Three registered dietitians (and mothers) offer up their best tips for healthy prenatal eating.
TIP 1: Eat whole foods. Consume foods as close to their original form as possible; your best bets are fresh fruit and vegetables, 100-percent whole grains, nonfat or low-fat milk products, extra lean meats, poultry and fish, nuts and nut butters. Remember that what you eat now can have lifelong effects on your baby.
Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D., author of Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy (2002) and mother of two in Salem, Oregon.
TIP 2: Be fat finicky. From the type of fat to the amount, it pays to be selective. Too much fat can aggravate heartburn and nausea, while not getting enough omega-3 fats could affect your baby’s brain development. Choose mostly monounsaturated fats, such as olive and canola oils; and omega-3 fats, found in salmon, flax seed, walnuts and fortified eggs.
Bridget Swinney, M.S., R.D., author of Eating Expectantly: A Practical and Tasty Approach to Prenatal Nutrition (2006) and mother of two in El Paso, Texas
TIP 3: Always keep food safe. Don’t eat undercooked meats, runny eggs, raw fish, anything unpasteurized (raw milk, soft cheeses) or any perishable food that has been sitting out at room temperature for more than an hour. Refrigerate leftovers immediately and reheat to steaming hot. Keep your refrigerator at 38° F.
Tara Gidus, M.S., R.D., spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and mother of a toddler in Orlando, Fla.
TIP 4: Retool your old favorites: Love chili dogs? Find a nitrate-free, natural hot dog and top it with some low-fat turkey chili. Can’t resist cobbler? Mix your favorite fruit with whole grain oats and brown sugar. Top it with a dollop of low-fat vanilla yogurt and enjoy it for breakfast.
Bridget Swinney, M.S., R.D.
TIP 5: Follow your hunger. The extra 300 calories per day that you need during your second and third trimesters may not be as much food as you think. Pay attention to portion sizes, eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied, not stuffed.
Tara Gidus, M.S., R.D.
TIP 6: Supplement wisely. Many prenatal vitamins contain the iron and folic acid you need, but only a smattering of other nutrients. Take a moderate-dose multi-vitamin with extra folic acid and iron to fill in the gaps on the days you don’t eat perfectly. Also take a calcium-magnesium supplement if you aren’t getting at least 1,000 mg of calcium and 350 mg of magnesium a day from your diet.
Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D.