With a little one on the way, there is probably more incentive for healthy eating during pregnancy than at any other point in life, since you are now responsible for the health and wellbeing of another life beside yourself. So what are some of the dos and don’ts of a pregnancy diet?
Here are some of the important dos for healthy eating during pregnancy-
1. Do eat a diet rich in natural produce and low in processed and refined foods that include high amounts of sugar, salt and fat. Eat complex carbs such as fruit and vegetables, and good quality protein such as low fat dairy, lean cuts of meat, healthy fish (check for the types that are low in mercury).
Also eat several small meals rather than three large ones, to keep indigestion and heartburn and other pregnancy discomforts in control.
2. Do take folic acid and a calcium supplement if advised by your doctor. The calcium supplement will not only ensure that the baby gets enough calcium but also that the there is no harm to the mother’s bone density as a result of her pregnancy.
3. Do make each of the five food groups part of your daily diet of healthy eating during pregnancy: grains, fruit, vegetable, protein, and milk products.
4. Do gain the required weight during pregnancy, but do it gradually. There is the need for extra calories and stores of fat to be laid down in pregnancy so a woman can cope with the rigors of childbirth as well as the subsequent requirements for breast feeding.
However the weight gain should be less if a woman is already overweight, and in any case it should be gradual since rapid or excessive weight gain in pregnancy is associated with complications.
5. Do drink plenty of water. Remember the amniotic fluid is regularly recycled and water is needed for practically every body function.
Here are some of the important don’ts for healthy eating during pregnancy-
1. Don’t eat for two. This is a pregnancy myth. Most women need only about 300 extra calories a day. So a woman who regularly ate about 2000 calories a day needs just one extra snack a day to make up the extra 300 calories.
2. Don’t eat fish that is known to be high in mercury, unwashed fruit and veg or produce that is known to be high in pesticides or hormones.
3. Don’t diet. Pregnancy is not the time to go on a diet; all experts speak in one voice on this subject. Women with eating disorders should get their disorder in control to try and establish healthy eating during pregnancy and beyond.
4. Don’t indulge all your cravings. It is all very well to give in to the occasional urge to have a slice of pizza in the middle of the night or to have a scoop of a particular flavor of ice-cream, but do not give in to every craving simply because you’re pregnant.
5. Don’t make sushi, raw eggs (or things such as mayo that contain raw eggs) soft cheeses, partly cooked meat of unpasteurized dairy products part of your healthy eating during pregnancy.