Eating for two? Here’s what you need to know

Science and Health

Have recently found out that you’re pregnant? Congratulations! The anticipation is over, but now you have to make some serious lifestyle changes in your nutrition and eating habits. One concern you might have is: Do you really need to eat for two?

Keren Granit, a clinical dietitian specializing in nutrition during pregnancy, is here to give the crucial advice you need.

Proper nutrition during pregnancy is critically important for both you and the fetus. Numerous studies over the years have shown that your diet is directly connected to normal fetal development.

Just as your wants and desires change, so do your nutritional needs throughout pregnancy, as they are directly related to the changing needs of the fetus and its development rate.

Rules for a balanced diet for a healthy pregnancy

Here are several firm rules for proper and balanced nutrition during pregnancy:

Illustrative image of a pregnant belly. (credit: PIXABAY)
  • Make sure you have a high protein intake. A fetus needs protein to develop and build tissue. Eating provides the necessary building blocks for proper fetal development. Recommended protein sources include chicken, fish, eggs, and tofu. However, you should eat less beef.
  • Eat more iron. As the pregnancy progresses, blood volume increases and with it the risk of developing iron deficiency anemia. Good sources of iron are green leaves, beets, tahini, quinoa, and oatmeal. Of course, ask your doctor if you need iron supplements.
  • It’s time to eat fats! Eating foods with essential fatty acids like omega-3 helps the fetus’s brain develop. Foods with omega-3 include walnuts, legumes, and flax seeds.
  • Avoid foods that contain high amounts of cholesterol, saturated fat, and salt. This is a recommendation that is applicable throughout a woman’s life but is especially true during pregnancy, as cholesterol is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.
  • Take nutritional supplements recommended by the Health Ministry: Folic acid 400 mcg, iron 30 mg, vitamin D 200-400 IU, iodine 220 mcg.
  • Suffering from nausea? Drinking water with ginger and ice cubes and nibbling on a cold cucumber are techniques that may help ease nausea in the first few weeks.

What things should you avoid?

  • Protect yourself from bacteria – avoid raw food, food that has been stored or transported in improper conditions, expired food, vegetables, and fruits that might have pesticide residue, and fatty cheeses.
  • The immune system doesn’t function well during pregnancy and is more vulnerable to listeria and salmonella.
  • Stop drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco completely – no, you can’t even do it occasionally! A fetus can be severely damaged from even minor exposure to alcohol and cigarette smoke.
  • Remember, your lifestyle habits impact your health and the health of the fetus. Stick to the appropriate guidelines for pregnancy as much as possible in order to ensure a full-term and normal pregnancy

Despite the large amount of information available online, it’s always better to stick to a personalized treatment plan, so talk to your doctor.

If you are concerned about gestational diabetes or something that may seem unusual, talk to your doctor.

This article was written in cooperation with the JAMA parenting app.