First things first: if you are pregnant, you must gain weight to keep you and your baby healthy. Remember, you are growing a human being. This means more food which means more calories which means weight gain. But this certainly doesn’t mean that you can eat whatever you want whenever you want. According to the American Dietetic Association, a pregnant woman only needs to increase her caloric intake by 300 calories. Dang, no more using the excuse, “I’m eating for two.”
And what a pregnant woman eats is much more important than how much. There is no special food designed specifically for pregnant women, but you do need more vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that you did before you were pregnant. To make sure you are getting enough nutrients, talk to your doctor about a multivitamin to take in addition to the other healthy foods you are eating. Here is a quick run-down of the amounts of food that is recommended:
Fruits and Vegetables — Pregnant women should try to eat 7 or more servings of fruits and vegetables combined (for example: 3 servings of fruit and 4 of vegetables) daily.
Fruits and vegetables with vitamin C help you and your baby to have healthy gums and other tissues. Vitamin C also helps your body to heal wounds and to absorb iron. Examples of fruits and vegetables with vitamin C include strawberries, melons, oranges, papaya, tomatoes, peppers, greens, cabbage, and broccoli. Fruits and vegetables also add fiber and minerals to your diet and give you energy.
Whole-grains or Enriched Breads/Cereals — Pregnant women should eat 6 to 9 servings of whole-grain or enriched breads and/or cereals every day.
Whole-grain products and enriched products like bread, rice, pasta, and breakfast cereals contain iron, B vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Some breakfast cereals are enriched with 100% of the folic acid your body needs every day. Folic acid has been shown to help prevent some serious birth defects. Eating breakfast cereals and other enriched grain products that contain folic acid is important before and during pregnancy.
Dairy Products — Pregnant women should try to eat 4 or more servings of low-fat or non-fat milk, yogurt, cheese or other dairy products every day.
Dairy products provide the calcium you and your baby need for strong bones and teeth. Dairy products are also great sources of vitamin A and D, protein, and B vitamins. Vitamin A helps growth, fight infection, and vision.
Try to eat low-fat or non-fat milk and milk products to lower your fat intake. Other sources of calcium include dark green leafy vegetables, dried beans and peas, nuts and seeds, and tofu. If you are lactose intolerant or can’t digest dairy products, you can still get enough calcium. There are several low-lactose or reduced-lactose products available. In some cases, your doctor might recommend a calcium supplement.
Proteins — Pregnant women and their growing babies need 10 grams of protein more than non-pregnant women. Pregnant women should eat 60 grams of protein every day.
Two or more 2-3 ounce servings of cooked lean meat, fish, or poultry without skin, or two or more 1 ounce servings of cooked meat contain about 60 grams of protein. Eggs, nuts, dried beans, and peas also are good sources of protein. But don’t rush out and buy high protein drinks! Women in the United States regularly eat more protein than they need. So you probably won’t have to make an effort to eat the needed 60 grams of protein a day. Protein builds muscle, tissue, enzymes, hormones, and antibodies for you and your baby. Protein-rich foods also have B vitamins and iron important for your blood.