Is there a specific diet that one should be eating while pregnant? Many of us fear the thought of gaining excessive weight and then struggling to lose it after the baby is born. There is so much to think about when pregnant, and our diet seems to be on the forefront of our minds. It doesn’t help that at every visit we have to stand on the dreaded scale and see our ever increasing weight gain. We should be careful with the word “diet” as it pertains to pregnancy. Even for those of us who struggle with our weight before we become pregnant, we need to continue to gain weight to maintain our health, and the health of the baby. When you visit your doctor, check with her for your expected weight gain, as that amount is determined by your pre-pregnancy weight. For the healthiest pregnancy, your goal should be a healthy, steady increase of weight over time. Too much weight gain, especially rapid weight gain increases your risk of complications during your pregnancy and could lead to high risk factors such as gestational diabetes and higher risk of cesarean section.
There truly is not a specific 5 foods to eat or to avoid, rather there are 5 types of foods that mothers should eat, and 5 types to avoid for the healthiest pregnancy. The foods you should be eating are the foods high in nutrients, vitamins and minerals. The foods you should be avoiding are the empty calories, high fat foods that can cause an increase of unhealthy weight gain. Let’s take a look at what they are:
1: Fruits: You should be consuming 2 cups of fruits daily through your whole pregnancy. Eating a variety of fruits, in a variety of colors is best. Fresh, frozen, dried or canned are all fine. If you choose the canned version, you want to avoid added sugar. 1 cup = 1 piece of fruit, 1 cup cut up fruit, ½ cup dried fruit
2: Vegetables: You should be consuming 2 ½ cups daily in your first trimester and 3 cups daily in your 2nd and 3rd trimesters. Eating a variety of vegetables, in a variety of colors will be most beneficial. Raw, cooked, frozen, canned are all fine. If you choose canned, no added sauces or salt is best. Raw leafy greens are very important, so throw some of those in there too! 1 cup = 1 cup raw or cooked vegetables or 2 cups raw leafy vegetables
3: Grains: You should be consuming 6 oz daily in your first trimester or 8 oz daily in your 2nd and 3rd trimesters. Choosing whole grains at least half of the time is important as well, limiting white bread, noodles and rice. 1 oz = 1 slice of bread or bagel, 1 cup ready to eat cereal or ½ cup cooked rice, pasta or oatmeal, 1 small tortilla.
4: Protein: You should be consuming 6-8 oz of protein daily. Choose healthy proteins that are lean, and remember that not all protein is meat. If you are a vegetarian, you still need the protein serving daily, so choosing plant based protein is fine. 1 oz = 1 oz of lean meat, poultry, or fish, 1 egg, ¼ cup cooked dry beans, a small handful of nuts, or 1 TBSP of peanut or almond butter.
5: Dairy: You should be consuming 3 cups of dairy daily through your whole pregnancy. It is suggested that you go low-fat when choosing milk, yogurt and cheeses. You need your foods rich in calcium for a healthy pregnancy. If you don’t like dairy foods, you can choose soy milk with added calcium, and make sure to eat lots of calcium nutrient vegetables (dark leafy greens). 1 cup = 1 cup milk or soy with added calcium, 8oz yogurt cup, 1 ½ oz cheese, or ½ cup shredded cheese.
1: High sugar foods: Foods and drinks that are high in sugar are empty calories and when consumed in high volumes will cause an increase in weight gain that could put you at higher risk during your pregnancy, and could put you at risk for gestational diabetes. Candy, donuts, soda, sugary cereals are all foods that should be avoided in pregnancy.
2: High fat foods: Foods that are high in fats, especially trans, saturated and solids fats like lard should be avoided during pregnancy. In high quantities, these will also contribute to high weight gain, increasing your risk. Check your labels closely to avoid those saturated and trans fats.
3: Raw or undercooked foods: There is an increased risk during your pregnancy with raw or undercooked foods. Bacteria can negatively affect the baby, so avoiding foods such as sushi, or undercooked meats, unpasteurized cheese, and deli-meats is important. All meats should be cooked fully and deli meats should be cooked to 165 degrees before consuming.
4: High Mercury Fish: Large sea fish should be avoided during pregnancy due to high levels of mercury. Fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish should all be avoided. Albacore tuna can be consumed at 6 oz per week, and you should not be consuming fish more than twice a week.
5: Drinks OTHER than water: Water is the most important beverage for a healthy pregnancy. Drinks with caffeine like coffee and tea, soda, fruit drink, juice, energy drinks, sports drinks and alcohol all should be avoided.
Eating during your pregnancy should not feel like a diet. You should have fun with different food combinations, and enjoy eating. If you feel like having a treat, then do it! Just try not to eat treats all the time. Overall, you want to make the healthiest choices you can for your pregnancy health and the health of you baby. For more information, click on the link.
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