Ten Steps to a Healthy Pregnancy Diet

by Bridget Swinney

You're pregnant! Congratulations! Soon you'll be craving pickles, peanut-butter, and barrels of ice cream. You can satisfy those cravings but you also need to eat right to ensure you and the baby are healthy. Here are ten tips for healthy eating while you're pregnant.

1. Variety for good balance. Variety is not only the spice of life, it also provides the right balance of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals you need.

2. Moderation is the key to an enjoyable life and also the key to good health. There isn't a single food that you should never eat, regardless of its fat or sugar content. Just eat it in small amounts.

3. Follow the food plate guide. The food plate is a wonderful pictorial example of how our diet should be built.

4. Bone up on calcium. Calcium has never been more important in the diet. Calcium has been shown to lower blood pressure and to reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia (a form of hypertension occurring in pregnancy).

5. Don't skimp on iron. Getting enough iron in your diet may be a real challenge-while women need more iron than men.

6. Go for the whole grains-three are key. Whole grains provide energy, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They also reduce the risk of fatal colon cancer, breast cancer, and endometrial cancer.

7. Don't forget to exercise. The benefits of exercise are obvious: stress reduction, improved endurance, lower resting heart rate, blood pressure control, lowered risk of heart attacks.

8. Get your fill of fluids. Our body is comprised of about 60 percent water, so drinking plenty of it makes sense. Thirst is the first sign of dehydration. Eight to ten glasses a day are recommended.

9. Focus on fiber. Most of us don't get enough fiber; the National Cancer Institute recommends twenty to thirty-five grams. Adequate fiber in the diet may reduce risk of colon cancer and breast cancer.

10. Spare the extras. As mentioned before, no food should be totally off limits. However, you can also go overboard in fat, sugar, and even artificial sweetners if you let your taste buds rule. Eat such extras as candy, "junk food," and ice cream only after you have eaten all the "must" foods.

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