Eating Healthy During Pregnancy

Healthy babies mean a healthy diet, one that is packed with nutrition while also being adequate for mother and baby.

A bad diet can affect baby

Eating healthy during pregnancy is absolutely important. There’s this common Indian saying that it’s now that you need to eat for two! While that is debatable, you certainly need to eat healthy and watch what you eat. Ignoring your diet or following a bad diet or a fad diet can affect your baby’s development. Why risk that when following a healthy diet is easy? Let’s find out right away what a healthy diet comprises of.

Variety is what you should look for

Remember that it’s important to eat a variety of foods throughout the day. This way you can be sure that you get the nutrients necessary for both of you. On a typical day, you would need proteins, vitamins and minerals like folic acid, calcium and iron and plenty of water. So ideally, you’d be eating whole grain foods, fruits, vegetables, dairy products (like milk, yoghurt and cheese) and eggs, lean meat or nuts.Let’s look at some of the best foods in terms of nutrition that you can have.

1. Dairy products: Calcium fortresses

Now is when you need extra protein and calcium. Where else can you get a good serving of it if not from dairy products that contain high quality proteins? Dairy products are also a great source of calcium, and provides high amounts of phosphorus, various B-vitamins, magnesium and zinc. Go for yogurt or curd, it contains more calcium than any other dairy product. Try to make curd at home. But if you are going for the store bought variety, opt for probiotic products from trusted brands.

2. Eggs: The complete food

Eggs have almost all the nutrients that a person needs. After all, that’s from where a chicken comes! Eggs contain high quality protein and fats along with vitamins and minerals and therefore are a great way to increase your nutrient intake. Choline, an essential nutrient in eggs, is great for brain health and development. It also helps baby’s spinal cord develop properly, and helps prevent neural tube defects.

3.Legumes: Folate store house

These are easy to come by and staple in almost all houses and includes lentils, peas, beans, chickpeas, soybeans and peanuts. Excellent sources of fiber, protein and iron, legumes are most important for the vitamin B9 or folate that they provide. Folate is absolutely necessary during your first trimester. The reason we say this is because consumption of legumes drops once women suffer from gas / flatulence. What is necessary is to address the gas issue and choose the legume verities that do not aggravate it. Insufficient folate can lead to low birth weight. It may also lead to your baby getting infections in later life. Speak to your doctor if you feel you are unable to consume legumes for any reason so that you can be prescribed a supplement.

4. Sweet potatoes: Your best vitamin A source

Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene that is converted into vitamin A in our bodies. Every pregnant woman is advised to increase the intake of vitamin A as it is essential for healthy fetal development. Animal based sources of vitamin A are not generally recommended due to the possibility of developing toxicity on excess consumption. So the safe bet is to look up to the humble sweet potato that is an excellent source of beta-carotene along with fiber. Get your portion of this tuber every day or even alternate day as the fiber content will also help reduce blood sugar spikes and improve your digestive health.

5. Spinach and broccoli: Multivitamin sources

All dark greens of which our land has many verities and broccoli are essential pockets of nutrients that all pregnant women need. They contain fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, calcium, iron, folate and potassium. They are also rich in antioxidants. When it comes to fiber, they have a high content of it and are great to prevent constipation that is a common problem in pregnant women. For added benefit, green leafy vegetables may also reduce the risk of low birth weight. All the more reason for you to have your greens as regularly as possible. Possibly every day!

6. Dried fruit: Loaded with vitamins and minerals

Almost all dry fruits are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. The best part is that they are available throughout the year and contain all the nutrients of fresh fruit. A single serving of dried fruit can provide a good amount of the recommended intake of vitamins and minerals. This includes folate, iron and potassium. A myth in some parts of India still holds that consumption of dates would lead to premature pregnancy. In fact dates taken regularly during your third trimester may actually help in cervical dilation and reduce the need to induce labor when your moment arrives. Do not go free hand on consumption of dry fruits, however. Just a single serving will do a day. Also, it is best that you avoid the sugar coated verities of dried fruits as normal dried fruits themselves contain high amounts of sugar.

Sardines and Mackerel: Rich in omega fatty acids

If you are non-vegetarian, and love your fish, then this is the time to have sardines and mackerel. Both varieties of fish are rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids. These are vital during pregnancy as they help build the brain and eyes of the fetus. But don’t have sea food every day. As much as they are necessary, the mercury content in sea food may not be advisable in larger quantities when you are pregnant. About 2 servings of either sardines or mackerel a week will give you the recommended intake of omega-3 fatty acids.Vegetarians can go for mustard oil, urad dal, leafy greens like spinach, cabbage, mangoes and spices like cloves and star anise.

Water and fruits too!

Remember that what you eat during your pregnancy will reflect on your wellbeing. It will also affect your energy and the health and development of your baby. The foods listed above are good for you over all and for the development of your precious bundle. Remember also to have plenty of water during this time. Drink 2 liters of water a day. Drink water any time you are thirsty. Avoid dehydration. Headaches, anxiety, tiredness, bad mood etc., are symptoms of dehydration. Fruits are also essential during pregnancy as they provide you with essential vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C, A, B. Go for oranges, mangoes, avocados, bananas and berries, besides lemon. There’s a reason we have listed fruits last – it’s because fruits are the first choice of “pregnancy foods”. But now you know they are not the only thing you need.

Eating healthy makes it a lot easier to lose the weight that you gain during your pregnancy, after you’ve given birth.

During your pregnancy, it is only natural to feel more hungry than usual. But you need not eat of two. Only during the later months of your pregnancy do you need to increase intake a little.

Have a healthy breakfast every day without fail. This will help you avoid snacking on rich, fatty, sugary foods and gain weight in the early stages of your pregnancy.

To avoid constipation, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Add sweet potatoes too for the fiber content. And drink plenty of water.

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