Eating for a Healthy Pregnancy

Standards for nutrition in the U.S. are set by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences (the NAS). The NAS is a private, non-profit society chartered by the U.S. Congress to advise the government on scientific and technical matters. As new scientific information is discovered, the NAS revises its recommendations accordingly, based on advice from panels of experts.

An unbalanced focus on specific nutrients is foolhardy. The term, synergy, may apply here. Synergy is the concept that the whole of something is more than the simple sum of its parts. Good nutrition is the synergistic effect of a variety of healthy food choices. The “magic bullet” approach to nutrition is unsound. Focusing on specific nutrients may over-emphasize a misconception that singular food choices (even pills) can accurately target changes in health. As you read the following information, take the fragmented facts and blend them together.

Calories- Energy Requirements
The average woman needs additional Calories in her diet to meet the increased metabolic demands of pregnancy. However, because of the more limited demand in the first trimester of pregnancy, no additional Calories are needed until the second trimester. A fetus in the 13th week of pregnancy (the end of the first trimester) is less than 3 inches long (about 75 mm) from the crown of the head to the rump. The fetus has been a parasite of the mother for all its nutritional needs up to this point. In the second and third trimesters, an additional 300 Calories/day is recommended.

300 Calories is approximately the amount in:

  • 3 apples, or
  • 3 bananas, or
  • two 8 oz. glasses of whole milk, or
  • a cup of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran and 8 oz. of milk, or
  • one regular McDonald’s cheeseburger


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