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What to Eat While Pregnant

What you eat right before and during your pregnancy can affect the health of your growing baby. Even before you start trying to get pregnant, you should take special care of your health. Eat healthy meals and snacks and take a multivitamin every day. If you're unsure about eating healthy during pregnancy, talk to your doctor.

Do I really need to "eat for two?"

While you are pregnant, you will need additional nutrients to keep you and your baby healthy. But, that does not mean you need to eat twice as much. You should only eat an extra 300 calories per day. A baked potato has 120 calories. So getting these extra 300 calories doesn't take a lot of food.

Make sure not to restrict your diet during pregnancy either. If you do, your unborn baby might not get the right amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Low-calorie diets can break down a pregnant woman's stored fat. This can lead to the production of substances called ketones. Ketones can be found in the mother's blood and urine and are a sign of starvation. Constant production of ketones can result in a mentally retarded child.

How should my diet change now that I'm pregnant?

If you are eating a healthy diet before you become pregnant, you may only need to make a few changes to meet the special nutritional needs of pregnancy. According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), a pregnant woman needs only 300 calories a day more than she did pre-pregnancy. The ADA recommends that pregnant women eat a total of 2,500 to 2,700 calories every day. These calories should come from a variety of healthy foods.

But what pregnant women eat is more important than how much. A pregnant woman needs more of many important vitamins, minerals and nutrients than she did pre-pregnancy. To get enough nutrients, pregnant women should take a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin and eat healthy foods from the four basic food groups everyday including:

Fruits and Vegetables — Pregnant women should try to eat 7 or more servings of fruits and vegetables combined (for example: 3 servings of fruit and 4 of vegetables) daily.

Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables with vitamin C help you and your baby to have healthy gums and other tissues. Vitamin C also helps your body to heal wounds and to absorb iron. Examples of fruits and vegetables with vitamin C include strawberries, melons, oranges, papaya, tomatoes, peppers, greens, cabbage, and broccoli. Fruits and vegetables also add fiber and minerals to your diet and give you energy. Plus, dark green vegetables have vitamin A, iron, and folate, which are important nutrients during pregnancy.

One Serving Fruit = 1 medium apple, 1 medium banana, 1/2 cup of chopped fruit, 3/4 cup of fruit juice One Serving Vegetable = 1 cup raw leafy vegetables, 1/2 cup of other vegetables (raw or cooked), 3/4 cup vegetable juice

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