Pregnancy: What To Eat And What To Avoid
If youâre pregnant and confused about what you can and cant eat, youre not alone. Itâs as much about including foods that can be beneficial to your baby as it is about avoiding foods that may be harmful. You neednt feel deprived during these exciting nine months if you know the facts.
Advice changes and differs from country to country. This information is consistent with the NHS advice.
Is Caffeine Safe During Pregnancy
Some studies have found a correlation between consuming high amounts of caffeine and miscarriage. But caffeine intake at or below 200 milligrams a day, or about one 12-ounce cup of coffee, does not cause miscarriage or preterm birth, the ACOG states.
Remember, if you have questions about what you should and shouldnt be eating and drinking during pregnancy, always check with your doctor.
I’m Finding It Hard To Eat A Balanced Diet As So Many Foods Make Me Feel Sick Could This Harm My Baby
Many women feel sick during pregnancy, particularly in the first 3 months. When you are being sick quite often, it can feel like you are not providing your baby with the right nutrition. Try not to worry, there is no evidence that pregnancy sickness affects your babys nutrition. If are experiencing and cant keep anything down, you should talk to your midwife.
Try eating small amounts often to avoid your blood sugar levels getting too low. There is some scientific evidence to suggest foods or drinks containing ginger help with mild to moderate pregnancy sickness.
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What To Eat When Youre Trying To Get Pregnant
Its never too early to make over your diet. Here are some of the best foods to add to your plate when you’re hoping to conceive:
- Spinach. Aim for four to five servings of vegetables a day. Leafy greens like spinach are a great choice: Spinach is a rich source of calcium, vitamin C, folate and potassium. Try adding a handful of spinach leaves to your smoothie, along with vanilla yogurt and a ripe banana.
- Oranges. Oranges are also packed with vitamin C, calcium and potassium. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, vitamin C from citrus fruits can also help your body better absorb iron from non-meat sources. To work more into your diet, try drinking a glass of orange juice or topping your salads with a few slices.
- Milk. Dairy products contain protein, potassium and calcium. Aim for three servings a day, and try to choose products that are fortified with vitamins A and D. Use fortified milk to make oatmeal or as a base for smoothies.
- Fortified cereals. Whether youre opting for cooked cereals or the ready-to-eat kinds, look for products made from whole grains and fortified with iron and folic acid, and little to no added sugar.
- Chickpeas. Beans and peas are excellent sources of protein and they also provide a dose of iron and zinc. Chickpeas are loaded with protein, zinc, potassium and fiber. Use them to make hummus or bake them and sprinkle on a salad.
- Salmon. Salmon delivers a dose of protein, healthy fats and potassium.
Healthy Eating Tips If Youre Trying To Get Pregnant
Overwhelmed? Dont be. You dont have to eat a perfect diet just tell yourself what youll tell your child some day: Do the best you can. And by starting to prioritize healthy eating habits now, itll be easier to stick to a healthy diet once you get pregnant.
When in doubt, keep these strategies in mind:
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
- What to Expect Before Youre Expecting, 2nd Edition, Heidi Murkoff.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Nutrition During Pregnancy, June 2020.
- National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements, Iodine, September 2020.
- National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements, Iron, February 2020.
- National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements, Calcium, March 2020.
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Your Bffs During Pregnancy
Want to grow the healthiest baby possible while staying within your prescribed weight gain? Then build a prenatal meal plan around fresh, lean food choices, says Dr. Meredith Watson-Locklear, an OB-GYN with Orlando Health Physician Associates.
Start off right by shunning pregnancys biggest food fallacy that you can consume twice as much because you are eating for two.
No, no, no, says Dr. Watson-Locklear. Yes, its true youre eating for yourself and a growing baby, but that baby is the size of a pea in the first trimester. If you were REALLY eating for two, you would weigh what two adults weigh. But youre eating for someone who, at birth, will weigh about eight pounds. Dont use pregnancy as an excuse to eat everything you want.
Instead, create a nine-month meal plan designed with your babys needs in mind. Opt for fresh, whole foods while bypassing those packed with empty calories or ingredients with possible parasites, food-borne illnesses or toxins.
Color Your Diet With Fruits
Some people will warn you against fruit consumption when you ask them about what not to eat during pregnancy. This is a myth. Fruit isnt just delicious it can help curb your sugar cravings and supply you and your baby the necessary nutrients. As long as you arent eating them in juice form too often, fruits are an important part of your pregnancy diet. If canned, choose unsweetened.
Be cautious in your preparation of fruit. Dont use knives used for other raw foods that may have bacteria, and always thoroughly rinse raw fruit under running water. Rinsing your fruit is important since bacteria can be found on the outer rind or peel, which can cause illness or be harmful to you and baby. Cut off damaged or bruised spots to help remove any bacteria hiding out in these areas.
It is worth noting that eating fruits should be done with care. Observing how your body reacts every time you have some will help. For example, if you have a spike in your blood sugar or notice abnormal weight gain, you should cut back.
