Eating for two does not mean a pregnant woman can eat twice the amount as a non-pregnant woman. During pregnancy, wise food choices and serving sizes help the mother to gain optimum weight and provide the nutrients her baby needs to develop and grow. Mothers carrying multiples or those who have particular health conditions should check with their doctor for specific dietary needs.
If you were at a healthy weight prior to your pregnancy and are carrying a single baby, you will only require an additional 300 calories daily, according to the March of Dimes. What foods make up the daily caloric intake, however, are important. Choose foods that are rich in nutrients. Limit the amount of empty-calorie junk foods.
A healthy diet remains the same as before pregnancy and includes foods from the five food groups. A balanced diet for a pregnant woman carrying a single baby includes 6 oz. whole grains, 2 ½ to 3 cups vegetables, 1 ½ to 2 cups fruit, 3 cups dairy, 5 to 5 ½ oz. protein each day. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and low-fat dairy, according to the March of Dimes.
The B vitamin folate helps prevent serious birth defects and pregnancy complications. It is found in green leafy vegetables, dried beans and peas and citrus fruits. Folate is also in many prenatal vitamin supplements and fortified foods, where it is known as folic acid, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Food to Avoid
While you are pregnant, certain foods can cause discomfort or harm your baby. These foods include raw or undercooked meats, undercooked deli meats, raw or lightly cooked, including soft-scrambled, eggs and raw sprouts. You should also avoid unpasteurized dairy products. Certain fish contains high levels of mercury; check with your doctor before eating any seafood, recommends the March of Dimes.
Simply because something is natural, herbal or organic does not mean it is safe to consume. Check with your doctor before consuming herbal supplements or drinking herbal teas.
Other Diet Hints
Drink at least six to eight glasses of water, milk or juice each day. Limit the amount of caffeine to 200 milligrams (mg), which the March of Dimes explains is approximately one 12-oz. cup of coffee.
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