It's an old belief that you should be eating for two when you are pregnant. Pregnancy is absolutely no excuse for you to gorge on food. The essence of the adage is that you should eat for two in terms of the amount of required nutrients you're passing on to your child.
Zinc and calcium intake should increase by 50%, and folic acid and iron intake should be doubled. A healthy pregnancy diet differs from a non-pregnant woman's diet in that a pregnant woman is required to increase her intake by as much as 150 calories during the first trimester, and up to 250-300 calories beginning every day thereafter.
The pregnancy diet plan
Your diet during pregnancy must be well-rounded – that is, it must include representative foods from all food groups. Use the USDA food pyramid as your guide in planning your daily meals.
An ideal pregnancy diet must include 4 or more servings of protein, veggies, and dairy; 2-4 servings of your favorite fruits; 6-11 servings of grains; and a minimum of 3 servings of protein. Consume high-fiber foods and those rich in minerals such as iron and zinc.
You may still use salt and sugar but you have to use them sparingly. Avoid foods rich in preservatives. They would not do you and the baby any good. The importance of folic acid, likewise, could never be overemphasized.
The lack of folate in the pregnancy diet has been linked to neural tube defects such as spina bifida. The most critical stages are the first weeks after conception. Women who are planning to conceive are advised to consume 800 micrograms of folate everyday.
If you are a vegetarian, have certain health problems, or have been on weight-control pills, it is likely that your folic acid reserves are depleted – requiring the need for supplements. Vegetarians, especially, should consult with an expert to review their entitlement diet.
What to avoid
To stay on the safe side, eliminate foods that have been known to cause harm to you or the baby from your pregnancy diet. Raw seafood such as sushi, sashimi, oysters, squid, and the like must be avoided. Raw meat should likewise be avoided, so keep rare steaks and meat that's undercooked.
A healthy pregnancy diet also should not include milk that has not undergone the pasteurization process, as well as soft cheeses. You can include deep-sea fish such as tuna in your pregnancy diet, but these can not be consumed daily. One important rule of thumb is to eat everything in moderation.
Alcohol and caffeine should be avoided from the earliest moment possible until even months after childbirth. If you need a caffeine fix, then one cup of coffee a day would suffice.
It goes without saying that prohibited drugs are a no-no for all pregnant women. There have been hundreds of research proving how much damage these drugs can cause to both mothers and their babies. In many cases, take of these harmful substitutes has led to stillbirths.
Although there is no definitive scientific explanation to cravings, researchers claim that they are our bodies' natural way of taking in the substances our systems need at that time. If those that you crave for are inherently good for your pregnancy diet, then it's okay to indulge.