If you’re mothers-to-be and you actually are tempted by the thought: is a low carb diet healthy during pregnancy. You will see numerous important material on that topic, as well as tips, assistance, experiences, and answers to help questions around carrying a child, right nutrition and diet habits.
Eating well during pregnancy doesn’t just mean eating more. You also need to consider what you eat.
You only need about 340 to 450 extra calories per day – and that’s for the later stage of pregnancy, when your baby is growing faster. That’s not a lot of calories (a cup of cereal and 2% skim milk). It’s important that the calories come from nutritious foods so that they can contribute to your baby’s growth and development.
Why it is important to eat well when you are pregnant
Have you ever wondered how it can be reasonable to gain 25 to 35 pounds (on average) during your pregnancy, when a newborn baby only weighs a fraction of that amount? Although it can vary from woman to woman, here’s how those pounds can add up:
While it can vary from woman to woman, here’s how those pounds can add up:
- 7.5 pounds – average baby weight.
- 7 pounds – proteins, fats and other nutrients stored in the mother’s body.
- 4 pounds – additional blood.
- 4 pounds – additional body fluids.
- 2 pounds – breast enlargement.
- 2 pounds – uterine enlargement.
- 2 pounds – amniotic fluid surrounding the baby.
- 1.5 pounds – placenta.
Of course, patterns of weight gain during pregnancy vary. It’s normal to gain less weight if you start pregnancy heavier, and to gain more weight if you’re having twins or triplets – or if you were underweight before you got pregnant. More important than weight is what those extra pounds are made up of.
When you’re pregnant, what you eat is the primary source of your baby’s nutrition. In fact, the link between what you consume and your baby’s health is now much stronger than once thought. That’s why doctors now say, for example, that you shouldn’t drink any alcohol during pregnancy.
The extra foods you eat shouldn’t just be empty calories – they should provide the nutrients your baby needs to grow. For example, calcium helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth. While you are pregnant, you will still need more calcium for your body and extra calcium for your developing baby. You’ll also need more of the basic nutrients than you did before you became pregnant.
While you’re pregnant, you’ll still need more calcium for your body and extra calcium for your developing baby.
A nutrition base for pregnant women
Whether or not you are pregnant, a healthy diet includes protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and plenty of water. The U.S. government publishes nutrition guidelines that can help you determine how many servings of each food group you should eat each day. Eating a variety of foods in the right proportions is a good step toward staying healthy.
Food labels tell you what kind of nutrients are in the foods you eat. The letters RDA, found on these labels, stand for Recommended Daily Allowance, or the amount of nutrients recommended for your daily diet. During pregnancy, the RDA recommendations are higher.
Below we detail some of the most common nutrients you need and their corresponding values:
Scientists know that your diet can affect your baby’s health – even before you get pregnant. For example, studies indicate that folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects (including spina bifida) from occurring during the early stages of fetal development and during the first few weeks of pregnancy.
Doctors recommend that women take folic acid supplements before and during pregnancy (especially during the first 28 days). Be sure to ask your doctor about folic acid if you are considering pregnancy.
Calcium is another important nutrient for pregnant women. Because your growing baby’s calcium needs are high, you should increase your calcium intake to prevent calcium loss from your bones. Your doctor may also recommend prenatal vitamins which contain additional calcium.
The best sources of calcium are milk and other dairy products. However, if you are lactose intolerant or don’t like milk and milk products, ask your doctor about calcium supplements. (Symptoms of lactose intolerance include diarrhea, bloating, or excess gas after consuming milk or milk products. Taking a lactase capsule or pill, or consuming lactose-free products may help). Other calcium-rich foods include sardines or salmon with their bones, broccoli, spinach, fruit juices and calcium-fortified foods.
Doctors don’t usually recommend that a woman start a strictly vegetarian diet as soon as she becomes pregnant. However, if you were following a vegetarian diet before your pregnancy, you can follow the same diet when you become pregnant – but do so with caution. Make sure your doctor is aware of your diet. It’s a challenge to get the nutrition you need if you don’t eat fish, chicken, milk, cheese, or eggs. You’ll probably need protein complexes, and you’ll also need to take vitamin B12 and vitamin D complexes. To make sure you and your baby get the proper nutrition, consult with an experienced nutritionist to help you plan your diet.
What do pregnancy cravings mean for pregnant women?
You’ve probably known women who crave certain foods during pregnancy, or perhaps you’ve had such cravings yourself. Researchers have tried to determine whether having an appetite for a particular type of food indicates that a woman’s body lacks the nutrient that the food she craves contains. Although this is not the case, the source of the cravings has not yet been clarified.
