A healthy diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle at any time, but especially vital if you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy. Healthy eating keeps you feeling good and gives your baby the essential nutrients they need in the womb. To maintain a healthy pregnancy, approximately 300 extra calories are needed each day. These calories should come from a balanced diet of protein, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Sweets and fats should be kept to a minimum. A healthy, well-balanced diet can also help to reduce some pregnancy symptoms, such as nausea and constipation.
A healthy diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle at any time, but especially vital if you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy. Healthy eating keeps you feeling good and gives your baby the essential nutrients they need in the womb.
Overall, aim for a balanced diet, with an appropriate blend of all the 5 food groups:
1. vegetables and legumes
2. breads and cereals
3. milk, yoghurt and cheese
4. meat, poultry, fish and alternatives
Aim to drink plenty of water every day — most town water contains fluoride, which helps your growing baby’s teeth develop strong enamel. Some water supplies, such as tank water, do not have fluoride.
Fruit and vegetables
Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables because these provide vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre, which helps digestion and prevents constipation. Eat a variety of fruit and vegetables a day — these can be fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced. Always wash them carefully. Cook vegetables lightly in a little water, or eat them raw but well washed, to get the benefit of the nutrients they contain.
Starchy foods (carbohydrates)
Starchy foods are an important source of vitamins and fibre, and are satisfying without containing too many calories. They include bread, potatoes, breakfast cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, maize, millet, oats, sweet potatoes, yams and cornmeal. These foods should be the main part of every meal. Eat wholemeal instead of processed (white) varieties when you can.
Foods containing protein help the baby grow. Sources of protein include meat (but avoid liver), fish (however, avoid fish that is high in mercury such as shark/flake, marlin or broadbill/ swordfish), poultry, eggs, beans, legumes/beans and nuts. Eat some protein every day. Choose lean meat, remove the skin from poultry, and cook it using only a little fat.
Try to eat 2 portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily fish such as sardines or mackerel.
Dairy foods such as milk, curd, buttermilk and yogurt are important because they contain calcium and other nutrients that your baby needs. Choose reduced-fat varieties wherever possible.
If you get hungry between meals, don’t eat snacks that are high in fat and/or sugar, such as sweets, biscuits, crisps or chocolate. Instead, choose from the following nutritious snacks:
• sandwiches or pitta bread filled with grilled chicken, mashed tuna, salmon or sardines and salad
• salad vegetables, such as carrot, celery or cucumber
• apricots, figs or prunes
• vegetable and bean soups
• unsweetened breakfast cereals, or porridge, with milk
• milky drinks or unsweetened fruit juices without filteration
• fresh fruit
• nuts and dry fruits
Foods to limit
When you are pregnant, you should reduce your intake of:
• foods that are high in sugar, such as chocolate, biscuits, pastries, ice-cream, cake, puddings and soft drinks. Sugar contains calories without providing any other nutrients, and can contribute to weight gain, obesity and tooth decay
• foods that are high in fat, such as all spreading fats (including butter), oils, salad dressings and cream. Fat is very high in calories, and eating more fatty foods is likely to make you put on weight.
• foods that contain added salt. Don’t add salt in cooking or at the table
• alcohol: There is no safe level of alcohol during your pregnancy. Whether you are planning a pregnancy, already pregnant or breastfeeding, not drinking is the safest option as alcohol can harm your unborn baby
Essential nutrients for Pregnant Women
Here are some of the essential nutrients that will help you and your baby thrive. They’re found in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, dairy products, and lean meats. Your doctor may also recommend a daily prenatal multivitamin with iron.
Calcium helps build strong bones and teeth, and plays an important role in helping the circulatory, muscular, and nervous systems work properly. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should get 1,000 mg of calcium a day. Healthy sources of calcium include low-fat dairy products, calcium-fortified orange juice and milk-alternatives, cereals, and kale.
Eating carbohydrates helps provide energy to support the growth and development of a baby and, after delivery, breastfeeding. The best sources of carbs are whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, which also are good sources of fiber. Try to limit refined carbs — like white flour and white rice — and added sugars.
Fiber is a nutrient that can help ease the constipation that’s common during pregnancy. Whole grains (like whole-wheat bread, whole-grain cereals, and brown rice) and fruits, vegetables, and legumes (beans, split peas, and lentils) are good sources of fiber.
Folic acid helps with the development of a baby’s brain and spinal cord. It’s also needed to make red blood cells and white blood cells. Women who get at least 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) of folic acid daily before conception and during early pregnancy can reduce the risk that their baby will be born with a neural tube defect (a birth defect involving incomplete development of the brain and spinal cord).
