Dieting During Pregnancy: What You Need to Know
Today’s post is all about dieting during pregnancy, and whether or not it’s the best idea. All of the advice provided here is based on guidelines set by the American Pregnancy Association (APA).
As a general rule, dieting to lose weight during pregnancy is generally not healthy for the baby. This is because you can deprive yourself of vital nutrients like folic acid and iron. While modifying your diet can actually be a good thing, it’s important to ensure that you’re getting enough calories and nutrients to help your baby develop.
Here are a few guidelines to follow when considering modifying your diet during pregnancy:
1. Increase your caloric intake, but not by as much as you think.
Pregnancy is a great opportunity to calibrate your eating habits in a healthy way. While it is important to consume more calories than you would when not pregnant, it is recommended that you only increase your intake by 300 calories a day.
2. Cover all the food groups.
According to the APA, you should try to eat a variety of foods from the various food groups. Here are some general guidelines to consider:
- Fruits and Vegetables – Aim for fruits high in vitamin C (like oranges, grapefruit and honeydew) and vegetables rich in folic acid (like broccoli and Brussels sprouts). Dark, leafy vegetables are always a great idea. Aim for 2-4 servings of fruit and four or more servings of vegetables daily.
- Breads and Grains – Whole grains can provide important nutrients like iron, fiber and B vitamins. And enriched foods like cereal can also provide much-needed vitamins. Try to stray from processed foods, and aim for 6-11 servings (ounces) of breads/grains daily, depending on your dietary needs.
- Protein – It’s recommended that you have at least three servings of protein daily. You can get this from various sources: lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and quinoa.
- Dairy – Calcium is one of the most important elements to a healthy pregnancy diet. If you do not consume enough calcium during pregnancy, your body will take what calcium it needs from your bones. There are various dairy products that are good sources of calcium, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. However, if you are a vegetarian, vegan, or are lactose intolerant, you can also find calcium in green vegetables, beans and dried peas. Aim for four servings of dairy (or its equivalents) daily.
3. Ensure your vitamin intake is where it needs to be.
There are certain vitamins and nutrients that are integral to the development of your unborn child. Ensure you have a comprehensive prenatal vitamin and are getting the following vitamins/nutrients daily:
- 70 mg of vitamin C
- 0.4 mg of folic acid
- 27 mg of protein
- 1000 mg of calcium
- 27 mg of iron
At the end of the day, it’s always a good idea to consult with your health care provider on what will work best for you throughout your pregnancy. But hopefully these tips are a good jumping off point to help you make informed decisions to help your baby and yourself be the healthiest you can be.
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