The news of your pregnancy brings in a lot of joy and excitement to your life. Everything around seems beautiful and lovely. Besides proper care and regular checkups, it is also important to follow a healthy diet regimen during pregnancy. Healthy eating routine during pregnancy helps in proper growth and development of the baby. This is especially true for non-veggies mums-to-be, who often ignore other food groups and tend to feast on their favorite non-vegetarian foods.
This doesn’t imply that you need to follow a special diet to stay healthy during pregnancy. Instead, it is recommended to include a variety of foods to have balanced nutrition.
Importance of Healthy Eating During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is the most demanding phase of a woman’s life. This is the most crucial time to nourish your body. Moreover, this is the initial step towards your baby’s nourishment. Mothers-to-be who don’t eat a balanced diet and stick to just non-vegetarian options might face complications during or post delivery.
Healthy eating not only reduces the incidence of diseases but also supports longevity. Moreover, eating a balanced diet becomes even important as you are eating for two now.
Some other benefits of healthy eating habits during pregnancy have been listed ahead.
- Reduces risk of birth defects
Deficiency of certain nutrients or intake of unhealthy diet can be the cause for various birth diseases, like neonatal diabetes, neurological impairments and retarded growth. It is, therefore, advisable to eat natural foods and avoid processed foods for better health of the baby.
- Less complicated pregnancy
The body becomes susceptible to numerous hitches during pregnancy. These include problems like thyroid, gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. Healthy eating prevents the occurrence of these problems through the provision of balanced nutrition to the body. Moreover, healthy eating helps combat pregnancy maladies, like leg cramps and morning sickness.
- Forms the basis of good health
Your diet during pregnancy influences the health of your baby. It also forms the baby’s eating habits in later life. Eating poorly will lead to poor taste development for the baby as well as increased risk for chronic diseases like diabetes and obesity.
- Ensures healthy baby weight
Babies born with a low weight are more susceptible to health problems and complications. Eating healthy food during pregnancy not only builds strong immunity in baby, but also helps in prevention of chronic diseases that the baby might suffer due to low birth weight.
- Maintains healthy weight post delivery
Many women tend to gain considerable weight post delivery. Every woman wants to shed those extra kilos at the earliest. Healthy eating habits formed during pregnancy continue even after delivery. This way you can lose the extra weight easily and quickly.
Foods to Eat During Pregnancy
Everything that you eat during pregnancy has an impact on your baby’s mental as well as physical development. Moreover, it also impacts your own health. Eating nutritious and healthy foods will leave a positive impact, while consuming more of junk foods not only affects your health but also hinders proper development of the baby.
However, there are numerous maladies associated with pregnancy. Every individual is different and so is the body. With every new month or trimester, you might experience numerous changes. These changes are not only physical, but emotional as well.
To talk of physical changes, every trimester marks the requirement of specific nutrients for proper growth of the baby. Also, the amount of calories needed by the body differs with every trimester.
What to Eat During First Trimester
The first trimester is considered as the most difficult phase in pregnancy. Food aversions and nausea are most common during this phase. This makes it slightly difficult to eat all the correct foods that you actually want during the initial phase.
However, the first trimester doesn’t require you to consume many calories. But, make sure anything you eat is nutritious and beneficial for baby’s health. It is essential to have a balanced diet that contains the appropriate amount of proteins, calcium, folic acid, and iron.
Vegetarians can obtain nutrients from plant-based foods and dairy products. There are wide ranging fruits that carry a high nutritional value. However, non-vegetarians have an additional benefit. You can have the nutrients from rich fruits and veggies as well as take benefit from poultry and meat products.
Some good non-vegetarian sources of protein include seafood, poultry, lean meats, and eggs. Calcium can be obtained from foods, like milk, yogurt, tofu, fish and almonds.
Deficiency of iron is the most common problem that comes up during pregnancy. It is important to take preventive steps to this problem at the initial stage of pregnancy. Although doctors recommend iron supplements, nothing can compare to what natural sources do. Make sure you increase the consumption of iron-rich foods to cater your body’s requirement for it. Some of the best food sources include almonds, green leaves, beans, animal meats and fortified cereals.
Pregnancy Maladies during First Trimester
The most common malady associated with the initial stage of pregnancy is morning sickness and occurs mainly due to hormonal changes in the body. It can be managed easily through small changes in the eating schedule. Take small and frequent meals throughout the day. Also make sure to keep yourself hydrated by drinking ample water. Ginger ale or dry saltine crackers can help combat morning sickness, which is common in the first trimester.
Another common problem during the first trimester of pregnancy is indigestion or heartburn. To evade this problem, try to avoid spicy foods. Also, make sure to maintain an upright position for about three hours after a meal. This would help in prevention of reflux thus controlling the situation.
What to Eat During Second Trimester
In the second trimester, the body demands calcium and vitamin D. This is because the baby’s bones and teeth develop during this phase. Additionally, you also need Omega-3 fatty acids for proper brain development of the baby. The required calorie count also increases with the healthy weight gain.
