A good diet during pregnancy has a direct impact upon our baby’s health and development and also the way we feel, keeping us fit, prepare our body and maintain energy. Don’t change your diet radically, but to provide all essential nutrients to you and your baby it’s requisite to eat a wide range of healthy, nutritious food.
I used to start my day with a breakfast smoothie and almonds. Fresh fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, and adding a dollop of plain yogurt will add protein and calcium. Almonds are great source of folic acid (Vitamin B9) required for neurological development for your baby and prevents many birth defects. It’s also rich in dietary fibers, relieving you from constipation in first few months.
My gynecologist advised to cut back on the amount of refined, processed and fried food, which relieved me from morning sickness. Fresh fruits and veggies, whole grain bread, pasta, brown rice, nuts, seeds, legumes (like chickpeas and lentils) are all nutritious as their vitamins and minerals content is not reduced by processing. Eating more natural whole food encourages healthy weight gain and minimizes consumption of additives and chemicals, often present in processed food, which could harm baby’s development.
Iron is essential in pregnancy to help your red blood cells transport oxygen around your body and through the placenta to your baby. Also required to produce bones, cartilage and connective tissue. Along with supplements, eggs are rich in iron, omelets can be a choice for a quick meal. For vegan, dried fruits, nuts, oats, legumes are rich source but harder to absorb. So, you can add up taking them with Vitamin C rich foods (citrus fruits like oranges, tomatoes, broccoli, berries, mangoes and kiwi fruit) which promotes absorption of iron. It is also required for building baby’s immune system.
Then Calcium, should be enough in your diet, otherwise your baby will use stores from your own bones, putting you at risk of osteoporosis (thinning of bone) later. Its essential for building baby’s strong bones and healthy teeth. Best sources are dairy products, soy, leafy green veggies, dried fruits and almonds.
Proteins are the ones you simply can’t do without and you can get from plant as well as animal sources. They are building blocks for your baby’s growth. Fish, eggs, dairy, legumes, quinoa, beans, whole grains and seeds. You can mix and match different forms within meals to ensure balanced diet.
Healthy fats are required for baby’s brain — like omega oils or essential fatty acids (Nuts, seeds and oily fish), monosaturated fats (olives, olive oil, nuts and nuts butter, avocados), polyunsaturated fats (nuts and seeds, soy beans, nuts and seeds). Avoid “trans fats” that are “hydrogenized”, like found in baked cakes and cookies which can lead to obesity.
Leafy salad greens (like spinach) are rich source of iron. Boiling veggies reduces vitamin contents, so try to steam them to preserve essential nutrients. Purchase lactose free dairy products or add calcium supplements, if you are lactose intolerant. Yogurt, aged cheese like cheddar, buttermilk are more easily tolerated. Go for gluten free diet, if you are sensitive to wheat; rice, corn, quinoa, different forms of millet, will provide you with the nutrients you need. Along with this, high doses of folic acid supplements for at least 12 weeks of pregnancy to be taken for reduction of risk of spina bifida, miscarriage and cleft lip/ palate.
So, buckle up mommies- to-be, have unrefined carbs, go for wide variety of fruits and veggies in an array of different colors to get greatest number of nutrients. Avoid unripe and unwashed fruits. Make your snacks delicious with berries, bananas, apples high in antioxidants and useful vitamins. Introduce more and more fibers in your diet, like quick oatmeal, for regular bowel movements and absorption of essential nutrients. If you can, eat eggs and lean meal which are gold standards for proteins. Don’t eat for two!! just eat healthy. Your appetite is probably the best guide to how much food you need. Eat whenever you are hungry, choose the right foods and you shouldn’t have to worry about counting calories. Don’t starve yourself, like I get along boxes of nuts and fruits while at work for consuming in between breaks. Stay hydrated! Eat little and often, can help in maintaining steady blood glucose levels and sustains your energy throughout the day and ease nausea and dizziness. Like a small snack before bed encourages restful sleep and prevents nausea in morning. By making positive changes in your lifestyle, you can protect yourself and give your baby the best possible healthy start.