Pregnancy is a time of anabolism. Therefore, women should definitely eat more when pregnant than they typically do. It is important to note that weight gain is an extremely critical part of pregnancy. To ensure the right weight gain and a healthy diet for pregnant women, the diet must consist of complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and high-quality fats. Hence, it is important to eat a balanced diet rather than giving in to cravings to justify overeating or eating poor quality foods.
Nutrients to include during pregnancy:
- Calcium: dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, figs, low-fat milk and milk products
- Vitamin B12: , meat products
- Iron: legumes, dark green leafy vegetables, animal foods, whole grains
- Folate: dark green leafy vegetables, legumes
- Zinc: nuts, whole grains, animal foods
- Omega 3: flax, walnuts, fish
Foods and ingredients to avoid
While you work on the right diet for yourself with your doctor, it is important to remember that there are certain ingredients that you should avoid during your pregnancy. As your cravings increase, they might lead to poor nutritional choices. It is important to always indulge moderately. Processed foods such as refined flour and packaged food are best avoided during this time. Raw food such as eggs and seafood should also be completely avoided. Alcohol and tobacco are also a complete no-no. While you can have caffeine make sure it is less than 300 mg caffeine per day. As per individualistic preferences, you should also avoid food that you are usually averse to.
While you don’t have to avoid certain items such as white rice but it is good to limit the consumption of high glycaemic foods and sugary drinks. Gluten-rich foods such as wheat, rye and barley should also be consumed in moderation. These foods can lead to an increase in your blood sugar levels.
What should you eat?
Some of the good foods for pregnant women are as follow
- Complex carbs like jowar, bajra (winter), nachni, rajgira, oats, and brown rice
- Protein sources like eggs, lean meat (chicken + fish), skim milk, skim paneer, dals, pulses, nuts, and seeds
- Good fats like coconut oil, ghee, fatty fish, flax, raw nuts and seeds
- High fibre fruits such as apple, pear, orange, sweet lime, guava, papaya, berries, peach and plum
- Vegetables like dark greens such as palak and methi. Along with cruciferous veggies (drop this if it causes gas) such as cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli
- Gut boosting foods such as fermented veggies like cabbage, cauliflower, carrot and cucumber. Others such as turmeric, ginger, rosemary, garlic and basil.
- Gut soothing drinks such as lime water, apple cider vinegar and saunf (fennel seed) water
- Gut friendly food such as high fibre foods. These are considered the best food for pregnant women since they prevent blood sugar spikes, ensure steady energy levels and feed the good bacteria that live within us and ensure a healthy population of the gut bacteria crucial for passing on to the newborn baby.
Lifestyle plays an equally important role during this time. Try to exercise regularly and be as active as possible unless suggested otherwise by your doctor. A good way to reduce morning sickness is to consume complex carbohydrate-rich foods. In addition to meals, also consume nutritious snacks in between meals rather than indulging in junk foods. If heartburn is a concern, avoid fatty foods or fried foods and have small frequent meals. Make sure you stay hydrated by consuming fluids like low-fat milk, buttermilk, coconut water, and lime juice.
While these are general guidelines, it is important to consult a doctor and seek advice about your diet and lifestyle as each pregnancy can be different and your needs may vary. Follow your doctor’s advice, a healthy diet and an active lifestyle for a happy and healthy pregnancy.
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