sieve, then pour it into popsicle molds, small paper cups or an ice cube tray. Freeze and enjoy.
Solution: If you've never been a breakfast eater, start with yogurt and a banana; then add whole grains and lean protein a few weeks later.