Do’s and don’ts: Things To Follow
Healthy diet is very important for the mother and the baby. Healthy diet and lifestyle are good for both and can keep a woman well during pregnancy. An unborn baby gets all nutrients from mother that’s why healthy food choices are important. Healthy food choices give a good start to the baby and protect baby from diseases in later life. There is a need of extra energy and nutrients in pregnancy and that’s the reason why the pregnant woman should take care of her diet. Healthy diet keeps a pregnant woman fit and helps in growth and development of the baby. It includes a variety of foods. A pregnant woman should know the foods that she should take and are important for the baby and the foods that should be avoided and can be harmful for the baby.
Balanced Diet and Food Groups
A balanced diet means variety of foods and consists of proper proportions of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals, vitamins and water which are necessary for the maintenance of good health. Balanced diet is important for all and pregnant women should also keep a balance of different foods during her pregnancy. All foods and nutrients have their own importance and foods that contains those nutrients should also be consumed but in right proportion. This section of article discusses different food groups necessary to maintain good health in pregnancy. DOs and don’t in food.
a. Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are an important component of a balanced diet. These foods provide fiber which is good for reducing constipation. Pregnant women often suffer from the problem of constipation due to hormonal changes in the body. Intake of fruits and vegetables can help to provide relief from this problem. Fruits and vegetables should be washed properly before use and vegetables should be cooked lightly for getting most out of it.
b. Foods Rich in Carbohydrates
The foods rich in carbohydrates are very important because carbohydrates are main source of energy. Mother and baby both need extra energy. So carbohydrate rich foods should be a part of every meal. Foods containing carbohydrates include bread, potatoes, rice, oats, sweet potatoes, fruits like bananas, dairy products like milk and yogurt, vegetables like spinach, cauliflower and spinach etc.
c. Foods Rich in Proteins
Protein is very important as it helps in development of important organs of the baby like brain and heart. Protein rich foods include meat, fish, eggs, pulses and nuts etc. While eating meat, check out that there is no pink meat and that juices have no pink/ red in them. Try to eat two portions of a fish a week but one of them should be oily fish.
d. Fatty Foods
This food group consists of fats, oil, cream, chocolates, biscuits, ice-cream, cake puddings and all such food products. Intake of such foods should be in a small amount. If such foods are consumed too much in pregnancy then it can be harmful and can cause tooth decay. Other problems can also occur like weight gain and increase in cholesterol level etc.
e. Milk and Dairy Foods
Milk, cheese and yogurt are also important as they contain calcium and other nutrients which are good for health of baby and the mother. Take semi-skimmed milk, skimmed milk, low fat yogurt etc.
Healthy varied diet is important in pregnancy. Most important nutrients are as follow:
a. Folic Acid
Folic acid is very essential for pregnant women. The adequate amount of folic acid in diet can reduce the risk of neural tube defects in baby. Intake of folic acid is important before getting pregnant and in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. Green leafy vegetables like spinach contain folic acid. Other sources of folates are beans and peas, some fruits like oranges etc.
Iron is an important nutrient and its important function is to make blood for pregnant woman and baby. If there is deficiency of iron in pregnant woman then she will feel tired, exhausted and will be anaemic. It can also lead towards complications in pregnancy. The newly born baby can be weighing too little at birth due to iron deficiency. Sources of iron are meat, chicken, fish, eggs, pulses, broccoli, spinach etc.
c. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a nutrient needed to absorb iron. Vitamin C can help in improving immunity of pregnant women. Sources of Vitamin C are citrus fruits like oranges, tomatoes, juices made from fruits which are rich in Vitamin C, potatoes, green vegetables like spinach etc.
d. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is needed to keep bones healthy and provide the baby with enough Vitamin D for the first few months of their life. It also regulates amount of calcium and phosphate in body. Adequate amount of Vitamin D also keeps teeth healthy. Vitamin D deficiency can lead towards a disease in babies called “Rickets” which is a condition in which softening of bones occur in baby’s body. Best natural source of Vitamin D is sunlight. Other sources of Vitamin D are oily fish, egg yolks, milk, breakfast cereals etc.
Calcium is also vital for making baby’s bones and teeth. Sources of calcium are milk, cheese and yogurt etc. Make sure the intake of calcium by having milk as a drink, milkshakes, cheese in sandwich, cheese added to dishes like pizza etc.
f. Omega-3 and Omega-6
These are important for baby’s brain and eyes. Oily fish, white fish, some vegetable oils used in small amount in cooking contain these two nutrients. Other sources of fatty acids are meat, chicken, eggs, vegetables and cereals etc.
In a nutshell, to stay healthy during pregnancy, one should add the following to their diet:
Intake of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis is good to avoid problem of constipation.
Foods that contain carbohydrates like bread, rice, potatoes and oats etc should be consumed to get enough energy for baby.
Foods like meat, fish and eggs are very important and should be consumed because they contain proteins which is an important nutrient.
Fatty foods like ice-cream and chocolates should be taken in small quantity as these are unhealthy for baby and the mother.
Intake of milk and yogurt is essential because these are rich in calcium.
Green leafy vegetables, beans and peas etc are good source of folic acid and should be consumed during pregnancy.
All foods containing iron like fish, eggs, pulses and spinach are very healthy and good to avoid deficiency of blood in body.
Citrus fruits like oranges are good source of vitamin C. Fresh juices can be taken to get enough Vitamin C.
To keep bones healthy, Vitamin D rich foods should be consumed like milk, fish, breakfast cereals etc.
All the above mentioned foods are not the only foods important in pregnancy. Pregnant women should have knowledge about variety of foods that can help them in maintaining their health as well as the baby’s health. The foods that are taken during pregnancy can have huge impacts on development and growth of baby so it is very important to make good food choices in pregnancy. If good food is taken by mother then the baby will also be healthy and active.
Washing your hands before using any food is very important. While cooking meat, fish and eggs, you should wash your hands with hot water using soap for at least 20 seconds. It is good to frequently wash hands and kitchen surfaces to prevent spread of bacteria. Keep refrigerator clean to prevent spread of bacteria from one food to another food. Defrost frozen foods in cold water or in microwave. Don’t defrost the frozen food at room temperature. Avoid lightly cooked egg and egg products. Make sure to cook eggs until both whites and yolks are solid. Wash the egg dishes properly. Wash fruits and vegetables properly before using them or before cooking. Fish is an excellent source of Omega-3 fats and is very important for development of a baby’s brain but avoid eating fish that contains high level of mercury as it can be harmful for baby’s developing nervous system. It is good to maintain a balanced diet. Over intake of a product can be harmful. For example Vitamin A is essential to strengthen the immune system and it is good to eat fruits and vegetables that contain Vitamin A. Vitamin A from these products is enough during pregnancy and over intake of this in form of supplements is not good and should be avoided. Fish liver oil supplements should also be avoided in pregnancy. Avoid too much intake of caffeine. Limit caffeine to 300 milligrams which is equal to 2 cups of coffee and 6 cups of tea because too much caffeine causes frequent urination, dehydration and increased heart rate which is not good for a woman in pregnancy. Cook meat properly until there is no pink or red blood left in it. If you like eating peanuts and foods containing peanuts (e.g. peanut butter) then you can eat it but make sure that you are not allergic to such foods. Doctors suggest not taking peanuts if one has a family history of allergy and asthma because it may cause allergy in baby too. Boil milk before drinking it. Don’t drink unpasteurized milk or anything made out of it. Avoid herbal remedies and preparations unless a good qualified and experienced doctor has advised you that they are safe as some of them are not suitable during pregnancy.