Second Trimester: How Eating Well Can Benefit You

Let us talk about Second Trimester: How Eating Well Can Benefit You.

Eating a healthy balanced diet during the second trimester is the essential thing you can do for your baby.

The meals you eat are the main source of nourishment for your baby, so it’s important to eat meals that are rich in nutrients. Proper nutrition can aid boost your baby’s growth and development.

What you can eat during your second trimester

A healthy diet consists of:

  • carbohydrates
  • fats
  • proteins
  • vitamins
  • minerals
  • plenty of water

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests that pregnant women choose foods from their five essential food groups.

These five food groups are:

  • vegetables
  • fruits
  • dairy
  • grains
  • proteins

The USDA has a MyPlate Plan for Moms that allows you to calculate how much of each food group you should eat to get the recommended levels of vitamins and minerals.

Essential nutrients

When in your second trimester, it’s mainly essential to eat meals that are rich in calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D. These nutrients will help your baby grow strong bones and teeth.

It’s also helpful to eat foods containing omega-3 oils, which are vital for your baby’s brain development.

Foods that contain one or more of these nutrients include:

  • broccoli
  • green beans
  • avocado
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • Greek yogurt
  • pasteurized cheese
  • sunflower seeds
  • dried fruit
  • peanut butter
  • pumpkin seeds

Tips for healthy eating

It’s important to plan and cook meals at home to ensure you maintain a balanced, good diet. If it’s too hard or time-consuming to cook a meal every night, consider making one or two large dishes each week and freezing portions for quick weeknight meals.

Fresh food is always the preferred option, but there are also some fairly healthy frozen dinner options that you can buy at the store. Make sure to read the labels and only choose dishes that are low in fat and sodium.

Frozen vegetables are another option. Stocking up on these can save you time when you want a quick, healthy meal.

You should limit or avoid consuming a few foods while you’re pregnant, including raw meat, eggs, and certain types of fish.

Seafood

Always avoid eating big fish, such as swordfish, shark, and king mackerel. These fish are recognized to contain high amounts of mercury, a chemical element that can harm your baby.

Try to restrict your intake of other seafood to 8-12 ounces per week, which is considered two to three average meal portions per week. This includes seafood that’s relatively low in mercury, such as:

  • salmon
  • catfish
  • shrimp
  • canned light tuna
  • sardines

Unpasteurized products

Avoid eating any unpasteurized products during pregnancy, as these may have bacteria that can cause infections. This includes unpasteurized milk, milk products, and juices.

Certain soft cheeses are often made with unpasteurized milk and are best avoided unless the label clearly indicates that they’ve been pasteurized or made with pasteurized milk. These include:

  • Brie
  • feta
  • blue cheese
  • queso fresco

Caffeine

It’s okay to drink coffee or other drinks with caffeine while you’re pregnant, but try to limit your consumption to one or two cups per day.

Artificial sweeteners

You may use artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame and sucralose, as long as you consume them in moderation.

Alcohol

Avoid alcohol completely while you’re pregnant. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause congenital disabilities and other complications, including fetal alcohol syndrome.

Daily requirements

Now that you’re more than halfway through your pregnancy, it’s essential to reevaluate your diet.

The Cleveland Clinic recommends:

  • 3 or more servings of whole grains per day
  • 4 or 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day
  • 2 or 3 servings of lean protein per day, or at least 75 grams per day
  • 4 servings of dairy products or foods rich in calcium

You should also ensure you’re:

  • consuming foods with necessary fats
  • restricting your intake of high-fat, high-sugar, and high-sodium foods
  • taking your prenatal vitamins every day

Your doctor can help you create a more specific meal plan based on your age and weight before pregnancy.

Food cravings and food aversions

Many pregnant women encounter cravings for at least one type of food or aversions to particular foods. It’s unclear why women develop food cravings or aversions during pregnancy, but doctors and researchers believe hormones may play a role.

Food cravings

Pregnant women often crave:

  • chocolate
  • spicy foods
  • fruits
  • comfort foods, such as mashed potatoes and cereals

It’s okay to sometimes give in to these cravings, especially if you crave foods that are part of a healthy diet.

Food aversions

Pregnant women can have an aversion to some foods. This implies they never want to eat these particular foods.

This may only be uncertain if women have an aversion to foods such as vegetables or dairy products important for the baby’s growth and development.

Speak to your doctor if you’re having adverse effects on foods that are necessary to a healthy second-trimester diet. Your doctor can suggest other foods to eat or supplements to take to compensate for the lack of certain nutrients in your diet.

Weight gain during the second trimester

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women who are average weight should gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. It’s normal to gain less weight if you start heavier or to gain more weight if you were underweight before pregnancy.

The extra weight you gain during pregnancy nourishes your baby and is also stored for breastfeeding after you have your baby.

Many women become self-conscious about their weight during pregnancy, but the number on the scale is less important than healthy eating. Try to focus on eating a variety of nutritious foods as opposed to your weight.

Dieting to lose weight or prevent weight gain during pregnancy is detrimental to both you and your baby. Try buying new clothes that flatter your figure if you feel self-conscious about the weight you’ve gained.

Staying active

Exercising during pregnancy can also help you manage your weight. You should avoid extreme sports or contact sports, such as water skiing, basketball, or soccer.

If you didn’t exercise before pregnancy, start moderately and don’t overdo it. It’s also important to drink plenty of water during exercise so that you don’t get dehydrated.

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