What are the best nutrition tips you have for a healthy pregnancy?

A healthy diet is so important to the growth and development of the baby. I encourage women hoping to become pregnant to begin to make diet changes to ensure they are consuming a healthy variety of nutrients. For those hoping to become pregnant, it is important that you take a good look at your current diet. Identify areas that you may be able to improve (i.e. reduce consumption of sugar-filled beverages, limit snacking on heavily processed foods and excessive sweets). Try to bump up your intake of fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water. Begin taking prenatal vitamins.

Once you become pregnant, determine out how many servings from each of the major food groups you are consuming and see if you are deficient in any areas. For example, in your first trimester you should be consuming about 6 ounce of whole grains, while in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters you should consume around 8 ounces/day. One ounce = one slice of bread, ½ cup pasta. Try to make at least half of the grams you consume whole grains! Choose whole wheat pasta instead of white and incorporate quinoa/faro instead of rice. Throughout your pregnancy aim for ~3 cups of low fat dairy. Add a glass of milk at dinner, have 8 ounces of yogurt for breakfast and snack on 1.5 ounces of cheese. Now focus on getting plenty of fruits and vegetables. Green leafy vegetables are especially important because they contain healthy vitamins and minerals that are pivotal in the growth and development of the fetus. Aim for 2 cups a day for fruit and ~3 cups a day of vegetables. Many of my patients tell me that they know they are deficient in this area so get creative! Start to sneak vegetables into dishes (pureeing cauliflower with mashed potatoes, add zucchini/squash to spaghetti sauce and shred carrots into soup) and add fruit to smoothies. Protein is another nutrient that is very important during pregnancy. I would encourage you aim for ~5.5 ounces in your first trimester and 6.5 ounces in your 2nd and 3rd trimester (one ounce of meat, ½ ounce nuts, 1 Tbsp peanut butter).

It is important to be aware of foods to limit or avoid. I recommend women to limit (excessive) caffeine and alcohol. Avoid raw or undercooked meats, eggs, poultry and fish. Limit fish high in mercury (shark, swordfish, King mackerel, Tilefish) and use safe food handling techniques (like frequent hand washing). Avoid using the same knife when cutting chicken and then vegetables (cross contamination). Make sure you cook foods to recommended temperatures to reduce chance of food borne illness. Finally, I would limit or avoid herbal remedies or supplements unless you discuss them with your doctor first. Best of luck to you!

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