Although everyone should follow a healthy diet low in fat and processed sugar, it is especially important when you are pregnant and eating for two–or more. Not only will you need to consume more calories to accommodate your baby, but the Mayo Clinic also recommends that folic acid, calcium, iron and protein be present in your diet. Pregnant women generally need to consume an additional 300 calories per day, but you should consult your health provider to determine the proper amount of calories for you and your baby.
The March of Dimes recommends that you eat 6 oz. of grains, 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of milk and 5 oz. of protein per day during your pregnancy, leaving plenty of options for healthy breakfast ideas. Assuming morning sickness is not a problem, make yourself two pancakes (skip the butter and opt for sugar-free syrup), a hard-boiled egg, an apple and 1 cup of milk. A fried egg on two slices of toast with a slice of cheddar cheese and 1 cup of orange juice also offers a healthy start to your day.
Java junkies should switch to decaffeinated versions of their favorite hot beverage. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services cautions that too much caffeine may interfere with sleep, cause irritability or result in low birth-weight babies.
Moms-to-be should consume roughly 2.5 cups of vegetables per day, so be sure to add some of that green, leafy stuff to your lunch menu. Although healthy lunch options include any type of salad with meats and cheeses, a spinach salad with hard-boiled eggs or grilled chicken provides some of the folic acid and protein needed for you and the baby. Other healthy alternatives include a turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread with mustard, lettuce and cheese, a serving of minestrone soup loaded with beans or a chicken wrap in a whole-grain tortilla loaded with veggies. Avoid adding raw sprouts, like alfalfa or bean sprouts, to your salads.
Skip the tuna melt and opt for peanut butter instead. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) reports that tuna, particularly albacore, contains low levels of mercury, and that pregnant women consume no more than 6 oz. per week. You should avoid shark, swordfish and king mackerel. Limit your consumption of shrimp, salmon, pollock and catfish.
Turkey chili con carne, topped with Monterey jack or colby cheese, a side of cornbread and a glass of milk add protein, folic acid, calcium and iron to your diet. Follow up a lean hamburger or steak, baked potato and grilled asparagus with a fruit salad to satisfy your sweet tooth. Marinate salmon in lime juice and fresh ginger before grilling it for a healthy source of protein. Serve it over a rice pilaf and steamed broccoli with just a touch of lemon juice. Skip the sushi and raw oysters, and avoid soft cheeses like brie or Camembert.
Small snacks in between meals help to keep pregnancy-induced nausea at bay. Keep a supply of cheese, yogurt, nuts, fruits and cut-up vegetables at hand to nosh on mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
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