To talk of nutritional sources, dairy products, like milk, tofu, and yogurt are some of the best sources of calcium and Vitamin D. Non-vegetarian mothers-to-be are very lucky as salmon and other fatty fish are great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Pregnancy Maladies during Second Trimester
During this phase, you might go through certain aversions and cravings for specific foods. Giving in to these craving is okay sometimes. However, it is recommended to avoid consumption of junk food and try to meet these cravings with healthy replacements of junk foods.
Similarly, food aversion is another problem during the second trimester of pregnancy. You might develop a dislike for specific foods. It is not a problem if the aversion is for alcohol, coffee, or ice-cream. However, if you develop an aversion for milk or leafy greens, it might be problematic as these food sources contain rich nutrients for the baby.
Another common malady during the second phase of pregnancy is gastroenteritis. This can be treated by drinking enough water for hydration. If, in any case, you feel overly nauseated, try sipping on some liquids, such as organic ginger ale. Make sure you wait for about 10 minutes between sips. Another effective method is to have diluted juices or sucking on ice cubes.
Constipation is yet another problem that might be faced by many women during the second phase of pregnancy. This calls for increased intake of fiber. Also, avoid chocolates as they may cause constipation.
What to Eat Third Trimester
This is the final and most crucial phase of pregnancy. The eyes, bones, brain, organs, and lungs of your baby begin to develop further. This implies an increase in the nutritional needs of the baby. Besides this rapid growth, the body is also getting prepared to give birth. A healthy diet along with light exercise and yoga, therefore, becomes crucial during this phase.
In addition to the basic diet, there are also certain foods that you can include in your diet to cater to the extra nutritional needs of the body. It is recommended to have cereal products and whole grain bread, lean protein, fresh fruits and veggies, and dairy products with low-fat.
The fast brain development of the baby demands foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids while rapid bone development asks for more of calcium. Some of the best food sources of omega 3 fatty acids and iron include salmon fish, mackerel fish, shellfish and tuna. For additional calcium, you can include yogurt and cottage cheese to your diet.
Pregnancy Maladies during Third Trimester
During the final phase of pregnancy, the problem of gastroenteritis might develop a stage further. To combat this problem, try to have six small meals throughout the day instead of three major meals. Also, munch on small, healthy snacks in between meals. These snacks may include fruits, nuts, juices, and almonds.
Another common problem that many women go through during this phase is backache and swelling in the feet. This is mainly because of the increased weight. Avoid exerting yourself. However, it is important to indulge in some light physical activity like light exercise, walking and/or yoga. Avoid consumption of oils and fats as these can cause obesity high blood pressure. Eat healthy.
Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
As it is recommended to eat healthy during pregnancy, there are certain foods that should be avoided for healthy development of the baby. These include:
- Salad dressings
- Spreading fats (like butter)
- Aerated drinks
All these foods contain rich content of fat and sugar. These foods generally contain high calories and lead to obesity. Some other foods to avoid during pregnancy include:
- Unpasteurized Milk
Unpasteurized milk and dairy products made from unpasteurized milk are not safe during pregnancy. These products might carry bacteria and cause food poisoning. Pregnancy makes you more susceptible to infections and food poisoning. Also, when you are eating out, try to avoid cottage cheese if you are not sure about it being fresh.
- Undercooked or Raw Meat
Meat is a good source of lean protein. Avoid eating undercooked or raw meat, eggs, and poultry. Again, the reason is harmful bacteria that can cause infections. Cook the eggs to full to make them hard. Also, while cooking meat, make sure that there are no pink bits left. Also avoid raw seafood, such as uncooked sushi and oysters.
- Predator Fish
Try to stay away from large predator fish, like swordfish, tile fish, king mackerel and shark. This is due to the unsafe levels of mercury present in such fish. These fish are known to absorb mercury present in contaminated and polluted waters. The proteins in the fish muscle have a tendency to bind tightly to the mercury. This mercury is not removed even if the fish is completely cooked.
- Canned fish
Another food to avoid during pregnancy is canned or processed fish. These fish are generally preserved in saline water. This saline (salt) solution causes water retention. Make sure to drain canned fish thoroughly before you eat it. It is also recommended to consume processed fish occasionally only.
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can be a cause for serious physical defects, emotional problems, and learning disabilities in the baby. It is, therefore, strongly recommended to stay away from alcohol or alcoholic drinks during pregnancy.
Caffeine too is not good during pregnancy. Excessive intake of caffeine can increase the probability of low birth weight. It might even be a cause for miscarriage. It is, therefore, recommended to cut down to two cups of tea or coffee a day. Any more can be harmful.
Above all, it is also important to know that dieting should not be done during pregnancy. Dieting during pregnancy can be harmful for the baby as it might keep you deprived of many essential nutrients, like folic acid, iron, and important minerals and vitamins.
Don’t worry about weight gain during pregnancy. It is the most positive sign of pregnancy. Just make sure you eat healthy. Eating well and gaining the perfect weight helps in giving birth to a healthy baby. So, if you are on a healthy diet and gaining weight, don’t worry. As you are a non-vegetarian, try to include greens, whole grains, veggies, nuts and fresh fruit in your diet. This will help ensure you get all nutrients to have a health and safe pregnancy. Remember this is the time you should pamper and nurture yourself and your baby.