Eating healthy for two

October 26, 2011 Guest Blogger 3 comments

salmon-ginger-green-onion-recipe-bwell-med

When I found out I was pregnant, I was excited to start “eating for two.” I have to admit I was sad to find out that only meant adding 300 calories to my existing diet each day. When it comes to growing a healthy baby, the rules aren’t much different from eating healthy when you aren’t pregnant. You should eat a well-balanced diet with whole grains and colorful fruits and vegetables, organic when possible. Additionally you should supplement your diet with prenatal vitamins, extra protein and be especially mindful of your specific nutritional intake.

According to WebMD, when pregnant you need the following amounts of nutrients daily:

  • 1,000-1,300 mg of calcium for strong, healthy bones and teeth. Eat about 4 servings of tofu, dairy (click here to learn about getting enough calcium if you’re lactose intolerant), green vegetables, seafood (low mercury and cooked), peas and beans a day to get enough calcium.
  • 27 mg of iron, which is needed to form hemoglobin in your blood to carry oxygen around your body and to your baby. Look for iron in fortified cereals, lean meats, poultry, fish, leafy green vegetables, beans and peas.
  • 70 mg of vitamin C to repair tissue and help your body use iron. Eat plenty of oranges, broccoli and bell peppers.
  • 0.4-0.8 mg of folic acid to help prevent neural tube defects, such as Spina Bifida. This B vitamin is found in dark leafy greens, enriched grains, peas and beans.
  • 6-8 glasses of filtered water to help carry nutrients to your baby, replenish amniotic fluid, flush waste from your body (which means less chance of a urinary tract infection) and less water retention and swelling. Click here to read more about the importance of hydration during pregnancy.

Also make sure your diet is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important to both your and your baby’s developing brain, heart, and eyes. Research suggests a correlation between diets rich in DHA and a lower risk of many conditions, such as preterm delivery, low birth weight and postpartum depression. Eat walnuts, flax seed and salmon to get both ALA and DHA, and/or consider taking a daily DHA supplement.

I have found some books to be especially helpful with planning out my meals. 

Here in Atlanta, there are many great places to get fresh healthy food. My favorite places are Rainbow Natural Foods, Sevenanda, Your DeKalb Farmers Market, Life Grocery and Whole Foods Market. Here is how my menu might look on any given day to make sure I’m getting enough nutrients and protein:

There are also foods and beverages to avoid during pregnancy: alcohol, fish high in mercury (i.e. shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish), raw fish, unpasteurized milk and cheese, sprouts, and saccharin. You should also limit your caffeine intake to no more than 200 mg a day. Minimizing or eliminating trans fats, large amounts of saturated fats, sweetened beverages, candy and other sweets, artificial color dyes and sweetners like high fructose corn syrup will be among the important changes you can make now in your pregnancy that will shape a healthier life.

If you have special dietary needs or preferences, discuss them with your provider. He/She can offer you advice on how to get the needed nutrition and can refer you to a nutritionist for more individualized meal planning, if necessary. Here is one article on tips for healthy eating during pregnancy for vegetarians. You should also avoid dieting during pregnancy.

Do you have any favorite pregnancy cookbooks or recipes?

Salmon Photo: Gloria Dawson, food styling: Karen Berner

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  • Adrienne

    This is useful information. We love the Dekalb Farmers Market. I’m hoping to start (truly truly start) eating healthier before we start trying to conceive. We eat tons of organic foods now, but my issue is that I’m not a meat lover (though not a vegetarian). So my challenge will be finding enough protein to remain healthy levels during my pregnancy. Do you know if the birth center will have dieticians or nutritionists to assist with meal planning? Thanks for this post!

  • Jenna

    Adrienne, I actually am a vegetarian but have added salmon to my diet since I got pregnant to get extra DHA. I try to include a healthy protein source like nuts, beans, and quinoa to every meal and snack. Starting a healthy meal routine before conceiving sounds like a great plan!

  • dave

    Chris Kreser has an interesting product out on his site called the Healthy Baby Code. It is pretty good. Focusing on whole foods, nutrient dense, and science based nutrition.
    At odds with the whole special intrests food pyramid thing but, I’m fine with that.