Healthy eating

Healthy Pregnancy Tips: The 4 Dos and Don’ts

Healthy eating and balanced diet are important steps towards a happy and healthy lifestyle.1

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Healthy Pregnancy Tips: The 4 Dos and Don’ts

Healthy eating and balanced diet are important steps towards a happy and healthy lifestyle.1 Good eating habits during pregnancy are more important than ever and pregnancy is a critical period for you and your baby.2 In fact, maternal pre-pregnancy weight and maternal food intake may affect the short- and long-term health of the baby and may be associated with the baby’s food intake during childhood and adulthood.3,4,5,6

Let’s explore the healthy pregnancy tips together.
 

How much food should you eat?

Being pregnant doesn’t mean that you will be eating for two or doubling your calories per day.

  • During the 1st trimester, most woman will still be eating the same calories that you used to before getting pregnant and no extra calories are needed.7,8
  • During the 2nd trimester, most woman will need an extra 340 calories per day as your baby will start growing and developing.7,8
  • During the 3rd trimester, most woman will need an extra 450 calories per day is needed as your baby will be growing in size and weight.7

The additional calories should come from nutrient dense foods such as whole-wheat breads, lean proteins, low-fat dairy products, fruits, and vegetables and not from fruit juices, high sugary beverages, junk foods or sweets. 
 

Which foods should you eat, and which should you avoid?

It is recommended for you to be eating a balanced, varied diet that includes all food groups:1

  • Grains: Breads, cereals, pastas that are made with wholegrain flour, brown rice and all types of wholegrain toasts and tortillas.
  • Fruits: All types of fruits. Try limiting fruit juices and dried fruits with added sugar.
  • Vegetables: Fresh, frozen, or canned with no added salt.
  • Proteins:Lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, and nuts.
  • Dairy: Low fat or fat free milk, cheese, and yogurt.
  • Fat: Olive oil, avocado, seeds, and nuts.


The following types of foods are recommended to be avoided for your baby’s safety and yours:7,8

  • Raw or undercooked seafood
  • Unpasteurized soft cheeses (like feta, Brie, and goat cheese)
  • Raw meats, poultry, or eggs
  • Unpasteurized juices or milk
  • Cold cuts (deli meat, hotdog…)
  • Raw sprouts, including alfalfa, clover, radish
  • Your appetite might change during pregnancy affecting your mood and food cravings. Don’t deprive yourself from pleasurable food such as sweets and junk food but make sure to enjoy them in moderation.


Which drinks are allowed, and which are to be avoided?

  • Make water your best mate by drinking plenty of it, it will help in preventing dehydration, constipation.2
  • Limit your caffeine intake to no more than 2 cups per day. Gradually reduce the amount of caffeine and remember that caffeine is not only in coffee but also in tea and soft drinks.9
  • Avoid drinking alcohol as “No safe amount” is set to be consumed during pregnancy, and it was shown to cause severe abnormalities in newborns.10


Should you exercise?

Exercise is always recommended for pregnant woman as it contributes to the maternal and fetal well-being.1 It is usually recommended to exercise for 150 min a week by aiming for 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most, if not all, days of the week 8. Always consult with your doctor before engaging in any new type of exercise.12

Exercising during pregnancy has been shown to have different benefits:1

  • Managing weight gain and decreasing the risk of retaining the weight gained after pregnancy
  • Improving your mood and energy
  • Reducing backaches, constipation and swelling
  • Improving your posture, promoting muscle tone and strength
  • Strengthening your pelvic muscles can help with labor3

“Strike a balance between healthy weight gain and nutritional intake. Try to keep in mind that you are not eating for two, you are eating carefully for one” 2, move your body and enjoy the magical time of pregnancy.
 

References:

1. WHO/Europe | Nutrition - Benefits of a balanced diet

2. Eating for Pregnancy: The Essential Nutrition Guide and Cookbook for Today's ... - Catherine Jones, Rose Ann Hudson - Google Books

3. Maternal overweight and obesity and risk of congenital heart defects in offspring - PubMed (nih.gov)

4. Maternal obesity and occurrence of fetal macrosomia: a systematic review and meta-analysis - PubMed (nih.gov)

5. A prospective study of maternal prenatal weight and offspring cardiometabolic health in midchildhood - PubMed (nih.gov)

6. Maternal Dietary Patterns during Pregnancy Are Associated with Child Growth in the First 3 Years of Life - PubMed (nih.gov)

7. Eat Healthy During Pregnancy: Quick tips - MyHealthfinder | health.gov

8. Healthy Weight during Pregnancy (eatright.org)

9. Eating Right During Pregnancy (eatright.org)

10. Staying Healthy During Pregnancy (for Parents) - Nemours Kidshealth

11. Pregnancy And Exercise - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)

12. Exercise During Pregnancy: Safety, Benefits & Guidelines (americanpregnancy.org)

13. Exercise in pregnancy - NHS (www.nhs.uk)