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.
pregnancy nutrition basics
Every year, scientists uncover information about the critical role nutrients play in the mental and physical development of the fetus, including their ability to reduce the risk of birth defects and disease in newborns. Prenatal vitamins can help, but they can’t do the job alone, which is why your diet is so important.
Before you were pregnant, you probably didn’t think twice about enjoying a tuna-fish sandwich, a salad sprinkled with blue cheese or a glass of red wine. After all, tuna is brimming with protein, blue cheese contains bone-building calcium, and red wine in moderation can benefit your heart. But now that you’re expecting, these foods could pose a health risk to you and your growing baby, which is why it’s important to know exactly which foods and beverages you should avoid.
Almost every pregnant woman can look back to her early weeks of pregnancy and recall some type of risky behavior. For some it’s the headache tablet, the dental X-ray or the hair dye that makes them wince. In my case, it was the wine tasting that I attended on the night that I conceived. As it turns out, these slip-ups probably are fine, according to medical experts, although pregnant women do need to be alert to behaviors that could put their babies at risk.
now, more than ever, taking care of yourself is top priority. With your baby developing inside you, you know you should get the most out of what you’re eating. You also know that you need extra calories for your baby’s development. But there may be something you haven’t thought about: Avoiding foods that make you sick or that harm your growing baby is also an important part of the equation.
If you’re like many women — especially if this is your first pregnancy — you’ve become quite careful about what you eat. Artificial sweeteners are out, coffee is cut to just one cup a day, and only organic produce will do. Yet you may be surprised to learn that there are even better ways to ensure that you and your unborn baby avoid food-related illnesses and problems.
Congratulations! You’re pregnant. Now what? Do you get to eat everything in sight? Can certain foods harm your baby? We designed a quiz (with help from nutritionist Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.) to test your prenatal-nutrition knowledge and help you find out what you and your baby need to stay healthy during the entire 40 weeks.
1) Your body will require additional calories to build that baby. But how many—and when?