Eating Right When Pregnant
Foods to Avoid When Pregnant
- Avoid alcohol during pregnancy. Alcohol has been linked to premature delivery, mental retardation, birth defects, and low birth weight babies.
- Limit caffeine to no more than 300 mg per day. The caffeine content in various drinks depends on the beans or leaves used and how it was prepared. An 8-ounce cup of coffee has about 150 mg of caffeine on average while black tea has typically about 80 mg. A 12-ounce glass of caffeinated soda contains anywhere from 30-60 mg of caffeine. Remember, chocolate contains caffeine -- the amount of caffeine in a chocolate bar is equal to 1/4 cup of coffee.
- The use of saccharin is strongly discouraged during pregnancy because it can cross the placenta and may remain in fetal tissues. But, the use of other non-nutritive or artificial sweeteners approved by the FDA is acceptable during pregnancy. These FDA-approved sweeteners include aspartame (Equal or NutraSweet), acesulfame-K (Sunett), and sucralose (Splenda). These sweeteners are considered safe in moderation so talk with your health care provider about how much non-nutritive sweetener is acceptable during pregnancy.
- Decrease the total amount of fat you eat to 30% or less of your total daily calories. For a person eating 2000 calories a day, this would be 65 grams of fat or less per day.
- Limit cholesterol intake to 300 mg or less per day.
- Do not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish (also called white snapper), because they contain high levels of mercury.
- Avoid soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined, and Mexican-style cheese. These cheeses are often unpasteurized and may cause Listeria infection. There’s no need to avoid hard cheese, processed cheese, cream cheese, cottage cheese, or yogurt.
- Avoid raw fish, especially shellfish like oysters and clams.
What to Eat When Pregnant and Don't Feel Well
During pregnancy you may have morning sickness, diarrhea, or constipation. You may find it hard to keep foods down, or you may feel too sick to even eat at all. Here are some suggestions:
- Morning Sickness: Eat crackers, cereal, or pretzels before getting out of bed; eat small, frequent meals throughout the day; avoid fatty, fried, and greasy foods.
- Constipation: Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables. Also drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day.
- Diarrhea: Eat more foods that contain pectin and gums (two types of dietary fiber) to help absorb excess water. Examples of these foods are applesauce, bananas, white rice, oatmeal, and refined wheat bread.
- Heartburn: Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day; try drinking milk before eating; and limit caffeinated foods and beverages, citric beverages, and spicy foods.
Can I Diet While Pregnant?
No. Do not diet or try to lose weight during pregnancy -- both you and your baby need the proper nutrients in order to be healthy. Keep in mind that you will lose some weight the first week your baby is born.