Are you stressed about maintaining a proper diet now that your baby is on the way?
With so much conflicting information floating around, it can be very difficult to make up your mind. You are likely to receive tons of advice from a wide range of sources, like your friends and family, on what is considered healthy during pregnancy.
To lessen your stress, attached below is a list of what to eat during pregnancy. These foods are simple, yet they can help you get the well-balanced diet you and your baby needs.
Why is it important?
Eating the right foods during your pregnancy is extremely important for the simple reason that you are now eating for two. An improper diet can adversely affect the development of the fetus, physically and mentally.
While weight loss during pregnancy is generally not advised, it’s also not a good idea to gain so much weight. It can lead to gestational diabetes and other complications.
What To Eat During Pregnancy
As a pregnant woman, you need to ensure that your diet plan contains sufficient minerals, vitamins and other nutrients to supplement the growth of your baby as well as the changes your body has to go through.
Here are some examples:
Eggs are just great. For something that is not very high in calories, they sure pack a punch. They contain vitamins A and D, calcium, iron, potassium and even proteins.
A single egg has around 6 grams of protein, which play a critical role inside the human body. Since every cell is made up of protein, its sufficient intake is crucial for the growth of the baby and your own body.
Eggs are also rich in choline, which promotes your baby’s brain development. They can also reduce the risk of neural tube defects.
However, there are two things you need to be careful of when consuming eggs during pregnancy.
Eggs yolks are high in cholesterol, so you need to monitor your total cholesterol intake and adjust eggs in your diet accordingly. Also, always remember to cook your eggs thoroughly to avoid salmonella infection.
We all know that salmon is a great source of high-quality protein which plays an important role in the baby’s development. Salmon is also an oily fish that is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Most diets, including those of pregnant women, lack omega-3 fatty acids and have an abundance of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. This imbalance can predispose them to cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and autoimmune disorders.
This makes the intake of omega-3 acids essential during pregnancy. Apart from that, the acids help promote the development of the brain and eyes of the fetus, too.
Due to the presence of mercury in fish, it is recommended to limit their intake to 340 grams per week during pregnancy. Salmon has the minimum concentration of mercury and is generally considered to be a safe option.
Yogurt is made up of dairy and has all of the nutritional benefits of milk. It is also rich in calcium, which is essential in growing strong bones and teeth. Calcium is critical for a healthy heart, muscles, and the blood clotting process, too.
Women need around 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily during pregnancy and after the baby is born. It reduces the risk of pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia. Yogurt also contains probiotics, which are good bacteria that benefit the digestive system.
During pregnancy, your digestive tract slows down to increase the amount of nutrition absorbed from foods. This can lead to constipation and increased risk of hemorrhoids. So, make sure to add yogurt into your pregnancy diet.
However, be wary of packaged yogurt products that contain high amounts of sugar as they can cause excess weight gain during pregnancy.
Lean meats, such as chicken, are excellent sources of protein, iron, choline and vitamins.
During pregnancy, your body requires twice as much iron to facilitate the increase in blood volume. Iron is used to make hemoglobin and helps move oxygen around the body and to the baby.
Iron is an essential mineral and is necessary for fetal and placental growth during pregnancy. When there’s not enough iron, a woman becomes at risk of premature delivery as well as giving birth to a child with autism.
A diet that includes lean meats will help increase the amount of iron in a pregnant woman’s body. However, it can be difficult to get the recommended daily dose (27 milligrams) from lean meats alone, especially for those women who develop an aversion to meat during pregnancy.
Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A, C, dietary fiber, potassium and vitamin B-6. Pregnant women require 700 milligrams of vitamin A daily and sweet potatoes have 1922 milligrams of vitamin A per cup. One serving is more than enough to satisfy the daily requirement.
Apart from vitamin A, it also contains vitamin C, which is essential for the absorption of iron and the growth of the baby.
As mentioned before, the digestive system slows down during pregnancy which can cause certain problems. The fiber present in sweet potatoes can help improve digestion and reduce the risk of constipation. Also, vitamin B-6 can limit morning sickness.
Sweet potatoes, however, should be consumed in moderation as excessive levels of vitamin A are associated with birth defects.
On making substitutes
Pregnancy can make food choices extremely difficult, especially with all those cravings and aversions. To make sure that you receive proper nutrition while satisfying your cravings for certain foods, you need to pick healthier substitutes.
If you feel like having a hot beverage on a cold winter night, go for a raspberry leaf tea instead of coffee. Feeling down and need some ice cream? Have a cup of frozen yogurt with berries on top. Want something sweet? Have a piece of dark chocolate rather than regular chocolate.
If you have an aversion for meat, try lentils or spinach to load up on your iron reserves. Also remember to take your pre-natal vitamins to ensure maximum nutritional support during pregnancy.