Getting Control over Your Diet
Remember the food pyramid? It's a great place to start! By eating more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and lean protein, and sparingly consuming fatty and sugary foods, you'll take the first steps on your way to good health. Ideally, you'll have four servings of vegetables per day and three servings of fruits.
Remember that variety is important when eating healthy as it ensures that you get many different vitamins and minerals every day. It also helps prevent you from becoming bored with your new eating habits. You should eat fresh fruits and vegetables whenever possible. The closer they are from where they came (be the vine or the ground), the better they are for you. Grazing, or eating smaller, more frequent meals, can help you achieve the variety you need in healthy amounts. This can also help balance out blood sugar problems.
Protein is the building block of every cell in your body and the body of your baby-to-be. Remember that the prenatal period up through your baby's first birthday is the period of most rapid growth for babies' brains. It's important to get plenty of protein to aid in this development.
Pregnant women should get at least 75 grams of protein a day. It can help prevent illness during pregnancy like eclampsia or toxemia. You will require more protein if you are expecting twins, if you are younger, and in some other specific situations, all of which your doctor will advise you.
Don't worry if you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet; there are many plant-based protein sources that you can choose from. Eggs, egg whites, and reduced fat dairy products are great options for the vegetarian, while soy products, beans, and nuts/nut butters are appropriate for everyone. Don't forget whole grains, either: Quinoa and Israeli couscous have five or six grams of protein per serving.
A printout of the food pyramid is a great tool to keep on your refrigerator for reference. Keeping a copy handy and even using it as a checklist can help keep you on track as you master this new style of healthy eating. You can find it online at
Eating a healthy diet doesn't mean you have to completely give up fast food or chocolate cake. It simply means that you base your nutritional standards on foods that help grow a healthy baby. Anything that falls outside of this standard should be consumed only occasionally in addition to your regular foods. Having dessert or splurging on a greasy pizza once in a while isn't going to hurt your chances of having a healthy baby.
If you have special dietary needs, consider seeing a dietician. This is particularly great for you if you suffer from an eating disorder, diabetes, anemia (low iron), or other nutritional problems. Your doctor or midwife should be able to make a referral.
Plenty of Water
Water, water, everywhere! Now is the ideal time to get into the water habit. You need to consume at least six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. Not only will this help rid your body of toxins, but it will also help keep you well hydrated. During pregnancy, staying well hydrated can make your skin more elastic and healthy, help with the prevention of stretch marks, and help decrease your risk of preterm labor.
Try drinking water throughout the day. Keep in mind that if you're thirsty, you've waited too long to drink! Your cells and tissues are already depleted of water before your body registers thirst. Drinking water regularly will help keep your body balanced.
Prenatal vitamins can be very important to ensuring you get the vitamins and minerals you need. Vitamins are not meant to replace the foods you eat. Rather, they should complement the food you eat. Your prenatal vitamins should be taken as directed by your practitioner.
Folate, or folic acid, is an absolute necessity for women who are trying to conceive. Taking folic acid prior to pregnancy has recently been shown to be much more beneficial than starting once a pregnancy has occurred. You need 400 micrograms of folic acid every day when trying to conceive, and 600 micrograms each day once you are pregnant; this will help prevent neural tube defects, like spina bifida and anencephaly. It is readily found in vitamins sold over-the-counter or by prescription. It is also found in some fortified foods like cereals and grains.
Not all vitamins are created equally. It is possible for you to get too much of certain vitamins, such as vitamin A, which can cause birth defects if taken in large quantities. Be sure to show any vitamin supplement to your practitioner prior to taking it during pregnancy.