Healthy Pregnancy Diet
What do you mean by diet, during pregnancy? When we talk about diet during pregnancy, we are not talking about calorie restriction or weight loss. Weight loss during pregnancy may be harmful to you and your unborn child, particularly since some diets restrict key nutrients, such as iron, folic acid, and other vitamins and minerals.
Every parent wants their baby to have the best health and growth possible, and we all know that it starts with food. Nutrition during pregnancy requires special attention, but it shouldn’t overwhelm you. Understanding what to eat during pregnancy shouldn’t cause undue stress.
You should eat a healthy diet during pregnancy that meets the nutritional needs of you and your growing child. As a pregnant woman, you have additional dietary requirements. The nutritional intake of both you and your baby can be maximized by consuming a variety of foods. Eat well during your pregnancy, but it’s not as difficult as you think!
Foods List – You should eat during pregnancy
To ensure that you and your baby receive the nutrients they need, it is essential to eat a variety of foods throughout the day. Check out these food groups and some suggestions for a healthy diet for pregnant women.
Vegetables and Fruits – A variety of fruits and vegetables are packed with essential nutrients for pregnancy, including Vitamin C and Folic Acid. Fruits and vegetables such as oranges, grapefruits, and honeydew, as well as broccoli, tomatoes, and Brussels sprouts, contain Vitamin C, which pregnant women need at least 70 mg of each day.
For the prevention of neural tube defects, 0.4 mg of folic acid is recommended daily. Dark green leafy vegetables are one of the best sources of folic acid (other sources are black and lima beans, black-eyed peas, and veal). Ideally, you should eat 2-4 servings of fruit and 4 or more servings of vegetables each day.
Grains and Bread – During pregnancy, carbohydrates such as breads and grains provide the body with its main source of energy. A variety of nutrients can be found in whole grain products and enriched products, including iron, B vitamins, fiber, and protein. Fortified bread and cereal provide the required amount of folic acid. Your daily bread/grain consumption should range from 6-11 servings (6-11 oz) depending on your weight and dietary needs.
Protein – You can get all of your protein, B vitamins, and iron from meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and beans during pregnancy. Protein is especially important for your developing baby during the second and third trimesters. In addition to carrying oxygen to your growing baby, iron also carries oxygen to your muscles, preventing symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, irritability, and depression.
US RDA recommends about 27 grams per day. Good choices include lean beef, chicken, lamb, liver, turkey, and veal. Within guidelines, seafood can provide good nutritional value during pregnancy. Avoid mercury-containing fish. Consume 3 to 5 servings of protein every day.
Dairy Products – A pregnant woman needs at least 1000 mg of calcium daily. For healthy teeth and bones, regular blood clotting, and normal nerve and muscle function, calcium is essential. If you do not consume enough calcium through your diet while you are pregnant, your body will take it from your bones (leading to future problems, such as osteoporosis).
Milk, cheese, yogurt, cream soups, and puddings are good sources of calcium. Other sources of calcium include green vegetables, seafood, beans, and dried peas. It is recommended that you consume at least four servings of dairy products a day.
A Complement to Nutrition –
Prenatal Vitamins – Although a prenatal vitamin is not the main source of vitamins and nutrients needed during pregnancy, it can help fill in small gaps in case you unintentionally lack certain nutrients. Taking prenatal vitamins up to three months before conception is recommended.
During pregnancy, a prenatal vitamin, or any other supplement, can only complement a healthy diet. If you’re not sure what supplement is right for you, talk to your healthcare provider.
Grains (6 – 11 servings per day)
Carbohydrates and energy are contained in this group of foods. Besides being high in vitamins and minerals, grains also contain fiber, which aids digestion and prevents constipation. Sugar and fat-rich foods should be avoided. Focus on whole grain products such as whole grain bread, cereal, oatmeal, and whole wheat pasta and rice.
1 serving is equal to:
- One whole-grain slice of bread
- Half an English muffin
- 1/2 of a large pita or flatbread
- 1 small tortilla
- 3/4 cup of cold cereal
- 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice, or pasta
Vegetables (at least 4 servings per day)
Healthy pregnancy diets should include colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables also contain a lot of fiber and are low in fat. You can get more nutrients by varying your vegetables and playing with colors! Darker colors provide a larger range of nutrients. The best way to preserve the nutritional value of these foods is to eat them raw, lightly steamed, baked, or sautéed in a little olive oil. Cooking breaks down their nutrients, rendering them useless to your body.
Some of my favorites are…
- Dark-green leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, kale)
- Starchy vegetables (corn, peas, potatoes)
- Vegetables that are deep yellow and orange (carrots, squash, sweet potatoes)
- Legumes (lentils, chick peas, and all types of beans)
1 serving is equals to:
- Almost 1 cup of fresh salad
- 1/2 cup of raw vegetables or cooked vegetables
- 3/4 cup of homemade soup
- 1/2 cup of split peas
- 1/2 cup of chickpeas
Eat fruits twice or four times per day
Fruits are a great source of vitamins and minerals during pregnancy. You can eat fresh, frozen, or dried fruit during this time. Choose whole fruit instead of commercial fruit juices, which have a much higher sugar content.
1 serving is equal to:
- 1 pice apple, banana, orange.
- Approximately 1/2 cup chopped fruit.
- 1 cup fresh fruit juice (not processed).
- 1/4 cup dried fruit like raisins.
