Why Eating Healthy During Pregnancy Is Important

Foods to eat more of and to avoid during these nine months.

Posted: 06/24/2011 12:58 PM EDT
Filed Under pregnancy

I hear a lot of women (my friends included) say that when you are pregnant, "You are eating for two, eat what you want, don't deny the baby!" And while it is important to make sure your baby is getting the essential nutrients that it needs to develop, let's keep it real: You don't need 2-3 times the calories and vitamins for your baby to grow.

 

What most people don't know is that if you are at a healthy weight, you don't need any extra calories a day in the first trimester. The second trimester you only need 300 extra calories per day and 450 extra a day in your third trimester. Now of course if you are underweight or overweight, your doctor is going to tweak those numbers to help you gain or lose weight.

 

And I understand that your body craves certain things and it's hard to ignore that voice telling you to dip your McDonalds fries into a whole tub of Häagen-Dazs, but sometimes you are gonna have to. Because gaining too much weight during pregnancy has consequences, especially for Black women.

 

Being overweight puts you at an increased risk for many diseases and health conditions, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke, coronary heart disease, high blood cholesterol and triglycerides (dyslipidemia) and gallbladder disease. It can also pose pregnancy-related issues, including labor and delivery complications, birth defects and fetal and neonatal death. Also, overweight pregnant women are more susceptible to certain conditions such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and gestational hypertension. These risks go up as the mother's weight increases.

 

And given how much being overweight and obese along with the disproportionate rates of diabetes and other health issues that we suffer, being even more careful during pregnancy is important. Eating healthier and being active is crucial.

 

And remember, there are foods you should be avoiding:

 

Deli and Processed Sandwich Meats: These meats might be contaminated with Listeria, potentially deadly bacteria that can result in miscarriage or even a stillbirth. While listeria is relatively harmless to most ordinary people, it can be life threatening for your unborn baby. If you want to eat deli meats, be sure that you cook them until they are steaming hot, which will help kill any bacteria that might be present.

 

Certain types of fish: Most fish is healthy; there are certain kinds of fish that contain high levels of mercury, which is harmful for your unborn baby's brain. Say no to swordfish, shark, king mackerel, tuna, sea bass and tilefish.

 

Raw eggs: Raw eggs have the potential to carry bacteria, particularly salmonella. Believe it or not raw eggs are in a number of various products including some forms of Caesar dressing, mayonnaise and even ice cream.

 

Unpasteurized soft cheeses, milk and juice: Same with deli and processed sandwich meats, listeria can be found in certain forms of Brie, Camembert, feta, blue cheese and Mexican cheeses like queso. If these cheeses, milk and juice are pasteurized, however, they should be safe to consume.

 

(Photo: Petr Josek Snr/Reuters)

   
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