Eating a variety of foods (especially in season) is important throughout every stage of life. During pregnancy is no exception. Unfortunately, misconceptions about pregnancy drive some women to throw out their healthy eating habits and dive into a free for all at the local buffet. However, pregnancy should be considered the most important time to maintain your self-control.
Eating enough healthy foods to cover your nutritional needs is no longer enough, you must eat enough to keep you and your developing baby healthy. This is especially true if you plan to breast feed. Getting into the habit of healthy eating patterns now can benefit you during and after pregnancy.
Eating healthy during pregnancy not only has the added benefits of providing an optimal level of nutrition for you and your baby, but it also helps prevent too much or too little weight gain. As of now, the medical community does not have any one set number on how much weight to gain during pregnancy. However, women who are at a healthy BMI before becoming pregnant and then gain between twenty two and thirty pounds seem to have less pregnancy and labor complications than women who gain more or less weight.
It’s important to remember that even though eating healthy foods in moderate portions is essential for a healthy pregnancy, it’s okay and even recommended to give into your cravings every once in a while. Sometimes when you are craving certain foods it’s your body’s way of trying to tell you it’s lacking in a certain nutrient. For example, if you are craving oranges, that could be your body’s way of telling you that you’re lacking vitamin C.
If you’re not sure what to eat, there is a multitude of free food planners online that you can modify to fit your specific needs.
For example, the USDA offers a free food planner online that will not only help ensure you are eating enough calories, but also eating enough out of every food group. If you don’t like the templates the USDA uses, keep searching until you find one you’re comfortable with, or ask your doctor to provide you with one.
Either way, make sure you are getting a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and a healthy source of protein every day. When planning your balanced meals, don’t forget that during pregnancy, foods rich in folate, iron, and Vitamin D are especially important for your baby’s healthy psychological and physiological development.
If you are unable to eat plenty of vitamin rich foods, consult your physician about getting vitamin supplements. Many women find that during pregnancy they need to take regular iron supplements. Supplements are not only healthy, but help prevent anemia during pregnancy which can lead to complications for mother and baby.
Another tip to remember when picking up healthy foods is that there are certain foods you must now stay away from. For example, foods that could expose you to harmful food pathogens such as blue-veined cheeses.
Caffeine is okay in minimal amounts, but should be limited as it is a stimulate, especially in the amounts Americans consume on a daily basis. It is recommended that you stay away from alcohol completely. Consuming alcohol could lead to fetal alcohol syndrome.
A fun way to make eating healthy during pregnancy easy is to buy a blank recipe book. Play around with different foods and see what taste good to you in the moment. Write those recipes down so that in a pinch you have meal plans that you know will bring you balanced nutrition.
The most important key to keep in mind when it comes to pregnancy and nutrition is that eating healthy is not a diet, it’s a life style. Continuing to eat healthy even after you’re done with your pregnancy and breast feeding will provide your baby with a positive nutrition role model. If you enjoy eating healthy, so will your kids. Kids who grow up with healthy eating habits carry those behaviors into adulthood, which helps prevent obesity.
You could positively influence the nutritional health of your family for generations to come just by changing your eating habits now. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there to that local farmer’s market, grocery store, or even your own garden. Pick out some healthy foods and get cooking!