Diet During Pregnancy: What to Eat & What Not to Eat
While being pregnant can sure be exciting, it also brings upon other kinds of compromises to make in terms of food and diet. Your diet practices tend to get stricter and healthier, while cravings will go unheard. Pregnancy diet is a carefully planned out chart that requires some dieticians and doctors to put a list depending on your weight and dietary requirements. Take a look at what this chart should look like for all expecting mothers.
Generally when a woman is pregnant, everybody has a long list of suggestions and advice for the next few months and yes, the list of the suggestions is quite long. Hence, it is essential for you to know what is healthy for you and your baby and what is not. This article discusses about the healthy diet chart for pregnant women that should be followed during pregnancy.
Importance of Diet and Food for Pregnant Women:
There is a reason why doctors insist on the importance of a perfect pregnancy diet. This does not mean we ask you to lose some calories or weight. This rather means fine tuning the eating habits and substituting with some of the healthiest food options. Every food you eat is also consumed by your baby. That being said, it is necessary to come up with healthy food and supplements to assist the growth and development of your baby. Your diet should be nutrient dense with the right amounts of proteins, carbohydrates and dairy products.
See More: Third Trimester Diet
Pregnancy Diet Chart:
Here are some of the essentials in the making of an ideal pregnancy diet.
Some of the must-haves in the menu are folic acid, iron and fibre. These are essential for health and should not be missed. Make sure your fair share of all the usual nutrients are taken care of in your basic 3 meals namely the breakfast, lunch and dinner. To indulge in the so called essential healthy diet for a pregnant woman, you can bring home foodstuff like juice, brown bread and always drink tea filled with ginger or chamomile. From smoothies to healthy salads, you need to keep those snacks coming every 2-3 hours to keep both yourself and your child full. This leads to healthy development and your child will never be underweight.
1. Dairy Products:
1000 mg of calcium at the least should go into the dairy requirements of a pregnant woman. Calcium is the building block of bones and strong teeth, coupled with muscle and nerve function. Your growing baby will need a lot of calcium to build itself. If the baby does not find this, it will start using your supply of calcium thus creating grave problems for your body.
Choose between low fat evaporated or skimmed milk. As for curd, plan your meal wisely so there is always space for this dairy product. It is rich in all sorts of supplements like potassium, calcium and Vitamin D, and a must have in your diet during pregnancy. Talking of butter, it is not half as healthy a diet during pregnancy as milk and curd, but it should be able to restore your dose of fat. Do make sure you do not overdo it and stick to having butter only twice a week when pregnant.
2. Lean Meat:
Beef and pork are regarded as an excellent source of high-quality protein. They both are rich in iron, choline and vitamin B. All of these are required in required amounts for a healthy pregnancy. Iron in the body is an essential mineral that is used by the red blood cells. It is essential for delivering oxygen to all the cells of your body. Iron becomes even more important in the third trimester as the blood volume increases in the body. Lower levels of iron can lead to anemia, a potential threat of premature delivery.
Eggs are very healthy and make a part of your balanced diet for pregnancy. A large egg contains 77 calories and high quality protein and fat. Together with this, vitamins and minerals come packed with it. Eggs contain choline. Choline is necessary for brain development of the baby and its health. Low choline intake can lead to neural tube defects.
4. Fruits and Vegetables:
Needless to say, fruits and vegetables will take the biggest space in your pregnancy diet plan chart. Broccoli and dark leafy vegetables like kale, spinach etc. packs in a lot of essential nutrients required for the body. Many fruits and vegetables contain fibre, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, iron and potassium. Broccoli and leafy vegetables are rich in antioxidants that will benefit the immune system.
You can make a salad out of these ingredients and add Chinese cabbage, sprouts, papaya and apples for dressing. Do make sure your diet has either bread or rice, but brown bread would be the healthier choice. Aside from these, oranges for Vitamin C and pears for Vitamin C, K and copper are a good choice as well.
