Counting calories, tallying nutrients, avoiding junk food -- they're smart dietary practices for anyone, but they're even more essential for pregnant women. In fact, new research suggests that the foods you eat can play a role in how your baby's genes are expressed, affecting factors such as weight and intelligence.
Eating for Two? Try 1.1
One of the most widely held myths about pregnancy is that expectant mothers should eat for two. Actually, research suggests that women should increase their caloric intake by 10 percent -- you're really eating for 1.1.
During the first trimester, you should shoot for an increase of about 100 calories per day more than a typically healthy intake of calories, the equivalent of an extra glass of skim milk. During the second trimester, you'll want to increase to an extra 250 calories per day, and for the third, about an extra 300 calories.
Don't Forget Fat -- Healthy Fat
There are certain fats that our bodies need but cannot make, and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is a prime example. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil. It's essential for the development of a baby's brain, nervous system, and vision, both in the womb and as a newborn.
In addition to products with added DHA, such as eggs and milk, try these naturally DHA-rich foods:
- Light canned tuna
Go Nuts for Nuts
When cravings hit and you're tempted to reach for unhealthy junk food, try healthy nuts instead. Almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts are all great choices for that midday snack. Not only will the extra dose of magnesium give you a great energy boost, but the healthy unsaturated fats, fiber, and vitamin E they contain will keep you looking healthy and radiant from the inside out.