Eating Well When You’re Pregnant

During her pregnancy last year, Crystal Bueno, a Wall Street executive from Brooklyn, N.Y., would start her day by preparing a healthy breakfast and lunch to bring to work. She would kick off her workday by eating her breakfast, she but by lunch, she would occasionally trash the turkey sandwich “I could not face it,” said Bueno who is now mom to a baby boy. The nausea caused by her pregnancy turned her stomach to certain foods. She would wander into a Chinese restaurant only to leave because of the smell. A trip into the deli often ended the same way. “I would be wracked with indecision on what to eat,” said Bueno. “Then I would go and grab pizza for lunch.”
Bueno’s pizza lunch incited debates among her co-workers. Was she making healthy lunch choices? When it comes to lunch, Annette Rossi, a registered dietician at Morristown Memorial Hospital, said pregnant women should follow basic nutrition guidelines as well as the nutrition suggestions given by their doctor. The American College of Obstetric and Gynecology recommended that women try to gain an extra 25 to 35 pounds during their pregnancy.  That means women can consume an extra 300 to 400 calories daily. Moms-to-be should eat at least three to four servings of calcium a day but should skip soft cheeses, such as mozzarella and Brie. The softer cheeses can contain lysteria, a bacterium that can lead to stillbirth. Undercooked or prepackaged meat and seafood (like sushi) can also harbor lysteria and should be avoided.But how about a cheese pizza? Rossi said that can make a healthy lunch as long as the pizza is not baked in pools of oil or covered in fatty meats. Pizza with low-fat cheeses, whole-wheat crusts and fresh vegetables can be even healthier.  Deli sandwiches can also be a smart and safe lunch if the meats are freshly sliced. (Freshly sliced meats have a lower risk of bacteria contamination). However, skip a tuna fish sandwiches because tuna contains a high level of mercury which can cause birth defects.

During the day, Rossi said women can handle their hunger cravings and add extra calories with simple snacks. Stay away from chips, cookies, saltines, pretzels, and foods high in salt and fat. A better bet: dry fruits, yogurt, fresh fruit and vegetables. Yellow and oranges fruits and vegetables have the added benefit of containing a good does of vitamin C and A—a must for moms-to-be as the vitamins assist in the development of the unborn child. Rossi said a woman can also jump-start her workday or get a mid-afternoon pick me up with coffee—as long as it’s less than two six-ounce cups.

In addition to eating well, you should know who is preparing your lunch.

“You want it to be from a reputable source,” she said. “Not a corner vendor.”