5. Sweet Potatoes:
Sweet potato is a tuber that is rich in beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a plant compound that converts to vitamin A in the body. A healthy fetal development needs a good amount of sweet potatoes. About 3.5 to 5.3 ounces of cooked sweet potato is a recommended dosage for pregnant women for her vitamin A requirement.
From the seafood side, we recommend salmon in the diet plan for pregnant women, if you are making one. Salmon contains omega 3 fatty acid. They are essential during pregnancy, the DHA and EPA. This helps build the eyes and brain of your baby. However, seafood also has higher amounts of mercury and thus need to limit the intake of seafood. 2-3 meals of fatty fish per week are considered to be an ideal dose.
Berries contain healthy carbohydrates, water, vitamin C and fiber. They are known to be rich in vitamin C that helps the body absorb iron. Berries also have low glycemic index value and thus will not cause any major blood sugar spike. They are a great snack and thus you can eat them during your snack time as a healthy serving.
8. Whole Grains:
Never miss whole grains from your pre pregnancy diet or post pregnancy diet chart. Whole grains are helpful to increase the calorie requirements, especially when you are in your second or third trimester. They contain fiber, vitamins and plant compounds. They are also rich in vitamin B, magnesium and fiber.
Apart from the choice of fruits, a pregnant woman should also comprehend that the diet of a pregnant woman is not similar to a normal woman’s diet. Therefore, an expecting mother should never deprive herself of food, but that surely does not mean that you would overeat. Because then you would only deteriorate the health of the baby along with your own. You should regularly check with your doctor in order to maintain the ideal pregnant woman’s weight.
See More: Healthy Meals Ideas for Pregnancy
What Should You Not Eat?
Your pregnancy diet plan will also come with things that you should not eat in the period. Here are the major ones.
1. Mercury Fish:
Like we said earlier, high doses of mercury and other contaminated bacteria are common in seafood. It is best to keep away and seek your doctor’s guidance for the ideal dosage. Shark, Tuna, king mackerel, swordfish are particularly high in mercury
2. Under Cooked or Raw Fish:
Undercooked or raw fish is never a nutritious food for pregnant ladies. Raw fish is known to cause infections. Since pregnant women are susceptible to listeria infections, which is a bacteria found in contaminated and stagnant water, raw fish has the potential to get infected and thus when the mother consumes this, it can pass on.
3. Raw Eggs:
Raw eggs can sometimes be contaminated with salmonella. Keep away from poached eggs, lightly scrambled eggs, homemade mayonnaise, salad dressings, cake icings etc. all of which may contain raw eggs.
Limiting the caffeine intake to less than 200 mg per day or about 2-3 cups is a good thing to do. Your pregnancy food should be free of tea, soft drinks and coffee. Caffeine can quickly get passed on to the baby. High caffeine can limit the growth of the baby. Unborn babies and their placenta do not have the enzyme to metabolize caffeine and therefore can be dangerous.
5. Raw Sprouts:
Cooked sprouts are considered healthy. Uncooked or raw sprouts may be contaminated with salmonella.
Indian Diet Plan for Pregnant Women:
Start with a pre breakfast snack. This will include either of the following
- A glass of cow’s milk.
- almond shake.
- apple juice.
- tomato juice.
- dry fruits.
Your breakfast should be complete:
- a bowl of fresh fruits.
- wheat ravaupmaloaded with fresh green vegetables.
- pohawith vegetables.
- whole wheat toast with butter.
- parathas filled with spinach, dal, carrots, beans or potatoes.
- Mixed bean cutlet.
- Cheese toast.
- Vegetable handvo.
Indulge in a healthy serve of mid-morning snack in your pregnancy food:
- Roti with dal, vegetable and a bowl of curd.
- Paratha with dal and a bowl of curd.
- Carrot and peas paratha with a bowl of curd and salted butter.
- Jeera rice with raita.
- Rice, dal and vegetable with vegetable salad.
- Lemon rice with peas and vegetable salad.
- Vegetable khichdi.
- Chicken salad with lots of fresh vegetables or vegetable soup.
- Chicken and rice.
Evening snack is also a healthy serve:
- Corn and cheese sandwich.
- Vegetable idli.
