Pregnancy is a delicate time that requires a lot of care. A woman who is expecting must be careful about what she does and eats, with nutrition featuring among the top priorities. There are plenty of foods that expectant mothers are instructed to eat, and even more that they’re advised to avoid. Wholesome food is crucial, making your pregnancy diet extremely important. After all, it has to meet your energy requirements and fulfil the body’s nutrient demands.
But the food you eat also provides the basic building blocks for the growth and development of your baby. You both need more iron, protein, calcium, minerals and folic acid. Remember that eating for two doesn’t necessarily mean eating twice the amount, but maintaining a healthy diet that is suitable for both you and your baby.
Be cautious about getting enough nutrition, but there’s no need to double the intake. According to most doctors, pregnant women should get about 300 calories more per day than they did pre-pregnancy, which is not to say you should add 300 calories of any old food. Check out what the experts recommend to keep you and your unborn baby healthy and happy.
• Eat breakfast every day, and make sure it includes a variety of foods that provide the necessary nutrients – fibre-rich cereals, vegetables, and things like peanut butter or cheese on toast for protein.
• Eat/drink at least four servings of dairy and calcium-rich foods per day. The mineral strengthens your bones as well as your baby’s, reducing the risk of osteoporosis later in your lives.
• To stave off fatigue and depression, get at least three daily servings of iron-rich foods. Greens, pulses, raisins, egg yolks, and fish make for great options. To enhance absorption and boost your immunity, eat them with vitamin C-rich foods like oranges, bean sprouts, strawberries and tomatoes.
• One of the most important things to watch during pregnancy is your folic acid intake. Add a helping of black beans or chickpeas to your meals, as the folic acid they contain is known to help prevent birth defects and deformities.
• Consume plenty of fibre to minimise the constipation caused by an increase in hormones. Whole-grain products work best, as do high-fibre cereals and tortillas.
• Drink plenty of water, and stay away from packaged juices in favour of the fresh-squeezed variety. The beta carotene in grapes, oranges and carrots is great. Staying hydrated ensures a healthy pregnancy and minimises early labour, constipation and swelling.
• Fat is important for the proper development of your baby’s brain and your own nervous system. A key source of energy, it transports vitamins through your body. We suggest healthy varieties such as nuts, avocados, salmon, and olive and sunflower oils.
• Protein is an important requirement for all of us, but even more so for pregnant women. Good sources include poultry, fish, beans, nuts, eggs and cheese.
• Caffeine in moderation is okay. Though some believe that pregnant women should avoid it completely, one cuppa a day is fine.
• Digestion can also be a problem during pregnancy. Include herbs like fresh mint in salads, and ginger in your food and morning tea. Spices like cumin, cardamom and turmeric, as well as fruits like bananas, apples and papayas, also do the job.
• Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to get your share of vitamins and minerals, along with the fibre your need. These keep your stomach clean.
• Zinc plays an important role in your baby’s development, metabolism and protein synthesis. Some of the best sources of zinc are crabs, lean red meat, fish, ginger, tofu and beans.
• Iodine helps stimulate thyroid hormone, which is necessary for the growth and development of the baby. Seafood, eggs, meat, dairy products and iodised salt are good sources.
• Consult an expert about supplements before you take any. Even if you follow a healthy diet, you may miss out on something. Ask your doctor about something extra your body might need.
• It’s best to avoid certain raw foods like sushi, steak tartare, foie gras or undercooked eggs. Some people even recommend avoiding cakes, biscuits and cookies.
• Fearing the natural weight gain of pregnancy, some women may decide to eat sparingly or diet. Restricted eating in any form can seriously compromise your health and that of your baby, so leave the calorie-cutting for after you give birth.
A pregnant mother needs plenty of stamina and strength to meet the physical demands of carrying and delivering a healthy baby (or babies), so make sure you nourish your body well. Keep your diet healthy and balanced, and everyone wins! ..... Saloni