Proper nutrition during pregnancy is important for both baby and mom. Pregnant women need approximately 300 calories more than their normal, pre-pregnancy intake. It is not the equivalent of eating for two, as is commonly believed. What matters most is how you get the extra calories. Eating a well-balanced meal with all the essential nutrients is more important than ever during pregnancy. The following article suggests healthy foods for pregnancy.
Include all food groups in the food pyramid in your daily diet. Ensure that you eat food rich in carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals–especially, iron, folate and calcium. Drink plenty of water and include fat and sweets sparingly in your diet. Aim for a variety of foods in every meal so you get sufficient quantity of all types of essential nutrients.
“What to Expect When You’re Expecting”–the book many parents choose as a pregnancy guide, recommends the daily dozen concept to enable pregnant women to get the necessary 300 extra calories every day. This includes four servings of protein, two servings of Vitamin C, four servings of calcium, three or more servings of green leafy and yellow vegetables and yellow fruits, two or more servings of other fruits and vegetables, at least five servings of whole grains and legumes, four full or eight half-servings of high-fat foods, at least eight, 8-ounce glasses of water, and iron-rich foods in moderation. The Food Guide Pyramid, devised by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, recommends an average of nine daily servings of carbohydrate-rich foods like bread, cereal, rice and pasta for non-pregnant women and men. It suggests a diet low in fat, cholesterol and sugar and high in vegetables, fruits and grains. Pregnant women, who need extra calories, must use this as a guide for minimum number of servings required. This is applicable to vegetarians and vegans, too. If you do not eat meat, fish or dairy products, you will need to find suitable substitutes so you get the required amount of iron, proteins and calcium in your diet. You could consider soy protein, dates, nuts, pulses and legumes, orange juice and other substitutes. You don’t have to painstakingly measure the servings. Just ensure that your plate has generous servings of green, leafy and other vegetables, all types of fruits, whole grains, protein and calcium rich foods like low-fat cheese, yogurt, buttermilk and skimmed milk. Above all, ensure you follow a well-balanced meal plan throughout your pregnancy. You may have to take certain additional supplements such as folic acid, iron or calcium, if your practitioner or nutritionist feels that your diet does not include sufficient quantities to sustain a healthy pregnancy.
In the first trimester, morning sickness symptoms may prevent you from getting the required nutrition. During the later stages of pregnancy, you may not be able to consume a large portion in one meal. So, plan your food intake accordingly. During pregnancy, having three wholesome meals may not be the best option for many women. If bloating or heartburn is a problem, the authors of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting suggest spreading the daily servings into six smaller meals and making sure you don’t go hungry for hours or have long gaps between meals. It’s also important to keep your body hydrated with plenty of water. Restrict sugar intake. Minimize or preferably, avoid caffeine and alcohol.