Eating for Two, Eating Well

Moms are our first nutritionists, and that job begins in uterus. Many moms eat for two but forget that their baby’s health depends upon the quality of food they consume, not just the quantity. Here are a few recommendations to help provide the best nutrition for mom and the unborn baby.

Beyond healthy, well balanced diet, there are three nutrients especially important for the growth and development of the baby:

Calcium: make sure you are consuming sufficient quantities of calcium in the form of calcium rich food. Some examples are dairy products and any preparation made with dairy product, tofu, calcium fortified rice and soy milk, canned fish with bones like sardines and salmon, almonds, broccoli and dark green leafy vegetables like bok choy, spinach and collard greens. Yum!

Iron: Iron is critical. It can be found in beef, chicken, turkey, oysters (cooked), tofu, beans and all legumes, spinach, iron fortified cereals, raisins and dried fruits. Fish is also an excellent source of iron. Just remember to never eat shark, king mackerel, swordfish and tilefish during pregnancy due to high level of mercury. Look for chunk light tuna packed in water in place of albacore tuna, and limit fish to 8-12 ounces per week.

To increase your body’s ability to absorb iron at every meal, remember to eat or drink foods high in Vitamin C for dessert or as a side dish: oranges, strawberries, pineapple, mango, kiwi, broccoli, tomatoes or to drink a small glass of 100% fortified juice.

Folate: Folate is important and comes in many delicious options. These include dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, beans, peas and lentils, fortified breakfast cereals, oranges and orange juice, peanuts, almonds and asparagus.

Despite our best efforts, we cannot always eat the number of servings of foods recommended by the Daily Food Guide. It is important to take a daily prenatal vitamin to complete your needs. Look for one with 400 mcg of folate. And always take your prenatal vitamin right after a meal. If nausea is a concern, especially during the first trimester, try to take it with your last meal of the day.

Let’s not forget about fluids! They are more important during pregnancy than ever before. Pregnant women gain around 10 pounds in body fluids. Drink water, juice, low fat milk, popsicles, soups and caffeine free drinks during pregnancy. Try to have 8-12 glasses of 8 ounces of fluid each a day. If you do have caffeine, limit to 1 cup (8 oz) a day.

Fluids are also important to prevent constipation, one of the common complaints during pregnancy. If nausea and vomit occur during the early months of pregnancy, drink small amounts of fluids through the day to avoid dehydration. If you are unable to hold down fluids due to severe vomit, call your doctor immediately.

Finally, a word about food safety. Your unborn baby is very sensitive to the effect of bacteria or contaminants found in food. It is important to wash and prepare food to as to prevent contamination. For detailed information, please visit www.foodsafety.gov.

Being pregnant is one of the best times of our lives to make permanent improvements in eating habits and lifestyle choices. We become motivated to reach for the bottle of water instead of the caffeinated, high sucrose 20 oz bottle of soda. We make it a point to actually eat fruits and vegetables of all colors, every day. Variety is the key to a well balanced diet and you can find plenty of excellent ideas at www.mypyramid.gov, in the “Pregnant & Breastfeeding” section. Take advantage of the motivation that comes with pregnancy!

Lizette Franks is the nutritionist at Vista Community Clinic. For more information visit call 760-631-5000.