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M&Ms, jelly beans, pizza and Cap’n Crunch cereal are just a small sampling of the foods women crave during pregnancy. With strong aversions and cravings, it’s hard to eat well throughout the entire nine months (even if you’re a nutritionist).
But eating well doesn’t mean eating a lot. Don’t fool yourself into thinking, “Hey, I’m eating for two, pass the doughnuts.” Contrary to what some people might think, now is not the time to win the gold medal in the food Olympics. Cramming in lots of high-calorie foods more than likely will leave you with extra pounds to lose after the baby is born.
In fact, your calorie requirements increase by only about 150 extra calories a day during the first trimester (most women will need approximately 2,000–2,200 total), and around 300 extra calories a day during the second and third trimesters. These are only general guidelines, though. Caloric requirements vary depending on prepregnancy weight and activity level.
It’s the quality of your food selections that counts most now, since it directly affects your growing baby. Eat plenty of foods loaded with nutrients, and you’ll shower that growing bambino with all the right ingredients. Don’t deprive yourself of cravings and urges — that’s one of the fun things about being pregnant. Just try to be smart with your food choices 90 percent of the time, and follow our guide to simple eating for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
Take a closer look at some of the key ingredients that are responsible for supplying your baby with the right stuff, then check out our five-day meal plan.
Calcium Your daily calcium requirement shoots up from 800–1,200 milligrams when you become pregnant. This adds up to four servings of dairy products or three servings and one
8-ounce glass of calcium-fortified orange juice.
“It’s even a good idea to aim for a range of 1,200–1,500 milligrams of calcium,” says Elyse Sosin, M.S., R.D., nutritionist for the women’s health program at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, “especially if you’re at risk for falling short because of a special diet, like a vegan one [no meat or dairy products].” If you are lactose-intolerant (unable to digest milk products properly), look for lactose-reduced or lactose-free products, stock up on calcium-fortified juices and grains, and speak with your doctor about supplemental calcium.
Calcium is especially critical because it not only protects your bones, tissues and teeth, but it also helps in the formation of the baby’s. When you skimp on calcium-rich foods and don’t supplement, the calcium in your bones could be used to meet the increased demands of the growing fetus by decreasing your bone density, which may be critical in later years.
Calcium-rich foods include milk and milk products, cheese, yogurt (opt for low-fat dairy whenever possible), fortified juices, fortified cereals and other grains, tofu (processed with calcium), sardines and salmon canned with bones, almonds, kale, collard greens, spinach and broccoli.