Healthy eating is one of the biggest concerns in pregnancy, because expectant mothers assume the responsibility for their own health, as well as for the health of their unborn baby. This may seem like a challenging task going on for nine months, since future mothers need to make sure that the baby’s arrival will go as smoothly as possible, and that the baby will develop and grow properly before it is delivered.
The first thing pregnant women have to bear in mind is that their daily calorie intake must be increased by 300 calories. Morning sickness and cravings typical of early pregnancy pose another challenge to maintaining a healthy diet in the first trimester. Still, following the daily healthy eating regimen is a sacrifice that every mother has to make.
A balanced diet should be planned with the help of a dietitian. It is advisable to refrain from the raw meat, deli meats, soft cheese and types of fish with high mercury levels, as these can cause food poisoning in pregnancy. Alcohol and smoking are prohibited during pregnancy, in order to avoid birth defects, premature birth and low-weight babies. Pregnant women should also restrict their caffeine consumption to not more than 300 mg per day, so they must cut down on chocolate, coffee and colas.
Foods with the high fiber content are an absolute must for a pregnant woman. Eating experts recommend about 5-10 servings of fiber containing food for expectant women. Raw fruit, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, rice, whole wheat bread, cereals and cooked beans are some of the products that will satisfy most of the baby’s requirements. Further, these foods provide the necessary energy for the mother. The daily diet should also include proper amounts of fish, meat, poultry and dairy products.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are absolutely essential during pregnancy. Calcium is one of the nutrients that is indispensable in an every day diet of a pregnant woman, so milk and dairy products, tofu, sardines, broccoli, spinach, almonds and fish paste are some of the foods that must be included in the diet as natural sources of calcium. Most of these foods will provide abundant amounts of protein and omega-3 fatty acid, while fruits and vegetables should be consumed to supply sufficient quantities of vitamin C.
To avoid complications during pregnancy, it is important to consume proper amounts of vitamin D and folic acid. Some of the best sources of vitamin D are different sorts of fish including tuna, mackerel, sardines, canned salmon, eggs, margarine and fortified types of breakfast cereals. Pregnant women also have an increased need for iron, and this essential mineral can be found in most of the foods listed above.
Instead of 3-4 whole meals, the food should be distributed into 5-6 mini meals. Some daily recommendations include the consumption of 1200 mg of calcium, 70 mg of vitamin C, 27 mg of iron and 6-8 glasses of water.