Top 10 Nutrition Tips for Expectant Moms

by Bridgette R. Odom

Top 10 Nutrition Tips for Expectant MomsEating for two doesn't mean you should eat everything and anything. In fact, knowing what to eat is so important, we created this top ten list of suggestions to help you out!

Once you're pregnant, you probably starting wondering what you should eat to make sure you're getting everything you need. Good nutrition during your pregnancy is essential and it isn't as hard to do as you might think.

Use these helpful suggestions as a guide on your pregnancy journey. Fill your body with delicious and nutritious food. When you do this, you're providing your developing child with bountiful amounts of baby-building blocks.

What Do You Really Need?

1. Fill Your Kitchen with Baby-Building Nutrients

Growing a baby requires building blocks -- protein, vitamins, and minerals. Here's your chance to fill your kitchen with food that provides those essential nutrients. Bring home fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables; lowfat dairy products; whole grain breads, cereals, rice and pasta; nut butters, lean meats, eggs that are enhanced with DHA; and healthy oils.

2. Toss Out the Old Stuff

Your body's busy growing a little person and your immune system is weaker during pregnancy. Fending off disease-causing bugs found in your food begins with tossing out the old stuff. Raw ground meat can be safely refrigerated one to two days and other raw meats last three to five days. Check out this list of storage times for foods and throw away the foods that might not be safe to eat.

3. Practice Kitchen and Food Safety

Some food and nutrient items deserve special consideration during pregnancy because they can affect the health of you and your baby. Start by keeping cutting boards, utensils and counters clean. Use one cutting board for meats and another for fresh fruit and vegetables. Cook foods to the appropriate temperatures and store them safely.

4. Use Healthy Ingredients

Modify your favorite recipes by swapping out a "not-so-good-for-you" ingredient for something with less calories or more nutrients. For example, use half whole wheat flour instead of all white flour or replace the sour cream with Greek yogurt. Then cook the food properly to maintain those nutrients. Try grilling, broiling, braising, baking, poaching, sautéing or steaming. Did you notice that frying is not one of the healthy cooking techniques listed?

5. Avoid Certain Foods

We've shifted the focus in this section to food items you shouldn't eat during pregnancy. Certain foods either put you at higher risk for food-borne illness, could contain contaminants harmful to your baby, or might trigger pre-term labor. We suggest you skip these while you've got a bun-in-the-oven.

• To prevent illness: Avoid raw or undercooked meat, soft cheese made from unpasteurized milk, raw honey, raw eggs, unpasteurized juice, raw sprouts.
• Can be harmful to your baby: Alcohol, certain types of fish
• Can cause uterine contractions: Agave nectar

6. Use MyPlate to Plan Your Meal

Your ideal meal focuses on vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean meats. MyPlate, a guide to healthy eating for our generation, helps you visualize how a well-filled plate should look. It's a new and improved version of the food pyramid.

7. Sensible Snacking

According to Tara Gidus, the author of "Pregnancy cooking & Nutrition for Dummies," snacks are a must-have during pregnancy. They're the "little bridges that help carry you over from one meal to the next, leaving you with the energy you need to get through the day and keeping you in a good mood." These guidelines can help you select smart snacks:

  • Eat something with nutritional value
  • Combine a high-fiber food (like whole grains or an apple) with a protein (like peanut butter, cheese or nuts) food
  • Avoid foods high in sugar or refined carbohydrates that can lead to a major energy crash
  • Stay away from high-fat foods that might be difficult to digest
  • Keep your nibbling snack-sized

You can find more ideas in our "On-the-Go Snack Ideas" article.

8. Eat a Little or a Lot

You've probably heard this tip so often that it's becoming a source of nausea. It's worth repeating. Eat small meals and snacks, consumed close together to keep your blood sugar levels normal and minimize morning sickness. Eating food before you hit the starvation point will help ease sickness as well.

9. Make Good Choices When Dining Out

Restaurants like you to love their food so much you come again. But what tends to make many restaurant dishes so yummy is that the dishes are loaded with fat, salt and sugar. Learning to decipher the menu leads to healthier choices. Food labeled with these descriptions are on the "good" list during pregnancy: Baked, broiled, grilled, lean, poached, roasted and steamed.

10. Remember Your Water Bottle

Fluid moves nutrients to your cells and waste away from them, keeps your body at the proper temperature and moves fiber through your digestive system. Cynthia Flynn, General Director of the Family Health and Birth Center in Washington, D.C. says moms-to-be need at least 100 ounces a fluid a day. Sources include water, your food, tea, coffee, sparkling water, juice and milk. A hydrated pregnant body is a happy pregnant body!

What's on your top ten list?

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