Tips for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women

"Morning' sickness

"Morning" sickness is not necessarily unique to mornings. About half of all pregnant women experience this during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

• Eat dry toast or crackers.

• Eat smaller amounts—more frequently—so that your stomach isn't too empty or too full.

• Limit or avoid spicy and fried foods.

• Sip liquids. Try crushed ice or frozen ice pops to avoid dehydration if you are vomiting.

• Cook in a well-ventilated kitchen. Heartburn

During the later part of pregnancy, hormonal changes and the pressure due to an expanding uterus pushing on your stomach slow the rate at which food leaves the stomach. To diminish heartburn:

• Eat smaller meals more frequently.

• Limit or avoid chocolate and spicy and fried foods.


Increased pressure from the growing baby can slow down the movement of the contents in your bowels.

• Drink plenty of liquids—2 to 3 quarts daily.

• Eat whole-grain breads and cereals, fresh fruits, and raw vegetables.

• Exercise moderately and regularly.


Pregnancy increases the risk for anemia because of an inadequate intake of iron and folate, greater needs for these nutrients because of the baby, or both.

• Eat iron-rich foods (red meat, eggs, liver, dried fruit, iron-fortified cereals).

• Eat foods with folate (leafy green vegetables, oranges and grapefruit, dry beans, and cereals fortified with folic acid).

• Follow your health care provider's recommendations about supplements.


• Drink plenty of liquids—2 to 3 quarts daily.

• Choose calcium-rich foods (milk, yogurt, cheese, pudding, tofu).

• If you have a limited diet, check with your health care provider about continuing your prenatal vitamin-mineral supplement.

• Exercise regularly and moderately.


• If you drink alcohol, stop. If you don't, don't start.

• Avoid excessive salt, which may cause fluid retention and increase blood pressure.

smoking cigarettes, both of which are toxic to the developing fetus and should not be used when you are pregnant. Taking oral contraceptives is also associated with low levels of folate.

It is essential to talk with your health care provider about folic acid because too much of any supplement can harm your health. The best dietary sources of folic acid include fortified breakfast cereals and enriched grain products. Folate (the natural form of this vitamin found in foods) is found in leafy green vegetables, oranges and grapefruit, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, and other cooked dried beans. Even if you eat a well-balanced diet, prenatal vitamins are recommended.

Research has proved that women who have a normal weight at the time of conception have the healthiest pregnancies and babies if they gain 25 to 35 pounds. Women who are underweight may need to gain additional weight. Even women who are overweight should plan on gaining about 15 to 20 pounds. During the first trimester, additional calories may not be needed. It is important, however, to make sure that your diet provides the best nutrition possible for you and your unborn baby. In the second and third trimesters, you will need about 300 extra calories per day beyond your normal diet. Concentrate on foods such as lean meat, low- or no-fat dairy products, and dark green vegetables, all of which provide generous amounts of

During pregnancy, choose snacks wisely—with health in mind. This snack includes 1 cup frozen yogurt topped with granola, raisins, apples, and cinnamon. (See Chapter 5, page 132, for recipe.)

vitamins, minerals, and protein. If you enjoy milk and dairy products, it will be easy to meet your need for calcium, a crucial mineral during pregnancy. If you do not, ask your doctor or registered dietitian about calcium-fortified foods. In some cases, a supplement may be recommended.

Even with the increased need for calories, it is nearly impossible to get sufficient amounts of iron, which is needed in double the amounts recommended for non-pregnant women. The added iron is needed for the expanded blood volume that accommodates the changes in your body during pregnancy. Iron is also needed for the formation of tissue for both your baby and the placenta. At birth, a newborn needs enough stored iron to last for the first 6 months of life. The best advice is to eat a healthful diet and take only the supplements recommended by your caregiver.

Once a baby is born, the mother who chooses to breastfeed still needs extra calories—typically about 500 calories per day. Continue to concentrate on eating nutrient-rich foods (see sidebar: Tips for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women, page 44).

Senior Years

Maintaining a healthful diet into older adulthood can be a challenge, particularly if part of what makes eating a pleasurable experience—the senses of taste and smell— decline. Tooth loss or mouth pain can further complicate the act of eating. The medicines that must be taken to treat chronic diseases may affect appetite, when meals are eaten, and, in some cases, how food tastes.

Other life changes, including the loss of a spouse, fewer social contacts, economic hardships, and increasing dependence on others for day-to-day care, combine to make getting a healthful diet more difficult, but more important than ever.

As people become older, they can expect to need fewer calories than they did when they were younger—about 10 percent less per decade from age 50 onward. Persons age 70 should be eating about 80 percent of the calories they were eating 20 years earlier. Nonetheless, older people continue to need other nutrients in the same quantities as ever.

This decline in calorie intake translates into a need for food that is rich in nutrients, to provide what you used to get with more calories when you were younger. Keeping a lower-calorie intake in mind, you can simply follow the basics of the Food Guide Pyramid as you get older: heavy on the grain foods, fruits, and vegetables; adequate meats and dairy products; light on the fats, oils, and sweets.

Watch for signs of poor nutrition in older adults and consult a physician, registered dietitian, or other health care professional to address their nutritional needs and to determine whether supplementation with vitamins is needed.

In this chapter, you will read about the importance of nutrition in maintaining or improving your health. Whether you are healthy, have a medical problem, have a family history of one, or know a family member or friend with an illness, nutrition plays a major role in prevention and treatment of common diseases.




Knowing what nutrients comprise a well-balanced diet, in what foods to find them, and in what quantities to eat them are some of the first steps to good health. Applying this knowledge by eating nutrient-rich foods and incorporating physical activity into your schedule at any stage of life are the greatest investments you can make in sustaining good health.

Although healthful eating may lower your risk for certain diseases, there are no guarantees that adhering to the tenets of good nutrition will prevent an illness from developing. Science has shown that not all diseases or disorders are associated with what you eat. However, statistics do show that lifelong food selections may influence the risk for some diseases.

Research continues to evaluate and clarify the role that diet and nutrition play in the promotion of health and in the development of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, coronary artery disease, osteoporosis, cancer, and other illnesses. The nutritional recommendations for prevention of many diseases are similar (see Chapter 1).

In this chapter you will learn about selected conditions in which nutrition plays an important role

and how proper nutrition may affect and even alter the course of these conditions.

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