The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Whole grains may just be the holy grail of pregnancy foods.“The many varieties of whole grains are supercharged with vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants that offer benefits for both mom and baby,” says San Diego-based dietitian Wendy Bazilian, Dr.PH., R.D., author of The SuperFoodsRx Diet (Rodale). Plus, their complex carbohydrates help keep energy levels up throughout the day, she adds.
Fortified foods like vitamin D-enriched milk or calcium-added orange juice seem like an easy way to get the nutrients you need. But are they the best way to nourish you and your baby? The answer depends on the nutrient as well as the food it’s fortifying. “Adding nutrients can encourage people to look at a food as having a health halo when in reality it may be full of sodium, unhealthy fats or added sugars,” says Lisa Young, Ph.D., R.D., an adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University. Plus, too much of certain nutrients could cause unwanted side effects.
Baby, It's cold outside. While winter may not be the season you associate with fresh produce, a bounty of unsung winter vegetables is increasingly available. “It’s important for a healthy pregnancy that you get all the vital nutrients found in vegetables year-round,” says Tara Gidus, M.S., R.D., an Orlando, Fla.-based dietitian and mother of two.
As if being pregnant isn’t enough of a reason to celebrate, here’s another: You’re expected—and encouraged—to eat! Experts agree you need more calories, more often, as a mom-to-be. While it’s recommended that the average woman take in 2,000 calories each day, according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), expectant moms need roughly 340 extra calories a day in the second trimester and 450 extra calories in the third trimester.
You are what you eat. That’s old news. So is the fact that your diet during pregnancy affects your newborn’s health. But the new news is that what you eat in the next nine months can impact your baby’s health, as well as your own, for decades to come. Here are 10 easy nutrition rules that will benefit you both.
Omega-3 fish oils, particularly DHA, are touted as an important nutrient for pregnant women because of their role in fetal brain and eye development and in helping to prevent postpartum depression (PPD) in new mothers. Yet a recent randomized controlled trial—considered the “gold standard” of medical research—found that the children of women who took fish oil supplements during pregnancy had no better cognitive or language skills at 18 months than the children of women who took a vegetable oil placebo.
You may be hungrier than ever, but nausea, indigestion and the need to control your calorie intake can make it tough to get the nutrition you and your baby need. Our expert advice and satisfying recipes will help you overcome the challenges each trimester poses.
Rest easy, all you pregnant vegans and vegetarians out there: Medical experts, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Dietetic Association (ADA), have given you the green light to continue your current way of eating— as long as it’s well-planned. “You can have a healthy pregnancy on such a diet,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D., an ADA spokeswoman who sees pregnant vegetarians in her private practice.
“You just have to do it right.”
As you know, folate, fiber and iron are essential nutrients for you and your growing baby. What you may not know is that you can get all three by eating chives. Or, how about adding figs to your diet to boost your calcium intake?
If you’re like many pregnant women, you vowed to eat healthier the minute you found out you were expecting. You may even have started making a mental list of nutritional do’s and don’ts: Eat more calcium-rich foods, get more protein and cut out the caffeine and junk food. Good thing: Developing healthy eating habits now will set the stage for your baby to grow into a strong child and adult, as well as ultimately reduce his risk for certain diseases.
Soy has spent a lot of time in the spotlight in recent years, linked to lowering cholesterol levels and halting heart disease. The legume also packs a nutritional wallop during pregnancy. “Besides high-quality protein, soy is a great source of folate, iron, calcium, zinc and trace minerals,” says Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D. “Soybeans are also high in fiber, and they’re a source of omega-3 fatty acids.”
It may be tempting to trash your healthy eating habits during pregnancy. After all, you’re going to get big no matter what you eat, right? Not so fast. Experts say that making nutrition mistakes during pregnancy not only robs your baby of crucial nutrients, it also sabotages your own short- and long-term health. Make pregnancy an opportunity to improve your health, says registered physician assistant Amy Hendel, author of 2008’s Fat Families, Thin Families.
(This is not a medically approved approach to prenatal nutrition, it's just what I've been doing!)
I came down with a stomach bug last week. First I figured it was morning sickness revisited. Then I realized it was something much more persistent and all over. Next I began to think back over my recent dietary missteps.