What to eat while pregnant.

What to eat while pregnant.

Low levels of iron and folic acid, even months before you become pregnant, have been linked to premature births and stunted growth.

If you are eating a balanced diet already, you may only need to make a few, simple changes. Although cravings may rule your appetite, it is important to learn how to make the most of your meals
and effectively eat for you and your baby. Eating Before a Pregnancy. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the originators of the food pyramid, women should focus on a balanced diet,
including:

* Fruits, vegetables, whole
grains and fat-free or low-fat milk or dairy
* Lean meats, poultry, fish,
beans, eggs and nuts
* Foods and oils low in saturated fats, trans fats,
cholesterol, salt and added sugars

The total amount of calories you need depends on your height and how much you exercise, but in general, women should consume between 1,600 to 2,200 calories a day. A proper diet for any woman should include all of the important nutrients.

Eating During Pregnancy

You can stick to your same healthy diet during the first trimester of pregnancy, but after that, women should add an extra 300 calories a day, a total of 1,900 to 2,500 calories. Throughout your pregnancy,
avoid alcohol, raw fish, soft cheeses and large amounts of caffeine. If you are already at a reasonable weight, you should strive to gain about 25 to 30 pounds during pregnancy. Women who are very thin to begin with may need to gain more weight, while those who are obese should look to only gain 15 pounds, according to the American Dietetic Association (ADA) . Excess weight during pregnancy may
increase the risk of transferring weight-related problems to infants.

The ADA recommends the minimum daily
servings (6 ounces) for each during pregnancy:

* 9 servings of breads, cereal or pasta
* 4 servings of vegetables
* 3 servings of fruit
* 2-3 servings of milk, yogurt or cheese
* 2 servings of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs or nuts

Women should up their folic acid to 600 µg a day and double their intake of iron and protein. Pregnant women often crave dairy and sweets and have an aversion to meat. Other good sources for protein also include peanut butter and eggs.

A multi-vitamin supplement is generally recommended to help women meet their extra nutrient needs, which also includes vitamins A, B-6 and B-12. Calcium is better absorbed during pregnancy, but women should continue to get 1,000 mg of this nutrient a day to build strong bones for both mother and child. Iron can interfere with the absorption of other minerals, so women should take
supplements containing 15 mg zinc and 2 mg of copper.

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