It can be easy to eat whatever is most convenient when you’re in a hurry. Sometimes you settle for going to a MacDonald’s drive-through or perhaps you grab a bag of potato chips from the vending machine at work, but these eating habits are not exactly nutritious, especially if you’re pregnant.
When you’re expecting, it’s important to eat right to ensure that you’re providing the appropriate nutrients for your baby’s health. This doesn’t mean you have to eat for two—in fact, this can be unhealthy—but it does mean that you may have to change your diet and avoid foods that you normally eat.
Here are some important diet tips and things to keep in mind if you have a baby on the way.
How many extra calories should I eat?
For pregnant women who have a healthy body weight, you don’t need to add any additional calories to your diet in the first trimester. During the second trimester, however, you should generally eat about 300 extra calories per day, and about 450 extra calories once you reach the third trimester.
If you’re overweight or underweight, then you may need to add or subtract calories depending on age, fetal development, and your current health. The daily caloric intake for an optimal pregnancy can vary for each person, so be sure to ask your doctor how many extra calories you should consume. In general, it’s healthy to pack on between 20 to 35 pounds when you’re pregnant.
What to Eat During Pregnancy
Eating a balanced diet is the best way to promote the health of both the mother and the baby during pregnancy. This means eating the right number of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vegetables, and fruits. It’s also important to eat foods with fiber, calcium, zinc, folic acid, and iron.
Here are some healthy foods that are safe to eat when you’re pregnant:
- Red pepper
Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
For expecting mothers, it’s best to avoid eating empty calories (e.g. cake, candy, cookies, etc.) as these provide little nutritional value. You should also avoid raw or undercooked foods since they can increase the risk of listeria, a dangerous infection that can lead to premature birth or death of the mother and/or baby. Of course, alcohol is especially dangerous to unborn children because their livers are underdeveloped, and studies suggest that caffeine may increase your risk for a miscarriage.
If you’re expecting a baby, here are some foods you might want to give up:
- Deli meat
- High-mercury fish
- Perishable foods (e.g. potato or pasta salad)
- Pre-stuffed chicken or turkey
- Rare meat
- Raw shellfish
- Runny eggs
- Smoked seafood
- Soft cheese (e.g. feta, goat cheese, blue cheese, etc.)
- Unpasteurized milk