Pregnancy: What to Eat and What to Avoid

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Antioxidants; hydration; foods to avoid

Blast Your Baby with Vitamins!

During pregnancy you want to provide your growing baby with plenty of nutrients— including the antioxidants: vitamin C and beta-carotene. Read on and learn which fruits and vegetables supply the biggest bang for your buck.

  • Fruits rich in vitamin C: Oranges, grapefruit, mango, strawberries, papaya, raspberries, tangerines, kiwis, cantaloupe, guava, lemons, orange juice, grapefruit juice, and other vitamin C–fortified juices.
  • Vegetables rich in vitamin C: Broccoli, tomato, sweet potato, pepper, kale, cabbage, brussels sprouts, rutabaga, cauliflower, and spinach.
  • Fruits rich in beta-carotene: Apricots, cantaloupe, papaya, mango, prunes, peaches, nectarines, tangerines, watermelon, and guava.
  • Vegetables rich in beta-carotene: Broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, collard greens, escarole, dark green lettuce, spinach, sweet potatoes, kale, butternut squash, chicory, red peppers, and tomato juice.

Keep on Drinkin', Sippin', Gulpin', and Guzzlin'!

Proper hydration is another vital component for a healthy pregnancy. Did you know that the average female is about 55–65 percent water, and the average newborn is about 85 percent water? During this nine-month period of bodily change, shift, and growth (to put it mildly), your fluid demands skyrocket for the following reasons:

  • You need to maintain your expanded blood supply and fluid volume. You see, through the blood and lymphatic system, water helps deliver oxygen and other nutrients all over your body.
  • Like always, fluids are needed to help wash down your food and assist in nutrient absorption.
  • Extra fluids, along with fiber, can help to alleviate some of the bothersome plumbing problems (alias “mom-to-be” constipation).
  • Fluid provides a cushion for the developing fetus and also helps lubricate your joints.
  • Lastly, fluid is needed for the normal functioning of every cell in your body.

“Favorable fluids” you should be guzzling down include water, club soda, bottled water, vegetable juice, seltzer, calcium-fortified fruit juice, and skim or 1% low-fat milk.

Liquids you should steer clear of are alcohol, coffee, tea, soft drinks, diet cola (and other artificially sweetened drinks), and questionable herbal teas.

Also realize that in some instances, you might need even more than the already increased amount: for example, if you're perspiring in hot weather, or when you're exercising, or if you have any type of fever, vomiting, or diarrhea. (Obviously, in the last cases, contact your doctor immediately.)

Foods to Forget!

The following is a suggested list of foods to avoid (or moderate) until after the baby is born

  • Raw foods: This includes sushi and other raw seafood, beef tartar, undercooked poultry, raw or unpasteurized milk, soft-cooked and poached eggs, cookie dough, and Caesar salad. These foods increase your risk of bacterial infection.
  • Alcohol: Avoid all beer, wine, and liquor.
  • Caffeine: This includes tea, coffee, and any other highly caffeinated beverages. If you must include regular coffee or tea, try to do so in moderation (1–2 cups per day).
  • Nitrates, nitrites, and nitrosamines: These are found in hot dogs, bacon, bologna, ham, deli turkey, and any other processed cold cuts.
  • Herbal teas: Some have medicinal properties. Check with your physician before consuming teas other than mint teas or raspberry leaf.
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG): Commonly found in Chinese food, soups, and frozen convenience meals, it can cause headaches, dizziness, and nausea.
  • Artificial sweeteners: Since the safety of these sweeteners is controversial, it may be best to use in moderation:
    • Aspartame (NutraSweet)
    • Saccharine (Sweet N' Low)
    • Sucralose (Splenda)
  • High-mercury fish: King mackerel, swordfish, shark, and tilefish. (See the explanation for this in The Story on Mercury and Fish.)
  • Cheeses: This includes soft, unpasteurized cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, feta, goat, Limburger, Montrachet, Neufchâtel, queso fresco, Point-Leveque, and ricotta. Also avoid unpasteurized semi-soft cheeses such as Gorgonzola, Muenster, and Roquefort. These cheeses carry a bacteria called listeria monocytogenes, which has the potential to be dangerous. Hard cheeses and pasteurized cheeses do not contain listeria. Additionally, all American cheeses are made with pasteurized milk and are therefore safe to eat during pregnancy. Imported cheeses, however, are not pasteurized and should be carefully considered.

    At cocktail parties, if you don't know what types of cheeses are being served, avoid them completely.

  • Olestra: Because it is a fat malabsorber, it's not appropriate to consume olestra during pregnancy. It can cause abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and malabsorption of fat-soluble vitamins.


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excerpted from:

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Total Nutrition © 2005 by Joy Bauer. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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August 30, 2014



Keep it hot (or cold)! No one likes cold soup or warm, wilted salad. Use a thermos or ice pack in your child's lunch box to help keep his lunch fresh until it's time to eat.

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