Why should you plan your diet during pregnancy?
In general, eating healthy will get you lots of benefits, for example, it can give you more sustainable energy, a stronger immune system and reduce the risk of disease. Now that your pregnant, you'll have to be particularly careful about what you eat because as you know, you're not eating just for your own health, you're eating for the health of your baby.
During pregnancy having good nutrition in enough quantities is crucial for your baby's development and growth. Just to give you a hint, you should be consuming about 300 more calories, per day, than you did before you got pregnant. We know that nausea and vomiting (especially during your first trimester) makes it a little tricky to eat a healthy diet, nevertheless, that should be your goal.
Actually, eating well during your pregnancy can help you with the unpleasant symptom of nausea. It can also reduce the chances of complications such as anemia, low birth weight, and birth defects. There are other benefits to planning a good healthy diet during your pregnancy.
1. You'll have less complications
Gestational diabetes, anemia, urinary tract infections or your baby being born with birth defects are just some of the complications you could be at risk of having if you don't eat a balanced and healthy diet during your pregnancy. Eating healthy can help improve labor and delivery (always a good thing).
Food cravings during pregnancy are normal, though until now, there's not a widely accepted explanation for it. The thing about them is that they could be really weird and unhealthy for you and your baby. If you're craving food that can provide energy and essential nutrients, go ahead, indulge yourself. But if the craving is for something unhealthy like junk food, try to fight it off, it'll be worth it.
2. Your energy will increase
During your pregnancy, you'll feel fatigue all the time, it could be paralyzing. Don't worry, that's common for most pregnant women. It's something that's hard to control, no matter what you do (the first weeks are the hardest because of all the hormonal changes your body is going through), that is why it's so important to eat a healthy diet during your pregnancy.
To keep your energy up you'll need to eat every 3-4 hours and it has to be something wholesome, again avoid junk food.
3. Your baby will develop successfully
You having a healthy and balanced diet is just what your baby needs to grow correctly. Aim to eat 300 more calories than you normally would, but don't go overboard because overweight can lead to complications such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.
If you want your baby to grow healthy in your uterus you need to eat essential vitamins and nutrients.
4. Your sleep will improve
During pregnancy, a lot of factors can keep you up at night, (nausea, all the bathroom breaks, pains, aches) so to have a productive sleep, you need to eat well and stay away from caffeine. There are some vitamins and minerals that can help you achieved that: Vitamin B, calcium and iron.
5. You'll reduce the risk of falling sick
You'll be more susceptible to certain infections like the flu while you're pregnant. A healthy diet and plenty of rest can help you reduce that risk. A minor cold is not going to affect your baby, but aren't' pregnancy symptoms enough?
Tips to creating a healthy pregnancy diet
Remember that what you eat and drink during your pregnancy is your baby's main source of nourishment. It's recommended by experts that all mothers-to-be choose wisely when deciding what their diet is going to be during your pregnancy.
The type of diet you should be encouraged to eat during pregnancy refers more to fine-tuning your eating habits, not about losing weight or restricting calories. Healthy eating during your pregnancy is critical for your baby, so to ensure you're achieving that goal, make sure you eat from a variety of food groups. Here are some tips on how you can organize your healthy diet.
1. Include in your diet folic acid
When this nutrient is in the food is called folate, it's a B Vitamin that's crucial in preventing birth defects in your baby's brain and spinal cord. Getting the recommended amounts of folic acid just from the food you eat is kind of hard. That is why pregnant women are advised to take 600 micrograms of folic acid daily. Your prenatal vitamins have that daily dose.
You can help you intake of folate by eating leafy green vegetables, fortified or enriched cereals, pasta, citrus fruits and beans.
2. Eat or drink dairy products and calcium-rich foods
Calcium is essential to building your baby's bones and teeth. If during your pregnancy you don't consume enough calcium, it will be drawn from the stores in your bones (you don't want that to happen). So to meet the extra demand for calcium (you'll need at least 1000-1300 mg/daily), you need to drink or eat at least 4 servings of dairy products or calcium-rich foods.
These are some calcium food sources: milk, cheese, yogurt, sardines, salmon, leafy greens like kale.
3. Focus on fruits and vegetables
You should focus your diet on fruits and vegetables, especially during your second and third trimester. It's recommended to eat between 5 and 10 tennis ball-size servings of produce daily. All these colorful foods are a great source of fiber, vitamins and minerals and are low in calories.
4. Choose at least one good source of vitamin C
You'll need at least 80-85 mg of Vitamin C on a daily bases. Food sources of this vitamin are: oranges, grapes, strawberries, honeydew, papaya, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, green peppers, and mustard greens.
5. Increase your intake of iron
Now that you're pregnant you'll need 27 milligrams of iron daily. It's important to increase your intake of iron during pregnancy because this additional amount of mineral helps to make more blood so you can be sure your baby is getting enough oxygen. it would also help you fight the fatigue. Some of the best sources of iron are enriched grain products, lean meat, poultry, fish and leafy green vegetables.
To better absorb the iron, you need to include a good source of vitamin C in the same meal you're eating your iron-rich-foods.
6. Take "a building nutrient"
That would be protein, it's called that because it helps to build your baby's important organs, such as the brain and the heart. You should aim for three servings of protein daily, spread throughout the day (that's about 75 grams). Good food sources of protein are meat, poultry, fish, dried beans and peas, eggs, nuts, and tofu.