Dairy products (3 – 4 servings daily)
A significant amount of calcium and protein is found in dairy products. Make sure that cheese, milk, and yogurt you eat are pasteurized low-fat, skim, or part-skim varieties. Your baby’s bones and teeth will grow stronger with calcium. You need around 1000 milligrams of calcium per day during pregnancy. If you don’t consume enough calcium during pregnancy you are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis later in life, so make sure you include good sources of calcium in your healthy pregnancy diet.
1 serving is equal to:
- A cup of milk or yogurt
- 1 1/2 – 2 oz. cheese that has been pasteurized
- One cup of cottage cheese
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Protein (2 or 3 servings every day)
Proteins in this category include meat as well as meat alternatives. During pregnancy, protein is vital for the growth of your baby and for the growth of uterine tissue. A healthy diet should consist of roughly 20% to 25% protein.
1 serving is equals to:
- 2-3 oz. cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup tofu
- 1 cup cooked legumes
- 4 tablespoons nut butter or 1/4 cup nuts
Misconception About Pregnancy Diet
You may have heard the old saying “Now that you are pregnant, you should be eating for two”? The idea that you should “eat for two” the things is wrong.
During the second trimester and the third trimester, you should increase your calorie intake by 340 calories and 450 calories, respectively. For a better idea, 300 calories are approximately the same as one slice of whole grain bread and two tablespoons of peanut butter OR one avocado. Clearly, we don’t have to eat the mythical double portion. So, let’s eat twice as well, but not twice as much!
10 Things Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy
You may be stressed by a few things during your pregnancy, but eating should not be one of them! You should eat a variety of foods from different food groups, but you should also avoid certain things like:
- Vegetables that have not been washed
- Uncooked shellfish.
- Uncooked meat.
- Any Type of Energy drinks.
- Raw milk and raw cheese.
- Smoked seafood
- Fish with mercury
- Deli meat,
- Raw eggs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Dose Fasting During Pregnancy Cause any Harm ?
Yes, fasting during pregnancy can cause harm. Hypoglycemia (low sugar level) can cause fainting spells and giddiness. Fasting can also affect the health and growth of the developing baby. Consult your doctor if you’re considering fasting during your pregnancy for religious or period reasons.
Are Durians Safe To Eat During Pregnancy ?
Due to its high calorie content and potassium content, durians are not suitable for pregnant women. If you eat them in excessive amounts, you may gain too much weight.
My Cholesterol Levels are High During Pregnancy. Is This a Problem ?
Blood cholesterol levels rise during pregnancy. Since cholesterol is required for the development of the fetus, this is a normal adaptive reaction to pregnancy. Several months after childbirth, cholesterol levels return to normal. High cholesterol levels do not appear to be harmful to the mother or the unborn child.
Although high cholesterol levels are associated with heart disease and stroke in the long run, if your cholesterol level remains high after delivery, we advise you to consider changing your lifestyle. Diets low in cholesterol can be comprised of bread, fruit, vegetables, fish, and olive oil in small quantities. Do not smoke. Have your cholesterol checked regularly.
If I Have Diabetes During Pregnancy ?
Diabetes during pregnancy increases the chances of certain health problems such as high blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia), big baby resulting in difficult delivery, and a higher likelihood of using a cesarean section. Diabetes pre-existing women and those newly diagnosed with diabetes during pregnancy (i.e. gestational diabetes) should monitor their blood sugar levels throughout the pregnancy.
If I Have High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy ?
Medications and a low-salt diet are recommended for women suffering from long-standing essential hypertension (even before pregnancy). The only way to cure hypertension that appears only during pregnancy is through delivery of the baby and placenta.
Are You Underweight During Pregnancy?
Healthy Diet Pyramid for Pregnancy can still be followed if you are underweight before pregnancy or putting on too little weight throughout pregnancy.
- Make sure you consume more of each food group.
- If you unable to consume more food, you can also gain weight by:
- Healthy snacks such as nuts, dried fruits, cheese, and desserts can be eaten between meals.
- You can increase your energy intake from good fats by frying your food in mono- or polyunsaturated oils.
Are You Overweight During Pregnancy ?
Overweight or obese women are more likely to develop diabetes during pregnancy. After delivery, it may be more difficult to shed the extra weight. Consequently, it increases the risk of obesity-related conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
During your pregnancy, you can follow the Healthy Diet Pyramid, but limit your intake of foods from each food group to the lower end of the recommended range, for example, consume six servings of rice and substitutes and two servings of milk and dairy products.
If you are still gaining too much weight,
- Reduce fat intake by cutting out high-fat foods, such as fried foods, coconut milk-based dishes, nuts, fast foods, cakes, biscuits, and pastries, and switching to skim milk or non-fat dairy products.
- Reduce your intake of sugary foods and beverages, such as sweets, sweet desserts, and sweet drinks. Whenever you’re thirsty, drink plain water, and after a meal, have fresh fruit instead of dessert.
- You should increase your fluid intake. Consume eight glasses of fluid a day (including two glasses of skimmed milk). A glass of water or a bowl of non-cream soup before meals will also help you feel full and reduce your appetite.
- Remember, you should not diet while pregnant in order to lose weight.
Your goal should be to eat healthily and maintain your rate of weight gain to make sure your baby and you both receive optimal nutrition.
- It is recommended to drink weight-gain-oriented nutritional supplement drinks, such as Nutren Optimum, Enercal Plus, Resource, Fortijuice.
- Talk to your doctor if you’re worried about your weight.