Pregnant women should get 600 micrograms (0.6 milligrams) of folic acid during the second and third trimesters. Breastfeeding women need 500 micrograms (0.5 milligrams). Good sources of folic acid include fortified breads and cereals. Folate is the natural form of this vitamin and is found in leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, avocados, lentils, and beans.
Fat is an important part of any healthy diet. During pregnancy, fat is needed to support your baby’s growth and development. Choose healthy fats (unsaturated fats) and limit unhealthy saturated and trans fats. Healthy fats are found in olive oil, canola and other vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, avocados, and fatty fish like salmon.
Iodine helps the body’s thyroid gland make hormones that help with growth and brain development. Not getting enough iodine during pregnancy can put a baby at risk for thyroid problems, developmental delays, and learning problems. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should use iodized salt in their cooking and eat foods high in iodine, like seafood and dairy products. They also should take a daily prenatal vitamin that includes 150 micrograms of iodide (a source of iodine that’s easily absorbed by the body).
Eating a diet rich in iron and taking a daily iron supplement while pregnant or breastfeeding helps prevent iron-deficiency anemia. Women who don’t get enough iron may feel tired and have other problems. Good dietary sources of iron include lean meats, poultry, and fish, fortified cereals, legumes (beans, split peas, and lentils), and leafy green vegetables.
Protein helps build a baby’s muscles, bones, and other tissues, and supports growth, especially in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Pregnant women need more protein than women who are not pregnant but should not use protein supplements, like shakes and powders. Healthy sources of protein include lean meat, poultry, fish, beans, nuts and nut butters, eggs, and tofu.
Vitamin A helps develop a baby’s heart, eyes, and immune system. Vitamin A deficiency is rare in developed countries, but too much vitamin A can cause birth defects. Prenatal vitamins should not contain more than 1,500 micrograms (5,000 international units) of vitamin A and pregnant women should not take vitamin A supplements. Good sources of vitamin A include milk, orange fruits and vegetables (such as cantaloupe, carrots, and sweet potatoes), and dark leafy greens.
Vitamin B12 plays an important role in the formation of a baby’s red blood cells, as well as brain development and function. Vitamin B12 is found in animal products like meat, fish, milk, and eggs, and fortified products, like cereal and non-dairy milk alternatives.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium for healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin D is made when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Good food sources of vitamin D include fortified low-fat or fat-free milk, fortified orange juice, egg yolks, and salmon. Experts recommend that pregnant and breastfeeding women get 600 international units of vitamin D daily.
Fruits to Avoid During Pregnancy:
• Papaya – It tops the list for obvious reasons. Raw or semi ripe papaya contains latex which can induce premature contractions and that can be dangerous for your baby. However, ripe papaya is rich in vitamins and iron. Consuming it in controlled quantity will possess no harm but totally avoid eating an unripe papaya during pregnancy.
• Pineapple – These are also not recommended to the pregnant women as they contain certain enzymes that alters the texture of cervix which could induce premature contractions. This can result in miscarriage. Apart from inducing such effect, it is also notorious for causing diarrhea and that can be very uncomfortable during pregnancy.
• Grapes – Grapes aren’t recommended for consumption during the final trimester. They are known to generate heat in the body which is not good for both mother and the child. Avoid consuming too much grapes during your pregnancy to stay clear of any complications.
These are some fruits which shouldn’t be a part of your fruit bowl if you are pregnant. Some fruits which are harmless for pregnant mothers are:
Fruit to Include in Pregnancy Diet
• Watermelon– Rich in water content, helps maintaining electrolyte balance.
• Bananas– Rich in carbohydrates, prevents anemia and helps maintaining colon health.
• Oranges– Keeps you hydrated and are rich in Vitamin C.
• Avocados- Rich in healthy fats and contains folate which promotes healthy growth of the newborn baby brain in fetus. They are also rich in vitamin K, vitamin B, fibre, magnesium and potassium.
• Apples– Rich in fibre, vitamins and potassium.
HOW HEALTHY DIET CAN HELP YOU…!!!
When you are pregnant, it’s a period of great celebration, and also of great change! You have to prepare yourself to deal with plenty of upcoming changes in your body, emotions and moods, and lifestyle and diet. Pregnancy comes with numerous food cravings, and you have to know what is safe to eat, and what isn’t. Eating salads which include veggies that provide essential nutrients like, iron, calcium, and folate can do wonders for the health of a pregnant woman. If you include legumes, meat you can meet your protein requirements, and keep your hunger satiated for a long period of time.