What Can I Do During Pregnancy – Part 2: Eating

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This is the second in a series of articles on making healthy and safe choices during your pregnancy. Be sure to read the first post!

Eating for two

This should be a happy time. The one time, in our body conscientious world, when a girl can feel good and – dare I say it – even proud about putting on a few extra pounds and some pants with an elastic waist.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Expecting Expats - What Can I Do During Pregnancy – Part 2: Eating

Exhibit A: Hollywood and its obsession with post-baby bodies (think Jessica Simpson).

Exhibit B: the mountains of advice on what to eat when pregnant.

It would seem to me that there is a lot of fear mongering going on out there. As a society in general, we seem to scare so much easier nowadays. And it seems like everything is bad for you. It’s extremely easy to be taken in by the constant barrage from the media, magazines and mommy friends.

When it comes to eating, some of the advice can seem downright unrealistic for us mere mortals to sustain. I mean seriously folks? Have you looked at “Eating Well When You’re Expecting”? I have. Twice. Once when I bought it and once just now to make sure that it was as crazy as I remembered it. If “Food, Inc.” hasn’t put the fear of eating into you, this book surely will. I remember thinking that I’d need to stop working full-time in order to simply find the time to source all the right ingredients to prepare all those fantastically healthy pregnancy meals. I confess here that until I got pregnant, I thought a pulse was something my doctor took; not a food sub-group. I’m sure that you’ve all gathered from that last sentence that I have never been what you might call “a healthy eater”. I often joke that I was brought up on the following four food groups: take-in; take-out; frozen; and canned.

I was born in a decade when lead-based paints were still used on children’s toys. And yes, of course, as Maya Angelou says, “When we know better, we do better.” And I did make certain concessions while pregnant. For instance, I severely limited tuna (mercury) and deli meats (nitrates). I stopped eating sprouts (the one vegetable thingie I actually like) for fear of something I can barely pronounce let alone spell. I took my folic acid, calcium tablets and pregnancy vitamins. I even went out and bought a blender thinking that I would make myself all sorts of healthy fruit smoothies. I used it once and then discovered that I don’t like to drink my breakfast.

My solution to eating better turned out to be rather simple. Eating things that look like actual food (i.e. not processed) was a great start. Also, I checked out those lists online about foods a person should be buying organic and those you don’t need to. I continue to only buy pesticide-free rice and hormone-free meat and eggs.

Make sustainable changes

I felt overwhelmed with the number of “diets” for pregnancy that I came across. By the way, these are two words that I feel should never be used in the same sentence! But like anything else, I had to find a way to make manageable changes that were sustainable instead of making sweeping changes that, like ill-conceived New Year’s resolutions, would inevitably lead to feelings of failure

Was I perfect? No. But I was happy.

“If you’re at a healthy weight, you need no additional calories in the first trimester, about 300 extra calories a day in the second trimester, and about 450 extra calories a day in the third trimester. If you’re overweight or underweight, you’ll need more or less than this depending on your weight gain goal.”
- BabyCenter.com

Read the entire article

Additional Medical Information

Eating for two doesn’t mean that you eat twice as much as you normally eat. Instead, it means choosing to eat food that is right for your health. Pregnant women may eat normal food in the first three months of pregnancy according to the calories required per day. In the last six months of pregnancy, the calorie intake should increase by 300 calories a day. With regards to eating deep-sea fish, dietitians recommend that you may eat these fish but do not eat the same fish all the time.

Avoid seafood high in mercury
Seafood can be a great source of protein, and the omega-3 fatty acids in many fish can promote your baby’s brain development. However, some fish and shellfish contain potentially dangerous levels of mercury. Too much mercury could damage your baby’s developing nervous system. The old and larger the fish, the more mercury it’s likely to contain. Fish to watch out for include swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tile-fish.

How to Calculate Calories Burned Per Day (Non pregnancy)
For females, the BMR formula is: BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years).

Learn more at how to calculate calories burned per day.

Thitiporn Chanawangsa, Dietitian


Eating Organically in Thailand:

My name is Jodie. I'm a 38 year old Canadian working and living in Bangkok, Thailand. My husband and I are both international teachers - though I'm taking this year off to be a full-time mom.

When we're not busy with other people's kids, we try our hand at raising our own very curious nearly four year old son and his 9 and half month old brother. When it comes to parenting, like most of us, I’m making a lot of it up as I go along .

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