You can have moderate servings of the following fruits:
- Dried fruits
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A Message From The American Academy Of Physician Assistants
PAs are licensed health professionals, and valued members of a health care team that includes a supervising physician. PAs deliver a broad range of medical and surgical services to diverse populations. They can diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, develop treatment plans, and write prescriptions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories, with the exception of Puerto Rico. PAs also counsel on preventive health care and assist in surgery.
AAPA is the only national organization to represent the nations more than 108,500 physician assistants in all clinical specialties. Founded in 1968, the Academy works to promote quality, cost-effective health care, and the professional and personal growth of PAs. For more information about the Academy and the PA profession, visit AAPAs Web site, www.aapa.org.
Foods To Avoid In Pregnancy
When you’re pregnant, everything that goes into your mouth gets shared with your growing baby. Even though some types of foods and even some types of food poisoning may not hurt you, they may harm your little one.
To avoid food poisoning, be careful not to eat any food left out of the refrigerator for more than two hours .
Be sure to limit caffeine to 200 mg a day . And, as you probably know, forget alcohol while your baby is growing inside you.
To stay safe, also avoid these foods during your pregnancy.
- Cold cuts, deli meats, hot dogs, and other ready-to-eat meats.
- Pre-stuffed, fresh, turkey or chicken
- Steak tartare or any raw meat
- Rare cuts of meat and undercooked meats
- Refrigerated pates or meat spreads.
- Locally caught bluefish, pike, salmon, striped bass, trout, and walleye
- King mackerel, shark, swordfish, and tilefish, which have high levels of mercury
- Smoked cod, smoked salmon or lox, smoked mackerel, smoked trout, smoked tuna, and smoked whitefish, or other smoked fish
- Sushi or any raw fish or raw shellfish
- Raw eggs
- Raw cookie dough.
- Caesar salad dressing, bearnaise sauce, hollandaise sauce, mayonnaise, and any homemade dressings and sauces made with raw eggs
- Mousse, meringue, tiramisu, and any homemade desserts made with raw eggs
Milk and Cheese
- Unpasteurized milk
- Any cheese made from unpasteurized milk.
Fruits and Veggies
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Foods And Drinks To Avoid During Pregnancy
We like to focus on the positive what you can have rather than what you cant. And there are so many wonderful foods you can eat! However, there are some foods that need to be avoided during pregnancy because they could put your baby at risk.
The foods you should avoid while youre pregnant are those that could contain harmful bacteria, such as listeria, E. coli, salmonella, and toxoplasma, or parasites. Listeria could lead to a serious infection which could result in the loss of your baby. This is why we urge you to avoid unpasteurized foods, milks and juices, and raw or undercooked fish, eggs, and meat.
How Much Should You Eat Each Day During Pregnancy
Most pregnant women need only about 300 extra calories per day during the last 6 months of pregnancy. A glass of skim milk two small crackers and a tablespoon of peanut butter have approximately 300 calories. The exact amount depends on your weight before pregnancy. If youre underweight before pregnancy, you may need more calories. If youre overweight before, you may need less. Talk to your provider about whats right for you.
Use this sample menu to plan healthy meals.
Knowing how big each of these serving sizes is can be tricky. Here are some everyday items that can help:
- 1 cup is about the size of a baseball.
- 1/3 cup is about as much as you can fit in your hand .
- ½ cup is about the size of a tennis ball.
- ¼ cup is about the size of a golf ball.
- 1 tablespoon is about the size of ½ a ping pong ball.
- 1 ounce of meat is about the size of two thumbs.
- 3 ounces of meat is about the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand.
- A small fruit is about the size of a tennis ball.
Go to ChooseMyPlate.gov website to learn more about how to make healthy food choices during pregnancy. ChooseMyPlate shows the amounts and foods that you may want to eat at every trimester during your pregnancy. They break down food into five groups:
Follow these ChooseMyPlate guidelines:
Other ways to eat healthy and make sure youre getting enough nutrients are:
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Healthy Snacks In Pregnancy
If you get hungry between meals, try not to eat snacks that are high in fat and/or sugar, such as sweets, biscuits, crisps or chocolate. Instead, choose something healthier, such as:
- small sandwiches or pitta bread with grated cheese, lean ham, mashed tuna, salmon, or sardines, with salad
- salad vegetables, such as carrot, celery or cucumber
- low-fat, lower-sugar fruit yoghurt, plain yoghurt or fromage frais with fruit
- hummus with wholemeal pitta bread or vegetable sticks
- ready-to-eat apricots, figs or prunes
- vegetable and bean soups
Find out more about healthy food swaps.
When choosing snacks, you can use food labels to help you. Find out more about food labelling, including how the “green, amber, red” code can help you make healthier choices quickly.
