Congratulations, you’re having a baby! With all the new emotions and responsibilities in your life at this time, the most important should be your pregnancy diet– which is directly related to the nutrition of your baby. Recent studies have shown that a mother’s high level of body fat during the conception phase may set the stage for their offspring’s higher obesity risk. The child’s future BMI (body mass index) is also more closely related to the mother’s than the father’s.
Remember your child is taking the nutrients from the food that you eat, so therefore it is not the amount of calories that is important but the amount of nutrient dense foods that you consume. You should be taking in only 200-300 calories more per day than usual (if you are on an already healthy diet. Since every opportunity to eat should be seen as a way to nourish your child, chose very nutrient dense foods that give you the most bang for your baby buck.
Pregnancy diet tips. Here are some examples of high quality, nutrient dense foods:
Grains like quinoa are filled with vitamins and nutrients. Quinoa is considered a perfect protein because it contains all essential amino acids. With a delicious nutty flavor, it is versatile and easy to use.
Calcium rich foods, like yogurt and low fat milk should be a staple every day. Four servings of these foods are ideal to reach the recommended 1200mg of calcium per day.
Leafy greens which are filled with folic acid are essential during pregnancy. Folic acid protects fetal development. Mix a variety of greens like spinach or broccoli and arugula for a delicious salad.
Lean meats will provide proper Iron levels that are needed during pregnancy. Lean red meat and eggs are great but all of the foods on this list are high in iron, even the quinoa. Remember avoid iron supplements unless directed by your doctor, too much iron can have the opposite effects in some people.
Since your body is more sensitive at this time, there are foods that should be avoided as to not affect your baby’s health. In general avoid caffeine and alcohol. Try to limit salt and high fat, high sugar foods.
Pregnancy Diet Tip: Here I discuss how to keep the vitamins in your vegetables:
Here are some examples of foods to avoid during pregnancy:
High mercury fish like shark, swordfish, and king mackerel. Low mercury fish are: shrimp, salmon, Pollock and catfish. Canned light tuna is fine but albacore tuna is higher in mercury.
Processed foods like deli meats can make your more susceptible to listeria, food bacteria that can be found in these foods. Smoked seafood can also contribute to risk of contamination.
Some raw foods. Cook all foods properly, specifically fish, meat, and eggs. These foods when raw can contain salmonella or other food bacteria. Skip sushi for a while and get your steaks cooked medium to well done.
Wash all your vegetables and fruit thoroughly. Pesticides and contaminants can be present. Also, remember to store properly away from chicken or meats.
With care and caution your pregnancy will be healthy and your baby will reap the rewards. Give your child the best start to life that you can, chose nutrient rich foods at every meal, to maximize your nutrition. Remember, staying fit during your pregnancy will reduce the time it takes to take your weight off after baby is born. GOOD LUCK.
-Fiorella DiCarlo RD, RDN, CDN