Eating for Two?
by Dr. Avelino Garcia
(As seen in the Odessa American “Medical Matters”.)
Good nutrition is vital for a healthy pregnancy. Between fatigue and pregnancy cravings, it can seem difficult to keep healthy eating habits. Planning healthy meals and staying physically active can help.
Eating five or six small meals daily, rather than three large meals, can help with nausea and can also help pregnant women get extra vitamins and minerals needed for growing babies. Each day, eat foods from the major food groups, keeping fats and sugars in moderation. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins are encouraged. Be sure that red meats are fully cooked, not rare, as this can cause illness in a pregnant woman. Fish and seafood are good sources of protein, but stay away from seafood with high mercury content such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish. Limit white (albacore) tuna to six ounces weekly.
Hydration is also a key part of proper nutrition. Pregnant women are encouraged to drink at least two liters of water daily. Symptoms of dehydration in pregnancy include thirst, headache and uterine cramping. Sugary and caffeinated drinks increase risk for dehydration, so they are to be avoided.
Staying physically active is one of the healthiest things an expectant mom can do for her unborn baby. Thirty minutes of low intensity exercise, like walking, is encouraged. Unless an expectant mother has a high-risk pregnancy, exercise can help regulate blood sugar levels, keep blood pressure in the normal range and minimize abnormal weight gain.
The United States Department of Agriculture has made meal planning easier by creating www.choosemyplate.gov. The website assists everyone, including pregnant women, figure out how to make healthy choices with each meal. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on Nutrition During Pregnancy”, the MyPlate website gives “personalized nutrition and physical activity plans by using the ‘Super Tracker’ program. This program is based on five food groups and shows the exact amounts needed each day from each group during each trimester of pregnancy.”
ChooseMyPlate.gov provides practical information to individuals, health professionals, nutrition educators, and the food industry to help consumers build healthier diets with resources and tools for dietary assessment, nutrition education, and other user-friendly nutrition information.