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What to Eat When You're Pregnant

January 20th, 2012 Healthy Living

Maintaining a healthy diet when you're pregnant is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and the baby. Pregnancy is a physically taxing time, and ensuring that you're receiving proper nutrition can make the process much easier. Eating well can also improve your baby's development and growth. Although dietary needs can vary from one mother to the next, the Mayo Clinic has offered a basic outline for women around 25 to 30 years of age who receive at least 30 minutes of daily exercise. If you'd like something more fine-tuned to your specific needs, you can find a bevy of information from the Department of Agriculture's website. However, all expectant mothers should make sure they're receiving some amount of each of these foods.

1. Grains. Grains provide your body with carbohydrates, which is its primary source of energy. Pregnancy takes a lot out of you, so it's important that you're able to make it through the day without going to bed completely exhausted. Many grains can also give you fiber, essential B vitamins and iron. Foods to eat include fortified cereal like bran flakes, whole wheat bread and wheat pasta. Try swapping out white rice for brown and start cooking with barley.

2. Fruits and vegetables. Naturally, you want to make sure that you're getting enough fruits and veggies every single day. They're filled to the brim with vitamins and minerals that are healthy for you and your baby, not the least of which is vitamin C, which can help your body absorb iron and foster the development of collagen, which can lead to the growth of cartilage and bone. Try incorporating a piece of fruit into your breakfast routine and eat a generous helping of salad with every dinner. If you start getting hungry in between meals, grab an apple or an orange.

3. Meats. Whether you prefer red meat, poultry or fish, meat provides you with a heaping helping of protein and iron. These are especially important for your baby's growth during the second and third trimesters, so try to work more into your diet as your pregnancy goes on. Your appetites may have changed now that you're pregnant, however, and foods you traditionally loved may no longer be appealing. If this is the case, rest assured that there are plenty of options available to you. If you don't eat meat, you can receive ample amounts of these nutrients from eggs and beans as well.

4. Dairy. Try to include some dairy into your diet as well. The calcium is important for your baby's bone development - if you're lactose intolerant, you can drink fortified soy milk instead. Some pregnant women may have a hard time digesting dairy, in which case you can find plenty of other alternatives, such as orange juice. You may even want to consider buying a lactase enzyme product that can ease the burden on your stomach. Try working a cup of yogurt into your morning routine every day, or start eating sandwiches with cheese.

Every woman is different, so the recommended amount of nutrients that you eat can vary. However, you should try to ensure that you work all four of these categories into your diet every day. It can be difficult to keep food down when you're pregnant, but in a pinch you can find supplements to help cover what you aren't consuming.