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Expecting to Expect? Diet for Pre-Pregnancy

Updated on October 16, 2012

Expecting to Expect? Diet for Pre-Pregnancy

Deciding to have a baby is one of the biggest life choices that a woman will ever make. Along with that one big choice come several smaller, everyday choices that will affect the future mother and her child. Particularly important are the dietary choices mom makes, because it is essential to maintain a healthy diet during pre-pregnancy. This special pre-pregnancy time is when mom has the chance to get her body in tip top child baring shape. Following a proper pre-pregnancy diet helps to ensure that mom is getting the nutrition she deserves so that when the time is right, her baby will get the nutrients he needs to grow strong.

Pillars of a Healthy Diet for Pre-Pregnancy

· Green and leafy! Not only do green leafy vegetables provide the folic acid that a body needs during pre-pregnancy, but also helps prevent birth defects, such as spina bifida. Spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, asparagus, broccoli, lentils/beans, citrus fruits, sunflower seeds, avocados and whole grains are all great sources of folic acid. A good rule of thumb is to make sure and include as many "colors" of veggies as possible. Kale is one vegetable that comes in several different varieties and colors, each providing several benefits. Kale provides vitamins A, C and K, as well as calcium for strong bones. Collard greens also provide many of these same benefits, with a slightly stronger cabbage flavor. Collards are very affordable and versatile, and can be used in soups or prepared in a slow cooker with meat. Turnip greens are tender and provide a flavorful "bite" to many dishes, and swiss chard adds a slightly beet-like flavor to meals.

· Go natural! This doesn't mean spending a fortune on locally grown organic fruits and veggies (although those are undoubtedly the best), it just means putting some thought into your diet for pre-pregnancy. If the food has been so processed that it is not recognizable as what it was when it was picked, then it has no place in a pre-pregnancy diet. Tons of preservatives aren't good for the mom to be, and definitely not for the baby to be. Try to use leftover cooked meat for sandwiches instead of processed lunchmeats, and stick with whole fruits rather than those from a jar or can. Instead of a bowl of pudding, try a banana smashed up with some peanut butter and brown sugar to satisfy that sweet tooth! It's loaded with potassium and protein, and will keep mom full for longer.

· Don't skimp on protein. Expectant mothers need almost twice as much protein as non-pregnant women. Protein helps the body create amino acids, the body's building blocks. Proper protein intake will help baby develop organs and muscles, and will help mom create those extra cells she'll need for all of those areas that are bound to thicken up a bit. Excellent sources of protein include lean meats, low-fat cheeses, fish (not more than twice per week, and not fish that are high in mercury), beans and eggs.

· Indulge…just a little. Rather than completely cutting out all junk food immediately and falling off the wagon, women should give themselves little rewards now and then for a job well done. This will help encourage mom to stick to the overall healthier pre-pregnancy diet without feeling like she's too restricted. Moderation is key, even with ice cream.

· Skip the habit of skipping meals. A mom wouldn't "forget" or "get too busy" to feed her child, but a pregnant mom that gets too busy to feed herself is doing just that. It's important to develop good habits during the pre-pregnancy time in order to keep those good habits during pregnancy. Skipping meals not only messes with the metabolic rate, it sends the body's natural clock off-kilter and makes it harder to get and stay in a healthy routine. An easy habit to get into is to keep a bag of nuts or a granola bar in a purse or glove compartment. That way, if there's absolutely no time to sit down to a meal, there's still a quick boost available to keep the metabolism and blood sugar even.

Make a healthy diet for pre-pregnancy into a lifestyle change. Maintaining healthy habits while trying to become pregnant helps to get the body in shape for conception. Keeping those healthy habits around not only help keep mom and baby healthy during pregnancy, but sets a great example for older children (and spouses!) who might need a little extra encouragement to make the right choices. Your body-and your baby-are depending on you to get ready by sticking to healthy diet. Who's up for a salad?

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