Second Trimester Diet & Nutrition

As you begin your second trimester of pregnancy, you should refocus your effort to maintain a balanced, healthy diet. As your pregnancy becomes more of a reality, you may find that you often don't have enough time to prepare healthy home-cooked meals. Try to continue to incorporate as many fresh foods as possible. If you select prepared meals, be careful to watch for hidden fat and high sodium content. Frozen vegetables are a good second option, and stocking up on these can save you time when you want a quick, healthy meal.

Weight Gain and Nutrition

Our society is so obsessed with weight that it's impossible to get through a pregnancy without a thought about your appearance as you gain normal pregnancy weight. Healthy eating is incredibly important, and dieting to lose weight or prevent weight gain during pregnancy is detrimental to both you and the baby. Buy flattering clothes, focus on the good you're doing for your baby, and be assured the weight will come off after your baby is born.

Cravings and Food Aversions

Studies show most pregnant women experience cravings for at least one type of food and most also have a particular food aversion. Hormones may play a role, but there is also a strongly held belief that food cravings and aversions are some primordial way for a woman's body to signal a need for a particular nutrient or to avoid a potentially harmful food substance. Though this theory may be true, these signals aren't necessarily reliable and don't seem to follow any particular nutritional pattern. It may be necessary to give in to these cravings at times, but it is hoped that the craving can be partially met with healthy foods, rather than junk foods. If you have an aversion to coffee, alcohol, or ice cream, it may be helpful. But if your aversion is to green leafy vegetables or milk, it may be more problematic since these contain important nutrients for a growing baby.

Quick, Healthy Meals

If you're finding it hard to get the energy up to cook, consider making one or two large dishes each week and freezing portions for quick weeknight meals. These may also come in handy when the rest of the family wants fast food or pizza, and you want to eat a healthy meal. There are also a number of healthier, frozen dinner options on the market now. Look for dishes that are low in fat and sodium.

Reevaluate Your Diet

Now that you're more than halfway through your pregnancy, it may be time to reevaluate your diet. Are you getting roughly 60 grams or two servings of protein per day? Are you eating nine or more servings of whole grains and seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables-especially green leafy vegetables? Are you eating some foods with essential fatty acids, but limiting the amount of high-fat, high-sugar, and high-salt foods? Are you taking your prenatal vitamins daily? Where are the deficiencies for you? Are there tasty foods you can add to your diet to make up for these deficiencies? After all, your pregnancy is only the beginning of paying attention to nutrition-soon you'll have a child that you'll be responsible for feeding. Making healthy food choices starts with you. (Source: The National Women's .)

In 2004, a joint consumer advisory committee consisting of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (FDA/EPA) issued guidelines about the recommended consumption of fish. They warned that women who are or may become pregnant and those who are breastfeeding should avoid eating large, game fish (including swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tile fish) which are known to contain relatively high amounts of mercury. The panel also recommended limiting ingestion of most seafood to 12 ounces per week, which is considered to be two average meal portions per week. These recommendations include seafood that is categorized as relatively low in mercury and includes: shrimp, salmon, pollock, catfish, and canned, light tuna. In addition, the committee recommended that of those 12 ounces per week, no more than six ounces should be canned Albacore (white) tuna which has been found to contain significantly more mercury than canned, chunk light tuna.

The Stomach Flu

Aside from normal nausea, it's possible that at some time during your pregnancy you may fall ill with gastroenteritis ("stomach flu"). This is generally caused by a viral infection and is not actually the flu. Usually these illnesses are very short-lived, lasting 24 hours to three days.

The most important thing for anyone who gets gastroenteritis is to stay hydrated. If you're very nauseated, try taking very small sips of liquids and waiting 10 minutes in between sips, and then increasing the frequency of sips as you're able to tolerate it. Water works well, but soups and tea are also good. Diluted juices can also work, or sucking on ice cubes and chips. As you start to improve, begin to add foods slowly, eating bland foods like toast, white rice, bananas, and applesauce. Make sure to take vitamins if you think you can keep them down. Don't worry if you don't eat much for a day or two-there won't be any risk to the baby.

Call your physician to describe your illness to him; he may want you to go to an urgent care center. At the urgent care center, the doctor will examine you to make sure you aren't too dehydrated and to exclude other possible causes of your symptoms.