Some pregnant women crave chocolate, spicy foods, fruits, and comfort foods like mashed potatoes, cereal, and toasted white bread. Other women crave non-food items such as clay and cornstarch. Craving and eating nonfood items is called pica. Eating non-food items can be dangerous for both you and your baby. If you have cravings for non-food items, please notify your doctor.
Satisfying your cravings is fine, as long as you crave foods that contribute to a healthy diet. Often, these cravings subside after the third month of pregnancy.
What to avoid eating and drinking during pregnancy
As mentioned above, avoid alcohol. No level of alcohol consumption is considered safe during pregnancy. Also, check with your doctor before taking vitamins or herbal products. Some of these products can be harmful to the fetus.
And while many doctors think that one or two 6-8 ounce cups of coffee, tea or caffeinated soda won’t hurt your baby, it’s probably a smart move to avoid caffeine altogether, if possible. High caffeine consumption has been linked to miscarriages and other problems, so it’s best to limit your intake or switch to decaffeinated products.
When you’re pregnant, it’s important to avoid food-borne illnesses, such as listeriosis and toxoplasmosis, which can be life-threatening to an unborn baby and can cause birth defects or miscarriages. Foods to avoid include:
Foods you should avoid include:
- soft, unpasteurized cheeses (described in advertising as “fresh”) such as Feta, goat, Brie, Camembert, and blue cheese.
- unpasteurized milk, juices and cider vinegar.
- raw eggs or foods containing them, including mousse-type desserts and Tiramisu.
- raw or undercooked meat, fish or seafood.
- processed meats such as sausages and sausages (which must be well cooked).
- fish with high mercury content, such as shark, swordfish, merlin, tuna and orange roughy.
If you’ve eaten these types of foods at some point during your pregnancy, don’t worry too much about it now; just avoid them for the rest of your pregnancy. If you’re really worried, consult your doctor.
More about fish
Fish and seafood can be a very healthy part of your diet during pregnancy (they contain beneficial omega-3 fatty oils, are high in protein and low in saturated fat). But you should limit your consumption of these fish because they can contain high levels of mercury. Mercury can cause damage to the brain development of a fetus or growing child.
Mercury, a naturally occurring element in the environment, can also be present in the air through air pollution and can accumulate in streams and oceans, where it is converted to mercury methylate on contact with water. Thus, concentrations of mercury are stored in fish, especially larger fish that tend to eat smaller fish.
Canned tuna can be problematic because the cans contain different types of tuna with different amounts of mercury. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends eating 2-3 servings of canned tuna per week and only 1 serving of albacore tuna (this is a larger fish and contains more mercury) per week. According to a 2017 report by the Consumers Union, albacore tuna may contain higher concentrations of mercury than previously thought and recommends that pregnant women not consume this fish. But the FDA, however, maintains its stance on the matter by stating that the levels of mercury present in this fish are not dangerous when eating limited amounts.
The fact that two respected organizations are making conflicting recommendations can be confusing. But because tests indicate that the amounts of mercury in tuna may be higher than previously thought, some women may want to eliminate consumption of such fish entirely while pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
All fish and shellfish contain certain levels of mercury, but you can safely eat up to 12 ounces per week of low-mercury fish, such as salmon, shrimp, clams, catfish and tilapia.
Speak to your doctor if you have any questions about how much fish to eat and which ones.
Control some common problems
The iron in prenatal vitamins and other factors may cause you to be constipated during pregnancy. So it’s a good idea to eat more fiber than you used to before you got pregnant. Aim for 20 to 30 grams of fiber a day. The best sources are fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, cereals or muffins.
Some people take fiber pills, drinks, or other high-fiber products available at the drugstore, but you should check with your doctor before using these products. Don’t use laxatives while you’re pregnant unless your doctor recommends it. And avoid the old home remedy – castor oil – because it can interfere with your body’s absorption of nutrients.
If constipation is a problem for you, your doctor may recommend a stool softening medication. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, especially water, when you increase your fiber intake, otherwise you could be aggravating the problem.
If constipation is a problem for you, your doctor may recommend a stool softening medication.
One of the best ways to avoid constipation is to exercise more. You should also drink more water between meals each day to help soften the stool and help it move through your digestive system. Sometimes hot tea, soups or both can help. Also keep nuts close by for when you have an appetite between meals.
Some pregnant women find that broccoli, spinach, cauliflower and fried foods give them gas or heartburn. You can plan a balanced diet that avoids these foods. Carbonated beverages may also cause gas or heartburn for some women, although others find that these foods help their digestive system.
If you frequently suffer from nausea , eat small amounts of simple foods such as toast or crackers throughout the day. Some women feel relief by eating foods with ginger. To help combat nausea, you can also:
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