The age-old phrase “you are what you eat” may not have an impact on how you feel about yourself, but when you realize your baby will be built by what you munch on, it becomes easier to adjust your daily diet. It’s time to put away the candy bars and say bye-bye to the crash diets and food fads from your past; you’ll need a little less sugar and a few more carbs to make a healthy baby.
1. One cookie or scoop of low-fat ice cream will make your body and your baby smile—and it will fulfill your daily serving from the fats, oils and sweets group.
2. The milk, cheese and yogurt group is exceptionally important because calcium means healthy teeth and bones for you and your baby. Drink a glass of skim, 1% or fortified soy milk daily, and indulge in fat-free yogurt often. [tip:] To get extra calcium, try making your oatmeal with milk instead of water.
3. The meat and bean (otherwise known as protein) group is full of goodies for your growing baby. Protein helps form those oh-so-important muscles and tissues. Try adding lean beef, skinless chicken (fried doesn’t count!), pinto beans, chickpeas, almonds and peanut butter to your diet. And note that avoiding fish and eggs altogether is completely unnecessary; in fact, eating a little of both is highly recommended. Cook your eggs all the way through, and try eating yellowfin tuna—it’s low in mercury and high in omega-3s, which can help the development of the nervous system and prevent preterm labor.
4. The fruit and veggie groups have never been so important, so make sure you eat a wide variety, or “rainbow,” of foods at least four times daily. Although all fruits and veggies are spectacular, asparagus, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, apples, bananas and mangos have good reputations for providing mom with much-needed protein, fiber, iron and vitamins C and A, which fight infections and aid in developing baby’s eyes.
Fruits and veggies also contain folic acid, an important nutrient that helps construct your baby’s organs and tissues and reduce the risk of spinal birth defects. Steer clear of sugary fruit juices and be sure to eat the occasional avocado, because along with all of its other nutritional benefits, it contains vitamin B2, which helps form red blood cells for mom and baby. It takes about 40 different nutrients to mentally and physically sustain your growing fetus. Folic acid, iron and calcium are especially crucial to your baby’s development. So, in addition to taking the appropriate supplements, it’s important that your meals are full of vitamin- and mineral-enriched foods.
Not sure where to start? We’re here to help. But first, think about portions. Although you feel like you should (and could) be eating for two, it’s important to keep your mind in check and your body in control. Unless you’re expecting multiples, your caloric intake shouldn’t increase substantially the first two trimesters, and weight gain should be gradual until the last three months. Even though this sounds harsh, take a look at what you need to be consuming—we can pretty much guarantee you won’t hear your tummy rumbling any time soon.
5. Rice, pasta and fortified cereals are just a few of the items that make up the bread group. Whole grains are important for providing your body with carbohydrates and B vitamins, which give you the energy to function and build a strong little person inside of you. Make sure you opt for whole grains as opposed to refined or enriched breads, and try whole wheat bagels and brown rice.
An added bonus? All that extra fiber will help ease any problems with hemorrhoids and constipation.
What not to eat
- Soft cheeses such as feta and brie(these have a higher likelihood of bacterial contamination)
- High mercury fishes like shark, swordfish and mackerel
- Unpasteurized milk and juice
- Raw or undercooked meatslike rare steaks and sushi
- Highly saturated fats, like those you find in fried foods