There are affiliate links in this post. Guest post written by Greg Stein.
During pregnancy, people will often say that you are “eating for two”, however, that isn’t quite true. It’s only in your final trimester that you have to increase your caloric intake for your growing baby. Even then it certainly doesn’t mean doubling it. At the same time, there are certain foods that you’ll want to concentrate more on and foods that you’ll want and need to avoid.
Here’s a look at all you need to known about eating during pregnancy to make sure you look after your little one.
Pregnancy Weight Gain Understood
Before looking at food, weight gain during pregnancy is something many women are concerned about. Weight gain is normal, but how much is healthy for you and your baby?
The normal amount of weight gain is between 11.5 and 16 kg (25 and 35 lbs) throughout the pregnancy. This weight gain is for women who are already at a normal and healthy weight according to their BMI. Women who are underweight will need to gain a little extra to support their baby. The recommendation is between 12.5 and 18 kg (27 and 39 lbs). If a woman is overweight, she will still need to gain some weight, but not as much as women who are in a healthy weight range.The recommended amount for women who are overweight or obese according to their BMI is a weight gain between 7 and 11.5 kg (15 and 25 lbs).
Most of the weight a pregnant woman gains will actually be from the baby, the placenta and the extra blood that her body will carry. If she sticks to a healthy weight gain for her current weight, she’ll find it easier to lose the weight afterwards and it will also support her baby fully during development.
Most of the weight gain will happen during the second and third trimester. Don’t worry if you do lose weight during the first trimester, especially if you struggle with morning sickness. Your body will cope and your doctor or midwife will keep an eye on you to make sure your baby is healthy.
How Much Extra Should I Eat?
With the weight gain now in mind, it’s time to look at how much extra you should eat. During your first two trimesters, you can get the idea of eating for two out of your head. There’s no need to increase your calorie intake during the first six months or so.
Your baby will get all the nutrients he or she needs from your body. If you feel weak or nauseous throughout the day, look at changing the way you eat rather than the amount.
Consider smaller meals spread out throughout the day, rather than eating three full meals with a couple of snacks. This way, you’re not taking in any extra calories, but giving your body the fuel when it really needs it.
The last trimester is when you will need to eat more, however, you’ll only need an extra 300 to 500 calories on a daily basis for your baby. Think of this as the equivalent of a slice of toast with beans! It’s really not nearly as much as you may think.
Stick to a Healthy Diet
When you are eating, you want to focus on a healthy and balanced diet throughout the nine months. Your baby needs nutrients, and most of these will come from fruit, vegetables and protein-based foods. That being said, you will also need to follow the list of foods that you shouldn’t eat throughout your pregnancy.
Fruit and vegetables are foods that you need to add to your daily diet. You’ll get the majority of your nutrients from these alone, including your zinc, folic acid, calcium and vitamin A. Some women find that they crave watery vegetables and fruits, and it could be your body’s way of telling you that you’re dehydrated and your baby needs more.
If you’re suffering from morning sickness, water-based fruits and vegetables are often the easiest to keep down. For those who can’t stomach eating, you may consider blending your fruit and vegetables into a smoothie.
Protein and starchy carbohydrates are an important part of your daily diet. These come from lean meats, lentils, eggs, potatoes, some root vegetables and whole grain breads or pasta.
Be sure to eat a varied diet every day and you’ll give your baby the nutrients he or she needs. You can also take vitamin supplements to make sure you get the required amount.
Watch Out for High Sugar & High Fat Foods
Diabetes is common during pregnancy (gestational diabetes). To avoid gestational diabetes it is recommended that you watch out for eating too many foods that are high in refined sugar. The focus here is on refined sugars and not fruits. Fruit is a natural sugar source. Refined sugars increase insulin, making it harder to keep weight gain to a normal amount. You’ll also find that you have a sudden boost of energy and then a drop soon after; this causes the feeling to eat more.
We are not to saying all refined sugars are off the list. In moderation you’ll find them not too bad, but don’t use pregnancy as an excuse to eat it all.
Your body does need some fat, but we want to encourage you to focus on healthy fats. Foods that are high in saturated fats should be eating moderately. There are some high fat foods that you need to cut out altogether. Your baby needs to have some fat because it helps with regulating temperature after birth; look at healthy fats, like those in olive or coconut oil.
What Should You Avoid and Why?
Certain foods need to be avoided during pregnancy. Some of these are due to potential illness, while others are due to the risk of your baby’s development.
Watch out for under-cooked meats and fish, runny eggs and milk or ice cream made from unpasteurized milk. There is a higher risk of bacteria settling in your gut (as well as sour stomach), and you could suffer from severe food poisoning. If you must have unpasteurized milk, you’ll need to boil it first to get rid of the bacteria.
Pates, some fish such as swordfish and large amounts of tuna, soft blue or “moldy” cheeses, and caffeine are a risk to your unborn baby. Swordfish and similar fishes are higher in mercury levels, while pates have the meat-form of vitamin A. There is bacteria in cheese and caffeine is considered dangerous to the baby’s development. All could lead to miscarriage/still births or birth defects.
When you look at the list of foods that you can or can’t eat, you may feel overwhelmed. Remember some of them can be eaten when cooked because you’ll get rid of the bacteria, while some of the food will need to wait until the end of your pregnancy to enjoy again. After birth, you’ll be able to make up for not being able to eat some of your favorite foods.
Eating during pregnancy is all about doing the best for your developing baby. You don’t need to be perfect throughout, but focus on being as healthy as possible and focus on a normal weight gain for your starting weight. You’ll give your baby the best start in life, and make it much easier to lose the weight afterwards. The banned food list isn’t there to be annoying. It’s to make sure you avoid foods that are likely to cause birth defects or make you extremely ill. Have fun during this time and try out some of those healthy recipes you’ve always wanted to give a go.