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Q: What should I eat while pregnant?
A: Every pregnant woman knows that pregnancy is a time to eat healthy for a healthy baby.
For the average woman, a 25-pound weight gain is encouraged. More if you are thin; less if you're starting out heavier. Most of the weight gain occurs in the second half of pregnancy.
It is better to eat frequent small meals rather than a small number of large meals. Do not skip meals. Ideally, three meals per day with light mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack would be optimal.
To avoid excessive weight gain, don't “graze” all day. There should be clear start and stop to your meals to allow glucose and insulin levels to normalize.
Avoid eating free sugars. Move towards more complex carbohydrates. Desserts are fine but should be eaten with the meal and not as a snack. Increasing fiber also tends to stabilize sugar levels as well as preventing constipation frequently associated with pregnancy.
Finally, there are foods to avoid during pregnancy. Avoid raw meat and raw fish as this will increase exposure to toxoplasma and listeria. Avoid unpasteurized soft cheeses, such as brie cheese, and deli meats as they can cause listeriosis outbreaks. Both toxoplasmosis and listeriosis are serious fetal infections.
Fish is an important source of protein and fatty acids. However, many waters can be contaminated with mercury. Intake of higher order fish like shark, swordfish, mackerel and tilefish should be minimized since they tend to accumulate mercury. No more than one serving of fish per week is considered to be safe.
Donald Rubino, MD, FACOG, is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist at Newton Medical Center.