Wondering what to eat when pregnant? Many expecting moms are concerned about nutrition for themselves and their babies, and wonder about what is safe, what is best, and what is simply unfounded advice. There are many recommendations about what to eat during pregnancy, and it can be hard to tell whether there are good reasons for avoiding or eating certain foods during pregnancy.
The Mayo Clinic provides a nice list of things you should not eat during pregnancy. These include seafood high in mercury, such as swordfish, shark, and mackerel. You should also avoid raw or undercooked seafood (such as sushi). Similarly, do not eat undercooked meat or eggs. Ensure adequate cooking temperature to avoid bacteria and viruses. Cook processed deli meats until they’re steaming hot – they can be sources of a rare but potentially serious foodborne illness known as listeriosis. It is also recommended to avoid unpasteurized cheeses, such as brie. Skip alcohol and watch your caffeine intake – studies on both of these are somewhat controversial, but generally most experts do not recommend drinking alcohol in any amount, and caffeine should be limited to about one 12 oz cup of coffee per day.
So, if you can’t eat any of those things, perhaps the better question is: what can you eat when pregnant? For starters, while it isn’t really eating, you should be taking a prenatal vitamin every day. Fruits and vegetables, especially high fiber choices, are recommended. Drink water liberally, 8-10 cups a day. There is a separate food pyramid for expecting mothers, with recommendations of food types and servings; this gives a general guideline for what to eat when pregnant. If you are vegetarian, vegan, diabetic, gluten intolerant, or otherwise have limited food choices or absorption, consult a doctor or nutritionist to help you decide what to eat during pregnancy.
When choosing what to eat during pregnancy, it is just as important to ask how much to eat. Generally, you only need a few hundred extra calories per day – and those should be nutrient dense foods. Eating for two does not mean eating twice as much! Balance your cravings with some physical activity, be moderate about your indulgences, and enjoy your pregnancy!
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