We all know the jokes about strange cravings like pickles and ice cream during pregnancy, but your diet is even more important than usual now. The options can seem endless and the advice overwhelming, but eating right when expecting is simpler than you think.

What to eat. A varied diet is important as you’ll need even more types of nutrients than usual. Expand your diet to meet its new needs. Get protein and iron from meat and meat alternatives like lentils or beans. When picking meat, make sure to go for lean cuts of meats. Try to get at least 150 grams of cooked fish a week if you can, or if fish isn’t your favorite, you can try eggs, fish oil supplements and EPA and DHA-enriched foods.

Eat more vegetables of a wide variety of colours. One useful trick is to pair dark green veggies like spinach and broccoli with orange counterparts like carrot and squash. Don’t neglect grains like rice and bread, but try to go for whole grain varieties.

A varied diet makes a huge difference, but can only take you so far. Talk with your health care provider and figure out the best daily prenatal multivitamin for you. It should have 16 to 20 mg of iron and 0.4 mg of folic acid, two of the most important vitamins for expectant mothers.

Foods to avoid. Play it safe, even as you expand your diet. Some foods that you were used to eating before carry a higher risk of bacterial contamination, which can be dangerous to you and your baby during pregnancy.

These foods include:

  • Raw fish, especially shellfish such as oysters and clams
  • Undercooked meat, poultry and seafood
  • Hot dogs, non-dried deli-meats, refrigerated pâté, meat spreads and refrigerated smoked seafood and fish
  • All foods made with raw or lightly cooked eggs (for example, homemade Caesar vinaigrette)
  • Unpasteurized milk products and foods made from them, including soft and semi-soft cheeses such as Brie or Camembert
  • Unpasteurized juices, such as unpasteurized apple cider
  • Raw sprouts, especially alfalfa sprouts

On the flip side, a little processing is necessary for things like juice. Avoid unpasteurized juices and apple ciders. There is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant, or planning to be pregnant.

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