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If you're not already taking a daily prenatal vitamin, talk to your doctor or midwife about getting started on one. Prenatal vitamins, taken as directed, help you get the extra nutrients you need that you may not be able to get from food alone, especially if you eat few fruits and vegetables and drink no milk.
Don't expect a vitamin supplement to substitute for poor eating habits, though. It's important to get your nutrients from food as much as possible. It's also important for you to gain a certain amount of weight. Gain too little and you'll put yourself and your baby at risk for complications such as preterm birth.
Following a balanced diet during pregnancy can be difficult, but eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is important. Try some of the following suggestions for adding these nutrient-packed foods to your daily diet. You may find options that make fruits, vegetables, and even milk more palatable for you.
- Add diced vegetables to soups, casseroles, spaghetti sauce, and scrambled eggs. Make the dices very small and they may be easier for you to enjoy. Try sliced veggies on sandwiches.
- Roast vegetables (for example, carrots, sweet potatoes, peppers, zucchini) along with whatever entrée is in the oven. Roasting sweetens the taste of vegetables and changes their consistency, too.
- Prepare quick meals like veggie wraps, stir-fries, and pita pockets loaded with colorful vegetables.
- Make it a goal to have salad with dinner most days. Vary your greens (you may discover one you love), and add a few in-season fresh veggies. Fruit is delicious tossed into salads, too!
- Choose fruit – fresh or frozen, perhaps stewed or baked, or stirred into a cup of yogurt – for dessert.
- Pick your favorite vegetables (for example, baby carrots, or broccoli and cauliflower florets) and dip them in hummus, black bean dip, salsa, or dressing.
- Dunk sliced fruit (for example, apple, banana, pear, strawberries) in yogurt or smear with almond or peanut butter.
- Eat a piece of fruit with cheese or nuts such as walnuts, almonds, pecans, or cashews.
- Make a smoothie or parfait with yogurt and frozen fruit.
Try to get 2 cups of fruit every day, and at least 2 1/2 cups of vegetables, aiming for a variety of dark green vegetables, orange vegetables, beans and peas, and starchy vegetables.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPyramid, you can also count 100 percent fruit juice among your fruit servings, but don't get all of your fruit (or veggies) this way. These drinks are high in calories and give you a lot less fiber than their fresh, whole-food alternatives.
Make sure you consume other fiber-rich foods such as whole grains (whole-wheat breads and pasta, brown rice) and high-fiber cereals. Aim for 20 to 30 grams of fiber each day.
You're not alone in not liking milk, but low-fat or skim milk provides protein, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamin D. Fortunately, there are more options than ever when it comes to milk – including lactose-free, soymilk, nut milks, and rice milks. Even chocolate milk is a good option.
Keep in mind that the nutrients (especially protein and calcium) in these products can vary widely depending on whether they're fortified. Read the labels to maximize your nutrition.
It's also fine to get your calcium and protein from other sources, such as cheese, firm tofu, yogurt, and calcium-enriched orange juice. Rest assured that milk, in and of itself, is not necessary for an adequate prenatal diet.