7. Limit your caffeine intake
You should limit your intake of caffeine to under 300 mg per day. So, enjoy your morning cup (an 8-ounce cup of coffee contains about 150 mg of caffeine). The content of caffeine in other drinks like tea or caffeinated soda depends on the beans or leave and how it was prepared. Just to give to a hint, an average black tea contains about 80 mg and a 12-ounce caffeinated drink from 30-60 mg.
8. Steer clear of these food
During pregnancy, you should avoid eating:
- Raw or undercooked meats and seafood (sushi is a NO)
- Deli or cured meats like Virginia Ham
- Processed meat that contains nitrate, like sausages
- Unpasteurized milk, juices, and cheese (Brie and fetta are a NO)
- Fish with high levels of mercury, that includes shark, swordfish or king mackerel
9. Stay hydrated
We know, all those trips to the bathroom! But you shouldn't decrease your intake of fluids, it's important that you stay hydrated during pregnancy because of the increase in blood in your body. Fluids can also help you fight fatigue and constipation. 8 glasses of water daily should be enough (all non-caffeinated beverages count too as well as, low sodium soups and water-rich fruits or vegetables).
10. Don't stop eating if you experience morning sickness
This is a huge mistake, you would think that by not eating you'll feel better and that's just not happening. To ease your morning sickness it's better to eat small amounts of food that doesn't have any odor to avoid upsetting your stomach. Cold dishes have fewer aromas, you should keep an arsenal of dry foods on your night table like crackers or popcorn or pretzels. Eat small snacks throughout the day, having a little something in your stomach can stave off nausea.
Creating a Pre-pregnancy diet
Are you trying to conceive? You don't have to wait until you get pregnant to start eating well for you and your baby. You can get a head start, following a healthy pre-pregnancy diet can only bring you benefits. It can boost your fertility and lower the risks of birth defects and can help you make the transition to a smoother pregnancy once your baby is "in the oven",
So, what foods you should include in your pre-pregnancy diet? Here are some examples.
Leafy greens like spinach
Include spinach in your plate, it's a great choice! This leafy green is low on calories and rich in calcium, folate, vitamin C and potassium Try it in a salad or add it to a smoothie that includes vanilla yogurt and a banana.
Load up you Vitamin C intake with oranges or berries
Oranges are also low calories and pack with vitamin C, calcium and potassium. The vitamin C from citrus fruits like oranges can help you better absorb iron. A glass of orange juice or a few slices mixed in with a salad are a few ways to include them in your diet, mixed them with berries and you're set.
You need to load up on calcium and all dairy product are rich in this mineral (they also contain protein and potassium). 3 servings daily should be enough, it's better if you choose products that are fortified with vitamins A and D. You can combine the milk with oatmeal or in a smoothie.
Excellent sources of protein like beans or chickpeas
Chickpeas are loaded with protein, zinc, potassium, and fiber. You can use them to make hummus or you can bake them and mixed them in a salad. Other good source of protein are lentils and kidney beans.
Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids and this is the kind of fat you need to include in your pre-pregnancy diet because it helps regulate key ovulation-inducing hormones and increases blood flow to your reproductive organs.
Creating a Post-pregnancy diet
We encourage you to think beyond the word diet. You gained some weight during your pregnancy but it's better for you and your newborn baby to better understand what to eat and what not to eat. Keep on eating healthy, just like you did before and during pregnancy. It'll help you regain your energy (you'll need it) and pass the nutrients to your baby through breastfeeding.
Because you're breastfeeding you'll need like 300 more calories each day. Include in your daily meals food that is rich in vitamins, minerals, protein, iron, calcium and omega-3s.
Low fat dairy products
You should include 3 portions of dairy product on your diet every day, an excellent source of calcium, protein, and vitamin B. Milk, cheese, yogurt should be part or your meals.
Pulses are the edible seeds of plants in the legume family. They are good sources of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Chickpeas, lentils, beans are good examples and should go into your diet too.
Lean mean could help increase your energy levels, it's rich in iron, protein, and vitamin B12.
Green veggies are rich in heart-healthy antioxidants and are low on calories so they can help you shed some extra weight, plus they are great sources of vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium. Be sure to include spinach, kale and brocolli.
Don't cut carbs completely
Instead, choose whole grain carbs like brown rice, or healthy carbs like blueberries or whole grain cereal ( a good choice after a sleepless night). These choices will help you regain your level of energy.
Top 3 Pregnancy Diet apps you should download right now
There are some apps that you can download that can help you achieve your pregnancy diet.
1. I Am Totally Pregnant
This app gives you a customized experienced throughout your pregnancy by using your due date and location. If you have questions you can ask them and a panel of pregnancy and parenting experts will answer them. You can watch videos of other moms. It has tips and album and a nutrition manager. It's available for Android and IOS.
2. Pregnancy Tips Diet Nutrition
This is a free app designed to guide pregnant women, it gives you diet tips and information about your baby's growth and development. You can also contact a Dietitian through the app,if you want a more personalized diet.
3. The Wholesome App
This app is a vitamin and micronutrient tracker. It provides you with healthy recipes and rates the ones that pack the most nutrition so you can choose the best choice and if you have gaps in your nutrition, the app suggests whole food to fill those gaps.
Following a healthy diet before, during and after your pregnancy will definitely help the growth and development of your baby. So if you're one to skip breakfast or eat chips for lunch, it's time to make some changes in your eating habits because you're not just eating to nurture you, your eating to nurture a life inside of you.