pregnancy

The ABC’s (AND DEF’s) OF EATING WELL WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING

Keep these key words in mind when you’re planning your meals, and you can’t help but eat well:

Assortment.

Variety is the spice of life and the key to a good pregnancy diet—ensuring that you and your baby won’t get too much of one nutrient and not enough of another. So while turkey breast and cheese with lettuce and tomato on whole wheat makes a great lunch, it isn’t so great if you eat it every single day. A daily assortment of healthy foods will provide your fetus with a daily assortment of necessary nutrients. (An exception to the assortment rule: when you’re suffering from morning sickness, you’ll need to eat whatever you can get down—even if it’s the same sandwich three times a day, seven days a week.)

Balance.

Balance and moderation are the foundation of any healthy diet. One chocolate-chip cookie won’t rock the nutritional boat; a whole bag will—especially when it takes the place of dinner. Adequate intake of vitamin A (in the form of fruits and vegetables) is crucial for good health; too much vitamin A (in the form of supplements) can be toxic. Whole grains and lean protein are both good for you and baby—but eating one to the exclusion of the other isn’t beneficial. Striking that balance—eating the appropriate amounts of foods (both the healthy and the less healthy foods)—is a cornerstone of eating well during pregnancy. Extremes in either direction are never smart.

Color.

Paint your plate with a bold palette of colors (the naturally occurring ones, that is), and you’ll be pleasing your senses while filling your nutritional requirements. Follow the rainbow through your market’s produce department, sampling the spectrum of nature’s bounty. From blushing red strawberries and tomatoes and watermelon to vibrant yellow peppers and squash and melons to deep crimson cherries and pomegranates and beets, vivid colors signal a cache of nutrients. Hues are hot, so color your world daily.

Dieting … is out.

Pregnancy is never the time for a weight-loss diet. Your baby needs a continuous supply of calories and nutrients throughout its nine-month stay in your uterine café. The weight that you gain (assuming it’s gained on the right types of food) is there for a very important purpose: to nourish your baby and ensure optimum growth in the womb. There will be plenty of time after pregnancy to shed any leftover pounds.

Experiment.

Been stuck in a food rut? Think of pregnancy as a time to expand your eating horizons as you expand your waistband—to explore uncharted (at least to you) culinary territory (including fruits, vegetables, grains you’ve never sampled before). Try new foods and experiment with old favorites (with new recipes).

Fun … is what eating should be.

Nothing dooms an eating plan faster than boredom. That’s why it’s so important to make eating well during pregnancy a pleasant experience (at least once the nausea has passed). Whenever you can, add the little touches that make food fun—whether it’s a dip for your veggies or a baked-taco-chip garnish for your chili. Take time to savor your food (instead of gulping it down), which will help with heartburn, too. And leave guilt off the menu—even those times when you’re treating yourself to something that’s not-so-good for you (but that tastes oh-so-good), let yourself enjoy it!

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