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Pregnancy Nutrition: 5 Simple Ways to Change Your Diet

by Jenn

Health Pregnancy EatingMorning sickness and intense cravings can make it difficult to eat a well-balanced diet during the first few months of pregnancy. Doctors tell you to snack on veggies, protein sources and grains when all you want to reach for are a bag of chips and chocolate. Whether you’re tracking your ovulation schedule, in the middle of the two-week wait, or just found out your pregnant, update your diet in these five simple ways:

Avoid Alcohol

Most doctors will recommend that you start changing your diet and eating lifestyles at least three months before trying to get pregnant. This includes cutting out any drinking, smoking, or drug intake cold turkey. And although it’s been said that a small glass or two of wine can a week be fine for some mothers while pregnant, there really is no known safe amount of alcohol a woman can consume while pregnant, states Jacques Moritz, MD, director of gynecology at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York. Some women have higher levels of the enzymes that break down alcohol, making it difficult to predict the impact of drinking on a pregnancy. If you have liver disease, a history of addiction or are on any medications that may conflict with alcohol, you definitely shouldn’t drink while pregnant. It might even be best to just avoid it all together. Remember that alcohol can slow down your baby’s growth, affect his or her brain, cause heart problems and birth defects, according to WomensHealth.gov. According to FirstResponse.com, the first few weeks of pregnancy are critical to fetal development. The earlier you adjust your diet, the better it’ll be for your and your baby’s overall health and weight.

Cut Back on Caffeine

While you don’t need to give up coffee and caffeine entirely, consider cutting back before and during your pregnancy. Only moderate amounts appear to be safe during pregnancy, while higher amounts have been linked to miscarriage and preterm birth, according to WomensHealth.gov. Stick to less than 200 mg a day — typically the amount of a 12-ounce cup of coffee. Talk to your doctor about the amount of caffeine that’s right for you.

Swap Sweets for Fruits

Instead of choosing a sugary snack or indulging in your favorite sugar-filled cereal, try enjoying an apple or a bowl of strawberries. The natural sweeteners will satisfy your sweet tooth and give you the health benefits you need. Fruits contain many vitamins and minerals that are essential for your growing baby and properly nourishing your body. According to Web MD, pregnant women should have up to 70 mg of Vitamin C each day. Even if you’re not pregnant yet, get in the habit. Take your pick from tomatoes, cauliflower, oranges, honeydew, papaya, strawberries, grapefruit or broccoli.

Load Up on Leafy Greens

Greens like kale and spinach are great sources of folate, a key B vitamin that helps prevent neural tube defects. These defects, including spina bifida, occur during the earliest stages of fetal development, or in other words, the first three to four weeks of pregnancy. Because of that, many doctors suggest you start taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid as soon as you start trying to conceive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourage all women to take 400 micrograms every day. That number can increase to 600 mcg during months four to nine of pregnancy and to 500 mcg while breast feeding. Folic acid aids our body in making new cells, including hair, skin and nails.

Make Sure It’s Pasteurized

Pregnant woman should only enjoy dairy products and drinks that have gone through the pasteurization process. According to the Mayo Clinic, non-pasteurized products make a pregnant woman more apt to contract a food borne illness, which can be detrimental to the baby’s health. During pregnancy, avoid brie, feta, Camembert, blue and soft Mexican cheeses. Note that some juices are not pasteurized, including many types of apple cider.

Meredith is a flutist and writer from Tucson, Arizona

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3 comments

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Becky Schollian June 25, 2013 - 12:43 pm
These are all wonderful & healthy tips. Take it from me they do work!! My daughter just gave birth to baby Novalee 6/5. She had a developed Gull Stones & was in constant pain. We used these exact eating tips for her and it was a big relief!! thanks for sharing Jenn!!
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laurie damrose June 26, 2013 - 8:39 am
These are all great and very important tips for a happy and healthy pregnancy.
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Valarie Lee Gentry June 26, 2013 - 1:25 pm
Eating healthy when pregnant is super important but I remember all I wanted to eat was cheese fries with ranch and anything fried! It's important not to drink when pregnant. Some people say it's ok to have a glass of wine now and then but I avoided alcohol all together as well as caffeine.
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