Let's face it, there may be no other time in a woman's life when her diet is as important as when she's pregnant.
The best pregnancy diet plan is one that includes foods rich in essential vitamins, minerals, protein and calories, without overdoing it. There are also some foods that a woman should avoid while pregnant.
Here we have my suggestions for the best pregnancy diet plan, but it's important for you to realize the following advice is general in nature. You must check with your physician, dietitian, or other form of health professional, such as a naturopathic doctor, for specific advice and monitoring.
Consuming enough protein is always important, since it serves as the major structural component of all the cells in your body. As such, the best pregnancy diet plan should include protein-rich foods in order to support the growth and development of the fetus, while protecting your own health from the added physical burden.
The following are good sources: white meat, poultry, fish, whey, eggs, and yogurt are all “complete” proteins, because they contain all nine indispensable amino acids, so your pregnancy diet plan should include some of each of these.
But, there are nuances to follow here. For instance, if you are pregnant, you should avoid consuming raw fish (sushi), very rare meats, hot dogs, deli meats or smoked seafood. Any of these foods could be contaminated with listeria bacteria, which can cause a miscarriage or even a still birth.
Quality is important too. See if you can purchase grass-fed meats from your local farmers market, or high end grocery store, as these sources of protein are healthier than typical grain-raised animals.
Fish is our best source of omega-3 fatty acids, but for your pregnancy diet plan, you should limit consumption to no more than two servings per week. Sadly, most fish have varying levels of contaminates such as mercury, which may lead to birth defects and neurological problems later on for your child.
If you are pregnant, you should not eat swordfish, shark, king mackerel, tilefish, albacore tuna or other species that are at the top of the food chain and thus have a higher concentration of mercury. Fish that is “okay” to eat include salmon, tilapia, pollock, and “light” canned tuna.
But the best fish source of omega-3 fatty acids when you are pregnant is to use a purified fish oil supplement, rich in DHA and EPA.
Most good protein sources are also good sources of iron, but for a pregnancy diet plan, most health practitioners still recommend an iron supplement. Liver is the only iron-rich food that should be avoided by pregnant women, because of its high vitamin A content, which can be harmful to the developing fetus.
In order to get the most out of iron-rich foods, you should avoid eating them in conjunction with certain foods that inhibit the absorption of the mineral. Iron inhibitors include spinach, chard, beet greens, rhubarb, sweet potatoes, whole grains, bran and soy. It is not that you should avoid these foods altogether; they are healthy and wholesome. Just consume them during a separate meal, however.
It is not advisable that you rely solely on any pregnancy diet plan to provide enough folate or folic acid to support your increasing blood volume nor to prevent neural tube defects.
A supplement of .4 mg is recommended for the three months preceding and the first three months of pregnancy itself. Some health practitioners suggest that the folic acid supplement should be continued throughout the duration of pregnancy.
Fruits and Vegetables
Four servings each of fruits and vegetables per day is the minimum threshold for your pregnancy diet plan. Since you are “eating for two” and need an extra 100-300 calories per day, consider consuming another apple or take a double serving of broccoli.
If you stick with fruits and vegetables when you have an extra hunger pang or a craving for a snack, you will avoid adding calories derived from fats. Overweight women have more complications during pregnancy. This is not the right time to “lose” weight, but it is the right time to watch what you eat. Your health care practitioner can advise you about how much weight gain is acceptable.
Salmonella poisoning can be devastating during pregnancy. Raw eggs and undercooked poultry are prone to contain salmonella bacteria. Most people would not consider eating raw eggs, but certain sauces do contain them.
You should avoid caesar salad dressing and hollandaise sauce, unless you know that they were not prepared using raw eggs. Homemade ice cream, custard and even mayonnaise may also contain raw eggs and could cause salmonella poisoning.
In the end, you have many food choices that can comprise a healthy pregnancy diet plan. The overall rules to follow are to eat a variety of foods every day, see your health care practitioner regularly, and include a moderate exercise plan.
My name is Dr. Rami El-Hussieny and I am a Naturopathic Doctor who practices in East Lansing and Ann Arbor, MI. Please contact me if you have any questions about my services for improved health and well-being.
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