How Important Is Nutrition In First Trimester
The first trimester of pregnancy is the first 12 weeks you are pregnant. While you may not yet be outwardly showing that you are pregnant, this is a crucial time for you and your baby. This is because both your body and your baby’s body will be rapidly changing.
The first trimester is the most sensitive time in your pregnancy. You must eat foods that nourish your body, and you should stay away from drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.
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Fruit And Veg Don’t Have To Be Expensive
If you choose fruits and vegetables that are in season, they are often cheaper. Look out for offers at the supermarket or your local greengrocer. Loose fruit and vegetables are often cheaper than pre-packed. Market stalls can offer great value for money, as can local vegetable and fruit box schemes and farmers markets. You can also find out whether you are eligible for Healthy Start food vouchers, which can be put towards fruit and vegetables.
Deli Meats Soft Cheese And Raw Sushi
Deli meats and soft cheeses should be avoided or cooked well as they have a high risk of being contaminated with bacteria called listeria, which can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or a sick baby.
Hard cheeses are safe to eat during pregnancy as long as they have been made with pasteurized milk. Pasteurized soft cheeses are also safe if they have been cooked.
Sushi often contains fish which is healthy to eat during pregnancy. However, avoid any sushi made with raw or undercooked meat or fish, as these carry a high risk for contamination with bacteria.
Fish is a healthy source of protein, iron and omega-3 fats. But be sure to choose fish that is low in mercury and limit or restrict eating fish high in mercury. Mercury that is ingested by mom can harm a growing fetus.
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It’s Wise For Expecting Mothers To Watch What They Eat But What About Fruit All About Women Physicians Discuss Which Fruits To Eat During Your Pregnancy And Which Fruits To Avoid
When it comes to a pregnancy diet, it can feel like the restrictions never end: no caffeine, seafood, deli meat, etc. Women should certainly be cautious about what goes into their bodies because it’s very possible that a baby’s growth and development could be negatively affected by certain foods and drinks.
Fruits can provide women with a plethora of healthy vitamins and minerals that can be very beneficial for a newborn child however, some fruits carry risks when they are eaten during a pregnancy.
Read on to learn which fruits should and should not be eaten while you are pregnant.
Other Facts About Iron
- Vitamin C helps your body use iron. It is important to include sources of vitamin C along with foods containing iron and iron supplements.
- Caffeine can inhibit the absorption of iron. Try to consume iron supplements and foods high in iron at least one to three hours before or after drinking or eating foods containing caffeine.
- Iron is lost in cooking some foods. To retain iron, cook foods in a minimal amount of water and for the shortest possible time. Also, cooking in cast iron pots can add iron to foods.
- Constipation is a common side effect of taking iron supplements. To help relieve constipation, slowly increase the fiber in your diet by including whole grain breads, cereals, fruits, and vegetables. Drinking at least eight cups of fluids daily and increasing moderate exercise can also help you avoid constipation.
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Folic Acid/folate/vitamin B 9
Folic acid, a B vitamin needed to help the baby grow, is key before and throughout pregnancy. Folic acid reduces the risk of spina bifida and other birth defects of the brain and spinal cord, which are also called neural tube defects . Folate is the term for the different forms of the nutrient found naturally in foods. Folic acid is the form used in supplements and in enriched grain products.
Enriched bread, flour, pasta, rice, cereals, and other grain products are common food sources of folic acid. To see if your food contains folic acid, check food labels to see if the food contains folic acid or folate.
Any woman planning to become pregnant should consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily to help prevent birth defects. This is along with eating foods that contain folate. Women who have had a baby with NTD in the past should take 4 mg per day of folic acid before getting pregnant again.
There are many ways to meet your folate/folic acid needs. First, take a multivitamin with folic acid. Also, be sure to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, enriched grain products, legumes , citrus fruits and juices.
Foods To Avoid While Pregnant
Raw Meat: Uncooked seafood and rare or undercooked beef or poultry should be avoided during pregnancy because of the risk of contamination with coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella. At home, the temperature should reach at least 145 F for whole cuts, 160 F for ground meats like hamburger, and 165 F for chicken breasts.
Deli Meat: Deli meats have been known to be contaminated with listeria, which can cause miscarriage. Listeria has the ability to cross the placenta and may infect the baby, which could lead to infection or blood poisoning and may be life-threatening. If you are pregnant and you are considering eating deli meats, make certain that you reheat the meat until it is steaming.
Fish with Mercury: Fish that contain high levels of mercury should be avoided. Mercury consumed during pregnancy has been linked to developmental delays and brain damage. A sample of these types of fish includes shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. Canned, chunk light tuna generally has a lower amount of mercury than other tuna, but still should only be eaten in moderation. The American Pregnancy Association recommends Safe Catch Tuna because their testing technology ensures each can of tuna is as pure as wild salmon or wild sardines.
Certain types of fish used in sushi should also be avoided due to high levels of mercury. Please see Mercury in Fish for specific types of fish and further information on how to calculate mercury levels.
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