Basically, the principles of a healthy diet during pregnancy stay the same as before: eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains, don’t consume too much caffeine and foods rich in fat and sugar. However, you will need a few extra nutrients to your diet (see below).
As for the quantities, the common belief that you have to “eat for two” is a myth. In fact, you don’t need any extra calories for the first six months of pregnancy. Your body becomes more efficient during pregnancy, and makes better use of the food you consume. This means you’ll only need about 200 extra calories per day for the last three months. Listen to your body and eat only when you’re hungry, as your appetite might fluctuate throughout the pregnancy:
In the first few weeks your appetite may decrease away dramatically, especially if you have morning sickness.
Your appetite might slightly increase during the middle part of your pregnancy, or stay the same as before you got pregnant.
Your appetite will probably increase towards the end of your pregnancy. Eat small, frequent meals to avoid heartburn. Avoid dieting during pregnancy, even if you don’t like the way your body looks when you look in the mirror. You’ll have plenty of time to get back into shape later but in the present, your growing baby needs nutrients, and some diets can leave you low on important vitamins and minerals such as folic acid and iron. If you are overweight, you can avoid foods rich in fat and sugar and exercise a bit. Consult a doctor before changing your diet or increasing your physical activity.
What To Eat When Pregnant
Healthy eating during pregnancy should include the four main food groups:
Fruits and vegetables: At least five portions each day.
Starchy food: bread, pasta, rice (the wholegrain versions are recommended) and potatoes.
Foods rich in protein: Lean meat and chicken, fish, eggs etc.
Dairy products: Milk, cheese and yoghurt (preferably without sugar). Calcium is important, and you will need twice as much each day during your pregnancy.
During your pregnancy, you should take:
Iron: You may need it later on in your pregnancy.
You can take multivitamins that contain both supplements and many others.
What Not To Eat When Pregnant
First of all, it is better to avoid alcohol during pregnancy.
Raw and undercooked meat and eggs. They may contain harmful bacteria.
Raw fresh seafood (including sushi).
Fish that contain unsafe levels of naturally occurring mercury such as swordfish, shark, and marlin. As tuna contains some mercury too, so it’s best you don’t eat more than four medium-sized cans per week.
Mouldy and blue-veined cheeses such as brie, camembert, and stilton. Those kinds of cheese could contain listeria, a bacteria that could harm your baby.
Avoid eating liver and pate, because they may contain large amounts of retinol (a form of vitamin A).
Aspartame, an artificial sweetener often in soft drinks, chewing gum, breakfast cereals etc, is safe for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, you should limit consumption to a moderate level and avoid aspartame during pregnancy altogether if you have PKU (a rare metabolic disorder), a rare liver disease, or if you have high levels of phenylalanine (a component of aspartame that may not metabolize correctly) in your blood.
You don’t have to give up your morning cup of coffee, but it’s recommended you cut back on caffeine during pregnancy nonetheless. 200mg of caffeine a day is enough, which means two to three mugs of instant coffee/ four cups of tea a day.
It may seem like a long list of dont’s. However, there’s still plenty of wholesome, delicious foods you can enjoy during your pregnancy while providing your future baby with all the nutrients he/she needs.