Heading into motherhood as a healthy individual is an important part of preparing for a little one. Unfortunately, health is not something that can simply be added to a to-do list and checked off; it is something that must be worked on over time. Therefore, it's a good idea to get started right away.
Pregnancy is a difficult time to begin the journey to a healthy lifestyle, especially when it comes to changing your diet. This is because there are several dietary restrictions to consider. However, by using some common sense, talking with your care provider, and paying careful attention to what you put into your body, you will get into the healthy eating habit in no time.
Are you unsure about what you should and should not eat during your pregnancy? Check out the list below for a start.
— Foods to Avoid —
Certain Kinds of Fish — While fish is an important part of any balanced diet, and is even more important for expectant mothers due to the omega-3s it provides, there are some kinds of fish that should be avoided during pregnancy. These include kingfish, swordfish, mackerel, and shark, due to the large amounts of mercury found in these types of water creatures.
Fish that are known to carry large amounts of PCBs or DDT should also be avoided, as well as raw or undercooked fish—such as those found in sushi—which could contain parasitic worms.
Undercooked Meats — Due to the threat of food-borne illness, all meats should be cooked until well done. This includes meats such as steak and hamburgers, which might otherwise be eaten a bit pink.
Unpasteurized Juices and Dairy Products — Also considered a potential carrier of food-borne illness, unpasteurized dairy products should be avoided during pregnancy. This applies to all sorts of dairy products, but especially soft cheeses and milk and juice for drinking. While most dairy products and juices found in stores are pasteurized, it is a good idea to check all labels before buying.
Raw or Undercooked Eggs — Unfortunately, eggs are notorious for carrying salmonella, a sickness that nobody wants to get, especially expectant mothers. Thankfully, salmonella can be avoided by ensuring eggs are fully cooked before they are consumed.
You'd be surprised to learn just how many food products contain raw egg, so this is one you'll want to look out for. Some things you will definitely want to steer clear of are egg nog, salad dressings, mayonnaise, tiramisu, and homemade ice cream.
Excessive Amounts of Caffeine — We all know that caffeine isn't exactly good for us. Knowing this, you can probably guess that it's definitely not good for a developing fetus. Since caffeine can cross the placenta, this is one thing you will most certainly want to cut back on. Trying to keep it to one cup of coffee or caffeinated tea a day would probably be best.
Some Fruits and Vegetables — It might seem crazy that something as healthful as a fruit or vegetable would be off-limits during pregnancy, but there are a few you will want to be wary of.
Raw vegetable sprouts are packed full of amazing nutrients. That said, they have the potential to carry harmful bacteria. Therefore, these tasty and nutritious sprouts should be cooked before they are eaten by a pregnant person.
Papaya is a wonderful fruit that offers a lot of great vitamins. However, if the fruit is eaten before it is fully ripe, it can cause pre-term contractions and labor due to the pepsin it contains. To avoid this problem, eat only fully ripened papaya, or skip the fruit altogether and opt for another type of nutritious fruit.
Pineapple is a delicious way to get some vitamin C. While it can be eaten during pregnancy, it's generally a good idea to eat only small amounts of it. Large amounts of pineapple are believed to soften the cervix and could ultimately lead to pre-term labor.
Processed foods — Since your body is making a whole person pretty much from food, it would be best to avoid high amounts of sugar and processed foods. This would be anything that is bleached or comes in a box. These kinds of food convert to sugar quickly rather than nutrients, which will make you feel heavy and tired and it isn't what your body needs to grow a healthy baby.
— Foods to Eat —
Fish — Fish are absolutely full of essential nutrients. Most importantly, fish are full of omega-3 nutrients, which are linked to proper fetal brain development. Therefore, it is important to continue eating fish throughout pregnancy. This can be done safely by avoiding the types of fish listed above and using good sense when it comes to preparation of the fish.
Fruits and Vegetables — You probably already know that fruits and vegetables are an important part of a balanced diet. This is even more true for a mom-to-be who is eating for two. While a prenatal vitamin will help fill in any gaps in your diet, it does not replace the vitamins found naturally in fruits and vegetables.
Plenty of Lean Protein — Pregnant women are encouraged to get between 60 and 80 grams of protein a day. At times, this can seem impossible. However, by adding plenty of lean protein snacks into your diet, you'll be on the road to a high-protein diet in no time. These snacks could include grilled chicken breasts, nuts, and fully cooked eggs.
Oatmeal — Eating oatmeal—or oats in other types of dishes—is a great way to ensure you are getting enough folic acid and iron. It is also an excellent way to up your protein intake. If those aren't good enough reasons to replace your typical breakfast with a bowl of hot cereal, consider the fact that many pregnant women feel that oats help increase their milk supply.
Water — Water is essential to life. Becoming dehydrated during pregnancy is incredibly dangerous, and something you will want to avoid at all costs. Staying hydrated throughout your third trimester will help keep you energized, alert, and can even help ensure you have a nice milk supply when baby comes.
By following these dietary suggestions and chatting with your healthcare provider about any food choices you are unsure about, we are certain you can find the perfect set of food choices to ensure your first steps into motherhood are healthy ones.