Diet for Pregnancy
Pregnant women need to eat for their good health as well as the baby’s. So it essential that their diet for pregnancy be nutritious and wholesome. This means the foods a pregnant woman eats should contain enough vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats and proteins. These nutrients can be found in dairy products, fish, meat, cereals, vegetables and fruits. Read on to learn more about the ideal diet for pregnancy.
Pregnancy Diet Essentials
Pregnant women should consume between 2,200 to 2,800 calories every day. The foods they eat should contain enough of the following nutrients:
Folic acid: is the most important nutrient for a pregnant woman as it is essential for the healthy development of the baby’s nervous system. This nutrient helps to prevent defects of the brain, spine and heart in the baby. Folic acid is present in bread, fortified cereals, citrus fruits, beans, yeast, liver and green leafy vegetables. These vegetables should be steamed or consumed raw because cooking removes the folic acid.
Iron: fuels hemoglobin production in the mother and baby, and helps to build teeth and bones. Iron deficiency causes anemia. So, pregnant women should eat plenty of iron-rich foods like iron-fortified cereals and breads, as well as vegetables, dates, raisins and potatoes.
Calcium: is vital to build strong teeth and bones in the baby. Pregnant women need to double their calcium intake. Good sources are cheese, yogurt, dairy products and green leafy vegetables.
Protein: is contained in eggs, milk, dairy foods, beans, peas, nuts, meat and fish. Be careful when consuming animal sources as they have high fat content. So, choose lean meat cuts if possible.
Vitamin C: helps to absorb iron and prevent infection. Many vegetables and fruits are rich in this vitamin. But cooking robs vitamin C, so eat your green vegetables steamed or raw.
Fiber: Constipation and piles affect most pregnant women. So they should consume plenty of fiber-rich foods like pulses, peas, beans, oats, cereals, nuts, brown rice, vegetables and fruits.
Water: is a key element in the diet for pregnancy. Water carries nutrients to the baby and helps to prevent constipation, piles, swelling, and bladder and urinary tract infections. It is important to drink plenty of water in the last trimester to prevent dehydration and premature labor.
Foods to Avoid
Besides eating the right foods, pregnant women should also avoid the following foods:
- Unpasteurized milk like cow or buffalo milk, as they may harbor listeria.
- Undercooked or raw meat, eggs and poultry which may have harmful bacteria.
- Raw seafood like uncooked sushi and oysters.
- Predator fish like swordfish or shark, as they may contain high mercury levels.
- Doctors advise pregnant women to refrain from alcohol intake as consuming high amounts can cause emotional problems, learning disabilities or physical defects in the children.
- Limit your intake or cut out caffeine altogether from your diet for pregnancy.
- Other foods to avoid are too much salt, and sugary items like soda, candy, cookies and cakes.
Consult your dietician and doctor and consume an ideal diet for pregnancy to ensure the good health of the baby and yourself.