When my wife was pregnant, I don’t remember her having any particular cravings. There was an occasional ice cream binge — but that wasn’t much of a surprise as she indulged in ice cream even before she was pregnant. I was more nervous than she was, so I probably ate more than my wife did anyway. There’s a misconception that during pregnancy, a woman can eat whatever she wants and that there is no need to follow a healthy diet. That sounds like my mother-in-law talking. That kind of thinking may have worked at the turn-of-the-century, but these days its more important than ever to have a special pregnancy food plan. This is not the type of diet women usually use to lose weight. Instead this is a food plan that ensures your baby is getting the right nutrients and minerals.
According to Blueribbonbaby.org, over forty years of medical research has proved that bad diets during pregnancy cause: stillborn babies, low birth weight or premature babies, brain damaged babies with less intelligence, hyperactive babies with more irritability and infection-prone babies with more illness.
the unborn child isn’t the only one at risk. Bad diets cause diseases in mothers too:
1. Metabolic Toxemia of Late Pregnancy (MTLP) – a disease caused by not enough good quality proteins and vitamins in the diet.
2. Abruption of the Placenta – a disease in which the placenta (or “afterbirth”) breaks loose inside the mother’s womb, often before labor begins. The mother bleeds, and the baby dies in 50% of the cases.
3. Severe infections of the lungs, kidneys and liver.
4. Miscarriage – if the mother does not have a good diet, the placenta grows imperfectly and cannot meet the needs of the developing baby, and a miscarriage results.
So it goes without saying that a healthy diet can lower the risk of these problems and more. But is it’s so easy to do, why aren’t more women putting two-and-two together and following a strict healthy diet during the term of their pregnancy? It is usually believed that during pregnancy “a woman eats for two” and thus she can easily eat whatever she wants and as much as she wants. But, as a matter of fact, this borders on misinformation. During pregnancy a woman should keep on dieting. But unlike special diet systems oriented on losing weight or keeping great physical shape, a pregnancy food plan has to be focus more on a healthy lifestyle.
According to the American Dietetic Association (www.ada.org), pregnant women need only eat an additional 300 calories more per day more than their daily caloric intake prior to becoming pregnant – meaning that pregnant women should consume a total of between 2,500 and 2,700 calories per day while expecting.
That said, what you eat is actually more important than how much you eat. That’s why it’s so essential to eat a variety of foods that contain an assortment of the daily required nutrients. Since this may be difficult to do through consumption of food alone, it is usually recommended that pregnant women take a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin.
Research has shown (see www.pregnancy.org), that every day of the week during pregnancy, the expecting mother and child must have (at least):
1. One quart (4 cups) of milk. Any kind will do: whole milk, low fat, skim, powdered, or buttermilk. If you do not like milk, you can substitute one cup of yogurt for each cup of milk.
2. Two eggs.
3. One or two servings of fish, shellfish, chicken or turkey, lean beef, veal, lamb, pork, liver or kidney.
Alternative combinations can include:
o Rice with beans, cheese, sesame, milk
o Cornmeal with beans, cheese, tofu, milk.
o Beans with rice, bulgur, cornmeal, wheat noodles sesame seeds, milk.
o Peanuts with: sunflower seeds, milk.
o Whole wheat bread or noodles with: beans, cheese, peanut butter, milk, tofu.
o One or two servings of fresh, green, leafy vegetables: mustard, beet, collard, dandelion or turnip greens, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kale, Swiss chard.
4. Five servings of whole grain breads, rolls, cereals or pancakes: wheatena, 100% bran flakes, granola, shredded wheat, wheat germ, oatmeal, buckwheat or whole wheat pancakes, corn bread, corn tortillas, corn or bran or whole wheat muffins, waffles, brown rice.
5. Two choices from: a whole potato (any style), large green pepper, grapefruit, lemon, lime, papaya, tomato (one piece of fruit, or one large glass of juice).
6. Three pats of butter.
And finally, don’t forget to drink plenty of water — 8 glasses a day to be exact! And if you’re a for coffee lover, you may want to consider giving up that java-fix for the next 9 months, as certain studies have shown that drinking caffeine may pose risks to a growing fetus. I shouldn’t even have to mention alcohol. But I will anyway. No amount of alcohol is safe to drink. Fetal alcohol syndromeis no laughing matter. Certainly you can force yourself to give up a drink — even if it’s a glass of wine – for the duration of your pregnancy.
Now, getting back to the list — this may seem like a lot of food, but if you pay attention the diet shown here isn’t too different from what an individual would or should be eating anyway — if they were following a healthy diet. Also, although there are specific foods listed here, you’ll notice that they fall into the important food-pyramid categories of protein, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables and milk products.
This is a great segue into another important aspect of a healthy diet. Diversity is the keyword here. You don’t want to eat the same food over and over again, and in fact the list above provides choices of foods in each category. There are obviously a lot more than just what is listed. The wider the variety of products you choose from the better results you’ll get. Your doctor can advise you on building your pregnancy food plan and choosing the right foods that will have a positive impact on both you and your child.