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Pregnancy Food Guide: What to Eat and What Not to Eat

written by: Shuchi Kalra • edited by: Lisa Lambson • updated: 3/12/2009

Expectant mothers are often confused regarding food, health, and the dos and don'ts of diet. To make things easier, we have a quick guide that will help you take good care of yourself and your baby by eating healthy and safe.

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    Why is Eating Healthy So Important?

    Eating healthy during your pregnancy is probably the best thing you can do for you and your baby in the long run. While the volley of suggestions from friends, families, neighbors and colleagues can be overwhelming at times, it is important for a pregnant woman to know her and her baby’s nutritional requirements. Having to feed two living beings does not necessarily mean eating double the quantity of food at mealtimes – it simply means understanding the changes that your body is going through and providing enough nutrients to help it through.

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    A Balanced Diet

    The diet chart for a pregnant woman must be balanced in carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. Contrary to common belief, a pregnant woman needs only 300 extra calories a day as compared to her usual intake (underweight women may need a bit more). It is infact the QUALITY rather than the QUANTITY of the food that matters most. It is important to gain essential vitamins and minerals through the diet or via supplements. Include a wide variety of food items in your diet for balanced nutrition and yes, this is not the time to count calories and go on a diet.

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    Essential Vitamins and Minerals

    To keep anemia and weakness at bay, spike up your iron intake by gorging on red meat, green leafy veggies, salmon, eggs, tofu, dried fruits and whole grains. Vitamin C intake boosts up the absorption of iron by the body.

    During pregnancy, your body needs more folic acid than it did before- include leafy greens, whole grain breads, nuts and raw fruits, beans, peas, liver and lentils in your diet.

    Calcium is perhaps the most important but underrated nutrient during pregnancy. Adding some extra calcium to the diet during pregnancy helps prevent osteoporosis. Dairy products, almonds, green vegetable like broccoli and kale, tofu and fortified juices are good sources of calcium.

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    Fluids and Fiber

    Most women are prone to constipation during pregnancy. Taking adequate fluids and fibrous foods like whole grains, several servings of fresh fruits and vegetables can help regularize bowel movements.

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    What You Should Not Be Eating

    · Completely avoid stimulants like alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and recreational drugs.

    · Limit your Vitamin A intake to the prescribed limit unless advised by your doctor.

    · Avoid unpasteurized milk products, raw eggs and uncooked/partially cooked meat as these may expose you to the risk of contacting toxoplasmosis or listeriosis.

    · Limit your consumption of certain sea-food like shellfish, shark and tuna as these may contain dangerous amounts of mercury.

    · Go easy on salt, sugar and excessive spices.

    · Avoid rich, oily food as it can cause indigestion and gastric discomfort. Eat small portions several times a day to maintain your energy levels.

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