A healthy diet is an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle. This factor plays a more important role if you are pregnant or planning to have a baby. During pregnancy, healthy eating keeps the expecting mother feeling good and gives the baby the essential nutrients needed in the womb.
Fruits and vegetables are a great source of essential vitamins and minerals. Overall, aim to have a balanced diet, including an adequate blend of all 5 food groups:
- Vegetables and legumes
- Milk, yogurt, and cheese
- Bread and cereals
- Meat, poultry, fish, and alternatives
Foods rich in protein are essential for the baby’s growth. Good sources of protein include meat, fish, chicken, eggs, milk, cheese, nuts, beans and legumes.
Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water each day and have a healthy breakfast daily as it can help you stay full and prevent snacking on fatty and sugary foods.
Adding the following nutrients in the daily diet will ensure that they satisfy the body’s nutritional needs in pregnancy.
Protein is a very important nutrient for the proper growth of the fetal tissue and the brain. It also plays a role in the increased blood supply, by allowing more blood to be sent to the baby.
A pregnant female should eat 3 servings of protein each day. Good sources of protein include-
- Peanut butter
- Cottage cheese
- Lean beef
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Calcium helps build the baby’s bones and regulates the use of fluids in the mother’s body.
Pregnant females need at least 3 servings of calcium daily. The recommendation is 5 servings for teen or undernourished mothers. Healthy sources of calcium include:
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Folate or folic acid plays a crucial part in reducing the risk of neural tube defects and can affect the baby’s brain and spinal cord.
During pregnancy, the female needs 600 to 800 micrograms of folate daily. Food sources of folate include:
- Dried beans and Lentils
- Peanut butter
- Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Iron, along with other nutrients including sodium, potassium, and water can increase blood flow. This ensures that enough oxygen is supplied to both you and your baby.
Ideally, a female should be getting 27 mg of iron per day. Good sources of this nutrient include:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Citrus fruits
- Bread or cereals enriched with iron
- Lean beef and poultry
- Dried fruits
Food aversions and Cravings
During pregnancy, many females experience aversions to some foods. An expecting mother may also have cravings for at least 1 type of food, which can be anything, even something she never liked anyway. It is still unclear why females develop such food cravings or aversions during their pregnancy. However, doctors believe that hormones play a role in that.
Common food cravings during pregnancy are:
- Spicy food
- Mashed potatoes
It is perfectly normal and fine to give in to your cravings sometimes, especially if you crave foods that make a healthy diet. However, try to limit the intake of junk and processed food as they are not very healthy or good for the baby.
Food aversions can only be problematic if they include foods that are important for the growth and development of the baby. Consult the doctor if you have any adverse reactions to foods you should be eating during pregnancy. The doctor can suggest other foods or alternatives compensate for the lack of nutrients in the diet.
Foods to limit
Foods to avoid
- Alcohol (Also Read: Smoking and its implications on pregnancy )
- Fish with high levels of mercury
- Unpasteurized food
- Raw meat
Pica is the disorder in which the individual has cravings for items containing no nutritional value. Pregnant females with this disorder may crave clay, cigarette ashes, starch, chalk or other strange substances devoid of any nutrition. When a female has pica during her pregnancy, it may indicate a vitamin or mineral deficiency.
It is important for the female to consult her doctor if she has any troubles in her pregnancy. Even complications or problems that may seem minor to you may be dangerous for the mother and her baby.
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