- Bread cutlet/chicken cutlet.
- Roasted peanut mixture.
- Chicken soup.
- A bowl of khajoor or dry fruits.
- Vegetable daliya.
- Peas and cauliflower samosa.
- Your dinner needs to be light to prevent heartburn.
- Rice with dal, spinach and green salad.
- Mixed dal kichdi and green salad.
- Plain paratha with curd.
Weight gain during pregnancy diet is considered normal and essential. In the entire journey, you gain about 15 to 25 pounds, around 2 to 4 pounds in your first trimester.
Supplements to Take:
Despite food habits during pregnancy, some supplements are necessary. Your pregnancy will increase the need for nutrient supply to the body.
1. Prenatal Vitamins:
Prenatal vitamins serve the need for an increased demand for micronutrients during pregnancy. They are usually taken before conception, during pregnancy and later during lactation.
Vitamin B is a form of folate and helps in DNA synthesis, red blood cell production and growth of the fetus. 600 mcg of folate is a recommended dosage per day.
We do not really have to tell you the importance of it. Iron has to be taken 27mg per day. Iron deficiency in the body can lead to anemia.
4. Vitamin D:
Vitamin D is required for bone health and cell division. 600 IU per day is the recommended dosage of vitamin D.
Magnesium is a mineral which plays a vital role in muscle, immune and nerve function. Deficiency in magnesium as mineral leads to the risk of hypertension and premature labour.
Ginger is a herbal supplement that is added to the healthy food for pregnant women. It is known to cure nausea that occurs out of motion sickness.
Supplements to Avoid:
1. Vitamin A:
Vitamin A can also be harmful. The vitamin is water soluble and thus the body will store excess amounts of it in the liver. This accumulation will lead to liver damage.
2. Vitamin E:
Vitamin E, though considered good for gene expression and immune function, it has also been observed to increase the risk of abdominal pain coupled with premature rupture of amniotic sac.
This is a plant that is used as a dietary supplement to reduce the risk of respiratory infections and diarrhea. However, Goldenseal contains berbine that leads to jaundice in infants.
Yohimbe is obtained for the bark of a tree. The tree is native to Africa. It can however cause high blood pressure and heart attacks.
Best Sleep In Diet During Pregnancy:
Also, make sure that you get enough sleep. Sleep is essential for the health of both the baby and the mother thus you should neither deprive yourself of enough sleep nor should you try to compensate it with some other options.
See More: Best Pregnancy Tips
Tips for Diet for Pregnant Women:
- Never skip your breakfast. Every morning, your body should be supplied with the right nutrients to start your day.
- Include food with a lot of fiber. This will keep you full and away from unwanted hunger pangs and cravings. Cooked greens, carrots and melons are best foods with whole fiber. Beans and brown rice are also equally fiber rich.
- Choose your snacks wisely. They sure need to be healthy. Low fat or fat-free yogurt with fruit would be good.
- Take your prenatal vitamin and iron along with folic acid every day. Do not miss this.
- Limit your caffeine and drink lots of water. Staying hydrated is extremely important at this point.
Much of a memorable and healthy pregnancy journey begins from following strict food habits during pregnancy. This has to start early and you need to make up your mind to give up certain food habits of yours. Take care of your baby. Things will slowly fall in place.
Frequency Asked Questions And Answers:
Q1. Is There Any Food Allergy That I Should Be Aware of?
Ans: Some people are allergic to nuts and seeds. Consult your doctor for an alternative. Some of them could be lactose intolerant. It is best to seek for an alternative here.
Q2. What is a Pre Pregnant Diet?
Ans: Your pre pregnancy diet should include fiber rich carbohydrates like veggies, fruits and whole grains. Skim milk has to be replaced with whole milk and you also have to cut down on the sugar you take. At any point of your pregnancy, an adequate amount of water is necessary.
Q3. What is Post Pregnancy Diet?
Ans: Much of you might be focusing on losing weight. Choose the right away to do that. Limit your junk foods and eat protein rich food like milk, cheese and yogurt. Prenatal vitamins should still continue to be a part of your diet.