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Patients often ask me “I want to get pregnant, what should I eat?”

It is important to start thinking of that question at least 1 month before even getting pregnant. The analogy I often use with my patients is the process of planting crops. If you want to grow nutritious and delicious crops, you have to first use decontaminated soil and second add essential nutrients so the crops will grow well.

With these thoughts in mind, a you must first stop smoking and alcohol. You should also stop eating trans fats which have been shown to cross the placenta and harm your baby’s development. Get your chronic medical conditions under control. Diabetes, Hypertension, Crohn’s Disease just to name a few will negatively effect your pregnancy and harm your precious baby. See your doctor and get evaluated BEFORE GETTING PREGNANT. You should eat a balanced 1800-2200 calorie diet daily.   And, very important, start taking a Prenatal Vitamin with DHA.

It is also very important to get your body in a healthy weight before getting pregnant. A very good weight range is a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 20-25. Medically, I think of body weight not in terms of pounds but BMI because there is no ideal weight for every woman. Weight is always dependent on your height. BMI relates these two factors together. In other words, what is your healthy weight range given your height. Remember during a normal pregnancy, you will gain 20-35 pounds because of the baby, placenta, extra blood and water retention. That extra weight will drain your energy so you fatigue faster. It will put stress and strain on your back and legs. Your joints and muscles will remind you of that extra weight with nagging aches and pains. If you start off with extra weight these symptoms will be that much worse. The internet is full of BMI calculators so calculate your BMI today.

Once you are pregnant, you only need to increase your daily calorie intake by 400 calories. Basically, you will go from 1800-2200 calories to 2200-2600 calories daily. That information often shocks my patients. Mamas and Nanas often tell their girls to “EAT, EAT, EAT!”   That is simply not necessary. Overeating is unhealthy. It can lead to problems like excessive weight, Diabetes and more. REMEMBER… IT’S NOT QUANTITY, IT’S QUALITY.

You should eat 3 healthy meals and 2 healthy snacks each day. Each meal should include broken up into 25% Protein, 25% Carbohydrates and 50% Vegetables.   Healthy Proteins include egg whites, chicken, fish, and nuts. You should eat 1g of a Protein for each Kg of your weight per day. So if you are 60 Kg or 132 pounds, you should eat 60 g of Protein a day divided over your 5 meals and snacks. Healthy carbohydrates include quinoa, couscous, and rice.   You should eat 175g of carbohydrates per day also divided over your 5 meals and snacks. Finally, vegetables… Pick one. They are all healthy. But remember, portion control. A great rule of thumb I use when eating is PALM SIZE PORTION.

Also, vitamins and minerals are very important. 0.4mg of Folic Acid is recommended for you. Folic Acid helps your baby’s neurologic system, otherwise known as the BRAIN, develop properly. You should take 300mg of DHA each day also known as Omega 3 or fish oil. DHA is vital for your baby’s eye and brain development. 27mg of Iron a day is recommended for you. Iron transports Oxygen throughout your body and that of your baby which is vital for cells to function; Oxygen burns the fuel in your cells to produce energy for ALL LIFE’S FUNCTIONS. 250mg of Calcium and 400IU of Vitamin D a day are important to help your baby develop its strong bones.   28g of Fiber is good for you. Fiber improves bowel function so your body can extract the nutrients from the foods that you eat. Fiber also reduces constipation, which is a very big complaint amongst pregnant women.   20mg of Zinc ingested daily will help your baby grow.   Is your head spinning yet… this is a lot of information, but the great news is Prenatal Vitamins have all these essential vitamins and minerals. So simply remember to TAKE YOUR PRENATAL VITAMINS EVERYDAY.

“IS THAT ALL?” you may be asking. NO!

Remember, it’s not only about what you eat, it’s also about what you drink. Since the human body is made up of 65% water, logic dictates that WATER IS KEY. For all you Survivor fans, the human body can survive approximately 20 days without food, BUT CAN ONLY SURVIVE 3-4 DAYS WITHOUT WATER.   So, you have to drink  3 liters of water everyday which translates to 12-15 cups, depending on the size of your cup. Why so much? you may ask. The answer is because blood is the fluid that transports Oxygen and nutrients to your organs and to your baby’s organs; that’s called Circulation. Without an effective circulation, your body breaks down and ultimately dies. Blood is made up of 2 main components PLASMA and CELLS. PLASMA is made up of… you guessed it, WATER in addition to essential Salts and Proteins. So, what mama and nana should be advising you instead of “EAT, EAT, EAT!” is “DRINK, DRINK, DRINK!”. Water is the best. Avoid too much juice and soda, these liquids are high in sugar which can lead to excessive weight gains, Diabetes. Which I explained earlier is bad for you and your baby.

I hope this helps.

BE AWARE AND TAKE CARE of your health.

BY : Leonid Sorkin MD, FACO

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