Healthy Food Choices for Pregnant Women
Pregnancy diet does not mean eating for two. Opt for nutritious food choices and eat a well-proportioned diet all through your pregnancy.
By Luke Coutinho
Expecting your baby is one of the loveliest phases a woman goes through in her life. Pregnancy is the best way to feel grateful for the pleasures granted by the almighty to experience the feeling of bearing a child inside you to comprehend and sense the child’s movements and kicks till he arrives in this world. You experience not just physiological changes but also a gamut of psychological alterations, and all you want to do is make the most of this beautiful period.
Right from all those favourite food cravings to all the aversions for some specific foods or smell, eating for two can be a nail-biting accountability. You are surrounded by a conflict situation where you are confused whether it is vital to eat enough fish or to worry about its mercury content. You worry about whether it is good to eat more meat to get more protein or whether it is too fatty. Is eating eggs healthy for you or are they high in cholesterol levels is another common doubt. All these doubts are more than enough to make you dive into the nearest bag of chocolate bars. Ease yourself. This is nothing unusual. All you need to do is sit back and enjoy every phase of motherhood for the upcoming nine months.
There are many ways to ensure that you and your baby receive the necessary nutritional values. The following food choices will ensure you have a healthy pregnancy.
Broccoli is full of anti-oxidants and combats many illnesses. It is also a rich source of Vitamin C, so if consumed with foods rich in iron, it is absorbed well. Since it’s also rich in vitamin B6, it aids in proper functioning of the nerves and helps produce antibodies to battle the various disease.
Nonfat/ Low-fat milk
When you are expecting, there is a sudden increase in the body’s requirement level for calcium. It is essential to eat curd made from low-fat milk at least twice a day. This will ensure you obtain the required calcium along with probiotics that calm the gut lining and stabilise the good microbes in the abdomen.
These are a rich source of potassium and provide a lot of energy, but you must opt for red banana since they are high in their nutrient levels. Nutrients like potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, calcium and fibre when passed from the mother to the baby help in the baby’s enhanced growth.
Eating eggs during pregnancy ensures both the mother and the child receive all the vital amino acids. Refrain from eating them raw since this increases the chance of infection.
This is a great source of protein for vegetarian expectant mothers. Beans like lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas and black beans are a high source of fibre and proteins. Beans are good for the growth of the child. Ensure you cook them well and avoid using stale cooked beans which lead to the gas formation and can upset your digestive system.
Leafy vegetables boast of high levels of folate and iron and must be included in the diet during pregnancy. The deeper the colour of the vegetable, the higher is the vitamin content.
Nuts and nut butters
An adequate quantity of fat is essential for the development of the baby’s brain. Walnuts are rich in DHA while almonds have high levels of vitamin E and have heart-healthy fats. Munching on a few mixed nuts on a regular basis will meet your requirement.
If you crave sweets, munch on dry fruits like figs, raisins and apricot. These are healthier choices compared to sugar-based candies or chocolates.
Here are some food items that you must avoid during pregnancy:
Avoid drinking alcohol during pregnancy to prevent foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). It’s always good to take protection than to impair a new life.
Excessive caffeine-related products:
Caffeine performs the role of a diuretic resulting in low birth weight in the baby and raises the risk of spontaneous abortions, stillbirths or even foetal deaths.
Preserved foods are damaging as the chances of adulteration are great due to long shelf life and incorrect storage.
Sugar based sweets:
During pregnancy, it is common to crave for chocolates, ice creams and other desserts. But it’s also important to avoid sugar-rich foods as they cause unwelcome weight gain and increases the probability of gestational diabetes. It is also difficult to lose weight gained during pregnancy.
Avoid unclean street food during pregnancy as it is unhygienic and can lead to contagion and food poisoning..
Our ancestors believed that fruits like papaya and pineapple should be strictly avoided during pregnancy as these can cause miscarriage. This is true as the enzyme in these fruits causes contraction of muscles which could lead to premature delivery or miscarriage. These fruits can be eaten in moderation post the first trimester.
The following safety aspects must be considered as well:
- Wash fruits and veggies well before consumption to eliminate all traces of soil, which may contain disease-causing pests.
- After you cook raw meat, you must wash all surfaces and utensils well.
- Store raw foods and ready-to-eat foods separately to prevent the risk of contamination and infection.
- Refrain from eating raw salads when you eat out. This will reduce the chances of infection.
Physical activities like yoga and deep breathing are essential for the complete development of mother and baby. Fitness, combined with a healthy diet, can make pregnancy fun.
Luke Coutinho is an expert in integrative and lifestyle medicine, holistic nutrition, exercise physiologist and Founder, Pure Nutrition.
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