Pregnancy is the most beautiful and magical days of a woman’s life. It is also the time when you feel responsible for not only yourself, but also the life that you are carrying. What you eat and drink during this time will impact you and your baby’s health during pregnancy and after birth.
During pregnancy, you will get a million suggestions and advices especially regarding diet and nutrition. With so many conflicting advises from all your loved ones, figuring out what is best for you and your baby can be overwhelming.
The responsibility of bringing a healthy baby into the world can fill your mind with millions of questions. Pregnancy is not a time for strict diets. All you need is a well-balanced, nutritious diet for you and your baby. Here are answers to few of those mind-boggling questions to ease your journey to motherhood.
The concept of ‘eating for two’
This old proverb of ‘eating for two’ is the most common diet blunder during pregnancy. That doesn’t mean ‘eating for two’ should be a phrase you completely ignore. Instead, consider it as a reminder for you that, it is time for you to eat sensibly and have healthy and nourishing foods.
During pregnancy, your baby needs a wide range of nutrients to grow and develop and your body will efficiently absorb more of the nutrients from what you eat. Though the nutritional need increases, one of you is a whole lot smaller, so the “one for me, one for baby” principle does not add up.
You must keep your calories in check during pregnancy. In fact, studies showed that, most women don’t need any extra calories in the first trimester (first 12 weeks). You will have to increase the calorie intake in next two trimesters as follows:
- Second trimester (13 to 26 weeks) – You will need about 340 extra calories a day.
- Last trimester (after 26 weeks) – You will need about 450 extra calories a day.
Intake of additional calories will cause excess weight gain and can put you at risk for pregnancy complications like:
- risk for gestational diabetes
- risk for high blood pressure
- chance of needing a C-section
Obtaining necessary nutrients without increasing calorie intake
To meet the nutritional requirements without increasing the calorie intake, you should focus on developing healthy eating habits.
Here are some recommended guidelines to make sure you are eating healthy and getting the right nutrients for you and your baby:
- Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, and protein foods.
- Eat 6 times a day – 3 meals and 3 snacks.
- Limit those “extra” foods that have calories but few nutrients like cookies, white bread, sugary beverages, and fried foods.
- Good fats such as vegetable oils, nuts and avocado can add flavor, but do not contain more calories.
- Drink plenty of water. Aim for minimum 12 to 13 cups of water per day, and more if it’s hot outside or you’re sweating a lot.
- Include nutrition-packed snacks like yogurt, nuts, a hard-boiled egg, some fresh fruits or vegetables in your diet.
Recommended daily portions for pregnant women
Dietary Guidelines for Indians, ICMR, 2011 recommends the following daily portions for pregnant women:
- Include five portions of vegetables, with at least one serving of green leafy vegetables daily.
- Have nine portions of fibre rich cereals in nine to 11 servings a day.
- Have one to two servings of fish a week to get essential omega-3 fatty acids.
- Include at least one serving of whole beans and legumes.
- Have two portions of fruit daily as a snack.
- Limit the intake of cooking oil to five to six teaspoons (30 ml) per day.
- Include five portions of milk and other dairy products per day.
Extra tips for eating well while pregnant
Here are some extra healthy eating tips that help you to meet your insatiable hunger as the growing baby starts demanding more:
- Don’t skip meals. This can lead to unstable blood sugar levels and cause nausea and vomiting. It can also lead to low weight gain.
- Check your serving sizes instead of cutting out your cravings
- Keep a track of your calorie intake
- Consider stocking up on healthy snacks
- Carry healthy snacks while travelling
- Watch your pregnancy weight gain
Consult a dietitian
Your baby’s health and growth are directly related to what you eat before and during your pregnancy. Meeting a registered dietitian during pregnancy will ensure that you are eating healthy and getting the right nutrients for you and your baby. It is important to meet a dietician for women who are obese, diabetic or have some food allergies.
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