Should women diet during pregnancy? The answer is “Yes” but for pregnant women, going on a diet does not mean eating calorie-restrictive food for the purpose of losing weight. Dieting during pregnancymeans eating good healthy food that will ensure the health, safety and well-being of both Mommy and baby up to the day of delivery.
When a woman becomes pregnant she has to fine-tune the way she eats. For some, it may represent a drastic lifestyle change but one that is necessary because she is now responsible for the life growing in her womb. Mommy’s primary concern is to make sure baby gets adequate nutrition every day.
Does pregnancy mean Mommy has to eat for two? The answer is “No”. What Mommy has to do is shift to eating foods that are packed with the nutrients needed to assist baby’s growth and development.
When you are pregnant, you have to be smarter about your food choices. You need to focus on foods high in iron and protein plus vitamins, calcium and other minerals.
You should know the best foods to eat while pregnant. At the same time, you should have an idea of the type of foods pregnant women should avoid.
4 Important Food Groups During Pregnancy
The first thing you should do is categorize the sources from where you will get the best foods to eat while pregnant.
Here the food groups to consider for your diet:
Fruits and Vegetables
Pregnant women need to eat foods that are high in vitamin C and folic acid. The minimum daily requirement of vitamin C is 70mg and 0.4mg of folic acid during pregnancy.Oranges, grapefruit, honeydew, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and tomatoes are among the best fruit and vegetable sources of vitamin C. Dark leafy vegetables, lima beans and black-eyed peas are high in folic acid.You should eat 2-4 servings of fruit and 4 servings of vegetables daily.
Breads and Grains
Carbohydrates are your body’s immediate source of energy. You can get iron, B vitamins and folic acid from whole grain and enriched bread products.However, you have to be careful with your intake of foods high in carbohydrates. Eating too much carbohydrate can increase your blood sugar levels. This could expose you and baby to the risk of acquiring diabetic conditions.The recommended consumption of carbohydrates is 6 to 11 servings daily. But the amount of carbohydrates you eat will depend on your bodyweight. If you’re on the heavy side, keep your servings to the low end of the consumption range.
Babies need adequate protein in the second and third trimester of the pregnancy to help in their development.Protein sources such as meat, poultry, eggs, fish and beans also contain iron which is needed to deliver oxygen to baby. For Mommy, iron will deliver oxygen to your muscles and prevent symptoms of fatigue and depression.3 servings of protein are good enough to deliver at least 27mg of iron per day.
Calcium is an important mineral for both Mommy and baby because it helps build strong bones, teeth, normalizes blood clotting and stabilizes the nervous system.During pregnancy, you will need 1,000 mg of calcium every day. Good sources include milk, cheese, yogurt and puddings. 4 servings of dairy products will be enough to provide your daily requirement of calcium.Now that you know which food groups to focus on when you are grocery shopping, let’s find out the best foods to eat while pregnant.
12 Best Foods To Eat During Pregnancy
Lean Cuts of Meat – Protein is composed of amino acids which are the building blocks of every cell in baby’s body. Choose lean cuts of beef, pork or lamb which you can add to soups or salads.
Greek Yogurt – Not all yogurts are alike. Greek Yogurt is the best choice for Mommy and baby. There are many benefits to eating Greek Yogurt. It has higher amounts of protein, 1,200mg of calcium and contains healthy probiotics that can prevent upset stomach and yeast infections.
Wild Salmon – Rich in omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) which are important for baby’s brain and eye development. It will also help metabolize vitamins A and E and prevent prenatal depression.
Avocados – Good source of heart healthy monounsaturated fat, folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. Spread avocados on whole grain toast as a healthy substitute for mayo.
Oats – Oats are high in fibre which can help you deal with constipation that accompanies pregnancy. It is also rich in B vitamins and iron.
Edamame – Otherwise referred to as cooked soybeans, edamame are packed with protein, calcium, folic acid, vitamins A and B. You can add edamame to soups, salads or casseroles.
Nuts – These are one of the best healthy snacks for pregnancy. Nuts are loaded with several minerals such as copper, manganese, magnesium, selenium, zinc, potassium, calcium and also contains vitamin E.
Carrots and Peppers – These vegetables are good sources of beta carotene which is converted in the body as vitamin A. This vitamin is essential for the development of baby’s eyes, skin, bones and organs. Carrots and peppers are also some of the best healthy snacks for pregnancy because you can eat them on-the-go.
Mangos – So sweet yet so good for pregnant mothers! Mangos have higher amounts of vitamins A and C than a fresh bowl of mixed greens. Eat it like a dessert or have it as a smoothie.
Eggs – Eggs are completely safe to eat during pregnancy. Make sure you buy them from reputable stores and cook them thoroughly. Eggs are pound-for-pound one of the best sources of protein. They also contain vitamins A, D and B complex plus healthy unsaturated fat.
Bananas – This is the best fruit to eat during pregnancy. Bananas are loaded with vitamin B6 which helps in the growth of healthy red blood cells. Bananas also contain folic acid and iron.
Milk – We mentioned milk earlier and we’ll mention it again because it is that important for pregnant women. It will help you baby develop stronger bones, maintains health of the uterus and delivery of good blood supply. Drinking at least 3 glasses of milk will ensure baby will have healthy weight when he/she is born.
Bonus: Foods Pregnant Women Should Avoid
You may have thought that some of the items in this list are healthy but are actually foods pregnant women should avoid. Research has found out that these foods and drinks contain substances which may affect your health and the baby’s development.
Unpasteurized Cheeses – These include Brie, Blue, Feta, Camembert and Roquefort. Unpasteurized cheeses and dairy for the matter may be exposed to food-borne illness such as Listeriosis, an illness that can lead to miscarriage.
King Mackerel and Swordfish – These foods have been found to contain high levels of mercury.
Caffeinated Drinks – Caffeine can affect your baby’s heart rate. Even decaffeinated drinks contain trace amounts of caffeine. Don’t risk it.
Deli Meats – Highly processed foods have been found to be at risk of acquiring Listeriosis.
Alcoholic Beverages – Alcohol deprives cells of oxygen and nutrients. If you’re thirsty, water is your best choice.
These are only 12 of the healthiest foods you can eat during pregnancy. There are other choices you can make to add variety to your diet.
For example, the kiwi fruit is another good source of vitamin C. Berries are rich in healthy anti-oxidants and have the extra benefit of fibre. Dried apricots can be a good, healthy snack because these contain calcium, iron and vitamin A.
Do not believe the age-old advice that you should eat whatever you want or to give in to cravings during pregnancy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your cravings may involve unhealthy, overly processed foods like ice cream and French fries.
It may seem like a difficult transition at the start. But after nine months, eating the right foods during pregnancy will deliver a healthy baby and may lead to a healthier and fit lifestyle after.
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