Nutrition

Healthy Woman - Nutrition

Becoming healthy before becoming pregnant

Pre-conception nutrition is a vital part of preparing for pregnancy. Factors such as a woman's weight compared with her height and what she eats can play an important role in a mother's health during pregnancy and the health of her developing fetus.

Pre-pregnancy weight

A mother's pre-pregnancy weight has a direct influence on her baby's birthweight. Studies show that underweight women are more likely to give birth to small babies, even though they may gain the same amount in pregnancy as normal weight women. Overweight women have increased risks for complications in pregnancy such as gestational diabetes or high blood pressure. Consult your health care provider about whether you need to lose or gain weight before becoming pregnant.

Pre-pregnancy nutrition

Many women do not eat a well-balanced diet before pregnancy and may not have the proper nutritional status for the demands of pregnancy. Generally, a pregnant woman needs to add about 300 extra calories daily to meet the needs of her body and her developing fetus. However, those calories, as well as her entire diet, need to be healthy, balanced, and nutritious.

The Choose My Plate icon is a guideline to help you eat a healthy diet. My Plate can help you eat a variety of foods while encouraging the right amount of calories and fat. The USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have prepared the following food plate to guide you in selecting foods.

The My Plate icon is divided into five food group categories, emphasizing the nutritional intake of the following:

Oils are not a food group, yet some, such as nut oils, contain essential nutrients and can be included in the diet. Others, such as animal fats, are solid and should be avoided.

Exercise and everyday physical activity should also be included with a healthy dietary plan.

To find more information about the Dietary Guidelines for American 2010 and to determine the appropriate dietary recommendations for your age, sex, and physical activity level, visit the Online Resources page for the links to the ChooseMyPlate.gov and 2010 Dietary Guidelines sites. Please note that the My Plate plan is designed for people over the age of 2 who do not have chronic health conditions.

In addition to the My Plate food groups, the following nutrients should be included in a woman's pre-conception diet and continued into pregnancy:

Always consult your health care provider regarding your healthy diet and exercise needs.

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Online Resources of Women's Center

 

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