A healthy diet is important at any time, but is especially crucial during pregnancy to ensure that you and your baby have all the right nutrients needed: it will help your baby develop and grow, and help keep fit and well. Eat a variety of of different foods each day to get the right balance of nutrients, and avoid certain foods that may be harmful to your growing baby.
Fruits and Vegetables - Try to eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables each day, especially iron-rich green leafy vegetables. These provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber which will help you with digestion and prevent constipation. Ideally, eat them lightly cooked or raw. Frozen, canned and dried fruit and vegetables are good alternatives.
The Importance of Iron - Iron is essential for the production of hemoglobin, and you will need to up your intake in pregnancy to support the increase in blood volume. If your diet lacks iron, you may feel tired, and may suffer from anemia. Lean meat, eggs, green leafy vegetables dried fruit and nuts, and fortified cereals all contain iron.
Starchy Foods - Starchy foods, such as bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, yams, and breakfast cereals, should form the main part of any meals and are an important source of vitamins and fiber. Try eating whole grains - bread, cereals and pasta - since these contain more fiber and can prevent constipation.
Proteins - You should have two to three servings, of lean protein each day. A serving of protein in 2 oz. lean meat, poultry, or fish; 2 tbs peanut butter, two eggs, 4 oz. of tofu. Avoid liver (including liver pate) since it contains high levels of vitamin A, which increase the risk of birth defects.
Dairy foods -Foods that contain milk, such as cheese and yogurt, provide calcium, which is essential for healthy bones. It is important that your calcium intake is high before and during pregnancy. Avoid non-pasteurized soft cheeses (such as Camembert, Brie and Chevre) and blue cheeses, since this may contain the harmful bacteria listeria.
Fluids -During pregnancy your blood volume will increase, so it is important to keep up your fluid intake. Water is best, although fruit juices are also good. Try to restrict your intake coffee and tea to two cups per day. Alcohol is not recommended.
Foods To Cut Back On - Limit your intake of fatty and sugary foods and carbonated drinks, since they contain calories but few nutrients. You should also limit diet sodas since they are full of artificial sweeteners.
Vegetarian Diet - This needs to provide a sufficient intake of iron, calcium, vitamin B12, and protein. Include dairy products, legumes and beans, fortified cereals, eggs, seeds, nuts, and green leafy vegetables in your diet, and talk to your doctor about taking a supplement if necessary.