Eating 4 Two /
Healthy Nutrition Strategies /
Your food questions answered
Now it’s more important than ever to be mindful of your nutrition.
If you’re considering getting pregnant – or are pregnant – you should know that what you eat really matters when it comes to the health of you, your pregnancy and your baby. Perhaps one of these top three leading questions about nutrition in pregnancy has likely crossed your mind:
Q:I’ve just found out I’m pregnant but worry that I’m a little overweight already. Is it okay to diet or just skip a meal now and then?
A:In the best of cases, you should eat well before you get pregnant because how you are eating can affect your baby’s short-term and long-term health. Whether you have struggled with an eating disorder, or have diabetes, has consequences and nutritionally-related risks for you and your baby.
Now that you’re pregnant, begin to do the basics of healthy eating today. Start with 3 meals a day, with breakfast the most essential. Don’t skip meals. Eat balanced meals of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and proteins such as meat, fish, eggs, dried peas or beans. This is no time to skip meals but you can skip the soft drinks, chips, candy and cookies, and fast foods. Eating high-fat, high-sugar and nutrient-poor snacks leads to nutritional deficiencies.
Q: I’ve heard that in pregnancy I’m more prone to having anemia – is that true?
A: Pregnancy places great nutritional demands on your body, including having adequate calcium and iron supplies, which are important for bone and red blood cell development. Take a prenatal vitamin each day that includes at least 400 micrograms of folic acid, which helps prevent neural tube defects. Most women need around 18 milligrams of iron each day; during pregnancy you need 27 milligrams per day.
According to the March of Dimes, as many as half of all pregnant women may be at risk for anemia. Anemia occurs when a woman doesn’t have enough – or big enough – red blood cells, which carry oxygen from your lungs to all of the parts of your body. In pregnancy, your red blood cells have to transport oxygen for both you and your baby. Most providers routinely screen for anemia during pregnancy, usually at the first prenatal visit and near the end of the second trimester.
Q: What substances put my pregnancy most at risk? I’ve heard it’s okay to have the occasional glass of wine, yes?
A: Experts know that there is no safe level of alcohol or tobacco in pregnancy. Using these substances is also linked to negative changes in your diet – such as eating junk foods versus wholesome foods when your willpower is diminished by the effects of alcohol. Alcohol and drugs like nicotine, and illegal drugs, are linked to many developmental issues and fetal death; if you can’t quit, cut back as much as possible. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider; she won’t judge you, she’ll help you find the strength and tools to make the best possible choices for you and your baby now and going forward after birth.
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