Wondering how you'll need to change your diet to accommodate your growing body and developing baby? Here's the lowdown: Eat healthy, add about 300 calories to your diet, and make sure you're taking a good prenatal supplement with folic acid, iron, and calcium. That's the boiled-down, bare-bones basics. But what exactly does that mean?
Without getting into the complexities of pregnancy nutrition (what foods are best for your growing body, how to not eat for two, how to influence your unborn baby's taste buds), here's a look at the main rules to live by.
Go for Six Small Meals
Spread your food intake over several small meals, instead of the usual three square meals daily. The idea is to keep you and your baby properly fueled all day long. By equilibrating a stable blood sugar, meals spread out throughout the day will prevent dizziness and fatigue. Even skipping just one meal is enough to have you swagger to a chair with dizziness. Also, grazing through your day is more likely to keep some food in the stomach all of the time, buffering acid and decreasing pregnancy heartburn. Six small mini-meals are better than three larger ones.
Focus on a Variety
Thinking of food groups or the food pyramid is a tidy way to categorize nutrition and how best to eat, but try not to eat just one group for a single meal. For instance, if you had your protein and vegetables for lunch, an all sugar and starch supper is a bad idea. The way to go is to have an even mix, every meal. Aim to include a combination of the following in each of your meals:
- Meats, fish, poultry (including eggs)
- Dairy group
- Fruits and vegetables (for Vitamin C and Vitamin A)
- Bread, cereals, legumes, and peas (vegetarians can get their iron from beans and their protein from beans and nuts)