Moms-to-be need a variety of foods from all the food groups. Some women need the reminder that there is no such thing as “bad food” and that a healthy diet is one that encourages variety. Even after the baby is born, that same balanced diet of sugars, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals is exactly what sustains energy and contributes to overall wellness. By creating a diet with a variety of foods can provide healthy women with enough nutrients for pregnancy.
Here’s a sample of what a balanced diet would include:
- Fruits: All types of fruits, fresh, frozen or canned. The greater the variety the better. Just make sure to wash fresh produce well (even the rinds of melons) before cutting, preparing or eating them.
- Vegetables: Eat a variety of colorful vegetables, fresh, frozen or canned with no added salt. Salt can worsen symptoms edema (or swelling) that are common during pregnancy. Raw sprouts should be avoided.
- Lean Protein: Choose lean protein from meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and peas, peanut butter, soy products and nuts. Pregnant women should avoid eating shark, swordfish and king mackerel, and limit white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces per week. Generally, sushi is not encouraged unless it is cooked fish. Deli, luncheon meats and hot dogs should be reheated (to 165 degrees Fahrenheit) if consumed.
- Whole Grains: Breads, cereals, pastas and brown rice. Not only are they packed with fiber to help alleviate constipation and promote regularity, they have several B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate), and minerals (iron, magnesium, and selenium)
- Dairy: This includes milk, cheese and yogurt. Unpasteurized milk and some soft cheeses that are made from unpasteurized milk should also be avoided.
- Fats: Avocado, nuts (walnuts, almonds, etc) and plant oils (olive oil, canola oil and coconut oil) are good choices.
Avoid extra calories from added sugar and fats, which can lead to rapid maternal weight gain that is not beneficial for the baby. This is the time to cut back on foods such as regular soda, sweets and fried snacks if able. Your doctor or registered dietitian nutritionist will also suggest a prenatal vitamin/mineral supplement to help ensure that you get enough iron, folic acid and other nutrients.
Even though this is just a basic overview, it’s very important to ask questions related to your, and your baby’s, nutrition as they come up. It’s never too early to schedule an appointment with a dietitian to guide you through the various life stages, whether it be preconception nutrition or weaning after nursing.