Nutrition during pregnancy: what should pregnant women eat?

A pregnant woman sits on the sofa and eats cereal

Expectant mamas should not eat for two, but simply varied and healthy -nutrition in pregnancy is not as complicated as many think. The only difficult question: what can I eat as a pregnant woman and which foods are taboo?

Contents at a glance

In pregnancy, few things are as important as proper nutrition. Because the need for minerals and vitamins increases sharply during pregnancy. If certain nutrients are missing, it can affect the child’s development. That’s reason enough to replace potato chips and chocolate cream with whole wheat bread and Greek yogurt. However, exactly what healthy eating looks like during pregnancy and what foods pregnant women should steer clear of is often not clear.

What should be the diet during pregnancy?

With few exceptions, the same dietary recommendations apply to pregnant women as to non-pregnant women. With vegetables and fruit you may take a hearty bite. When it comes to chocolate, cookies and Co. If you can’t do it, you’d better say no more often. And with bread or pasta, the whole-grain varieties are healthier than those with white flour.

Your nutrition plan at a glance:

Lots of fresh vegetables, lettuce and fruit: this also includes juices and soups. Very important: Wash fruits, vegetables and lettuce well under running water!

Daily whole food: For example, bread, pasta or rice.

Daily dairy products: They contain calcium, protein and numerous vital substances that promote the healthy development and bone formation of the baby. Three portions spread over the day are ideal, such as two slices of cheese, a glass of milk and a cup of yogurt or cottage cheese.

Meat and fish: 300 to 600 grams of low-fat meat or sausage each week and two servings of fresh sea fish, at least once of which should be a high-fat type of fish such as salmon or mackerel. Fatty sea fish is an excellent source of protein and provides iodine and valuable omega-3 fatty acids.

Fats and sweets should be eaten sparingly: only two tablespoons of butter or cream daily. Do not eat salt and sugar too often either. Nutrition experts recommend a maximum of one small serving of candy or snack product per day.

Spread your food out over five small meals a day – this will help prevent heartburn and nausea during pregnancy. Also, don’t forget to drink enough. It should be at least one and a half liters of liquid per day. In addition to (calcium-rich) water, unsweetened fruit and herbal teas are best. But you can also drink coffee during pregnancy. Up to three cups a day are considered harmless.

What services does the AOK offer for nutrition counseling?

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What not to eat and drink as a pregnant woman?

During pregnancy, you should stay away from the following foods in any case, because they can cause serious harm to your baby

Even small amounts can harm the unborn child and lead to abnormal development. This is why alcohol is absolutely taboo during pregnancy! Note that some foods and dishes may also contain alcohol.

Raw fish, meat or dairy products may contain dangerous bacteria, for example listeria. They can harm the unborn child and lead to premature birth or stillbirth. If a pregnant woman is infected for the first time with toxoplasmosis, an infectious disease caused by raw meat, the unborn child can also be severely harmed. Therefore, the rule is: cook all meat dishes completely through. And refrain from eating anything raw or smoked. Not only Mettwurst, raw ham, carpaccio and ground pork, but also salami and liver sausage are taboo during pregnancy. However, cooked sausages such as bologna, mortadella and cooked ham are allowed.

Fish should also always be cooked through. Avoid sushi, sashimi and oysters. Cold-smoked or pickled fish products, such as trout, salmon or herring, are also on the red list of foods to eat during pregnancy.

Do not eat any cheeses labeled "raw milk" or "pre-milk," for example soft cheeses or semi-soft cheeses like Camembert. Soft cheeses made from pasteurized milk and hard cheeses, on the other hand, can be eaten without hesitation. But say no to red mold cheeses like Esrom, Handkase or Tilsiter as well as rasp cheese from the refrigerated counter.

When preparing eggs and egg dishes, make sure they are well cooked, because raw eggs can contain salmonella. Caution: Raw eggs are often found in homemade dishes such as tiramisu, chocolate mousse, mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce or ice cream. Industrially manufactured products, on the other hand, are safe because they contain only pasteurized eggs that have been sufficiently heated.

They are not only sweet and contain unhealthy additives, but also too much caffeine for pregnant women. Therefore, drink a maximum of two small glasses of cola daily. Enjoy quinine-containing drinks, such as tonic water or bitter lemon, only in moderation, if at all. Quinine is a natural plant toxin that, in large amounts, can cause vomiting, vision problems and even premature labor.

It is one of the doubtful cases when it comes to nutrition during pregnancy. The reason: experts advise against giving honey to babies under one year of age, as it can contain the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The stomach acid in the body of a pregnant woman quickly kills the bacteria – and thus there is no danger for the unborn child. The numerous trace elements and vitamins make honey a real power food during pregnancy. However, because of the high sugar content, pregnant women should consume only a little of it – a maximum of one teaspoon a day.

Iodine, iron and folic acid: important nutrients during pregnancy

If you eat a varied and balanced diet during pregnancy, your baby will get everything it needs. The micronutrients folic acid, iodine and, in some cases, iron are exceptions to this rule. Folic acid is involved in cell growth and the development of the brain and spinal cord of the unborn child. Iodine deficiency can lead to developmental disorders in the baby.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women are therefore recommended to take 100 to 150 micrograms of iodine daily, as well as 400 micrograms of folic acid in tablet form – ideally four weeks before pregnancy until the end of the first trimester of pregnancy. Experts recommend women who start taking folic acid just before or after fertilization take preparations with higher dosages. Discuss with your doctor. You should also only take iron supplements after consulting your doctor if your iron level is too low.

The AOK supports you before, during and after birth

The AOK offers expectant parents and families numerous services to maintain and promote their health. Find out about suitable offers from your AOK health insurance provider.

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