Do’s and Don’ts :Nutrition During Pregnancy
Every person who has had a child seems to be an expert on pregnancy related aspects, including nutrition. Elderly people seem to tell pregnant mothers to drink milk or eat tender coconut and saffron to make the baby fair (which is a myth by the way). It seems that pregnancy related nutrition is an exhaustive topic however there are a few basic do’s and don’ts that are to be followed.
Here is a list of pregnancy related nutrient facts that you should be aware of:
How much should be your food intake:
- The quantity of food consumed has lasting effects on your child, throughout his/her life. This is why it is important to remember that the concept of “eating for two” is wrong.
The consumption of food does not double just because you are pregnant. During pregnancy it is healthy to gain a maximum of 10-12 kgs(which varies slightly depending on your weight). By the second and third trimesters you should be eating only 300-400 extra calories a day. Your doctor will give you an exact figure on how much to eat according to your height and weight.
Some important minerals and vitamins to be included in your daily diet:
- Your body needs magnesium and calcium for your baby’s bone growth and other related development. Although most pregnant women include a lot of calcium in their diets they tend to overlook the magnesium. Magnesium is needed for the muscle tissue and regulates blood pressure so eat a lot of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, bran cereals, dry roasted almonds, baked potato with skin and yoghurt.
- Iron is another mineral that is important for your baby during pregnancy. However it is hard to incorporate in a diet, especially for vegetarians, so taking supplements is advisable. However you can include iron fortified cereals and oats into your diet as well as spinach. Liver is also a rich source of iron as are other red meats.
- Get enough folate or folic acid (a B vitamin) as it helps to reduce the risk of neural tube defects including spina bifida. It is present in dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, hard boiled eggs, brown rice and black-eyed beans.
Foods to avoid or be careful about:
- Although many pregnant women crave salty foods, it is best to stay away from chips and other such high-sodium foods as they can aggravate swelling and water retention as well as cause dehydration. Here are some healthy alternatives to junk food that you could try
- Pregnant women should stay away from unripe or semi-ripened papaya. This fruit (green papaya) contains a latex substance that triggers early onset of labour. So, especially in your favourite Thai restaurant try to stay away from the raw papaya dishes. However a fully ripened papaya poses no risk to the mother or the foetus.
- Caffeine can be consumed but in moderation. Although there is a lot of debate regarding how much is the daily acceptable amount of caffeine, one cup a day should not harm you or the baby. This also includes caffeine that exists in colas and energy drinks. This is why it is important to read the labels.
- Always check the label on soft cheeses (including paneer) before you consume as many use unpasteurized milk to make the cheese, which may contain harmful bacteria such as E.Coli or Listeria. Other foods that contain them are uncooked or semi cooked eggs and meat (including cold cuts and deli meat such as those you might find in a submarine sandwich).
- Eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. The more colours the more the nutrients! However make sure they are all properly washed (especially fruits such as grapes, apples and pears that are eating directly with the peel) as they may contain harmful pesticides and chemicals. If you have access to organic fruits it is advisable to buy those. Eating seasonal and local fruits will ensure that you get your daily required intake of Vitamin C which not only helps in the absorption of Iron but also has ant-oxidants that helps fight infections.
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