Nutrition can be defined as the provision of all substances necessary for growth and for the maintenance of life and the health of body tissues. It is the act and science of the utilization of food nutrients for the body needs.
Every pregnant owe it to themselves to pay attention to what they eat at all times but more importantly when they are pregnant.
Your nutrition and diet play crucial roles:
- Important before, during and after pregnancy
- Good control of weight, blood pressure and blood glucose increase chances of healthy, normal weight, term infant
- Affects fetal and placental growth
- Affects maternal well-being and maternal outcomes
- Not getting sufficient micronutrients is responsible for premature birth, low birth weight, and other fetal problems
Good nutrition should begin before pregnancy to build up the immunity needed by the mother during pregnancy. The minimum recommended BMI for conceiving mothers is 20.8. Ideally, it should be between 20-26. During pregnancy, a woman should be careful with the food she eats. A woman should make a good decision about food and exercise that will benefit both the mother and the child growing inside her.
The woman should know that what she eats feeds the baby too. The baby shares nutrients from the mother through the placenta. Having the right diet can be a little difficult because of cravings pregnant develop during pregnancy. Some people crave food that when consumed in large quantity is detrimental to the child’s health.
A pregnant woman needs some certain amount of nutrients and vitamins to remain healthy and keep their unborn child safe. They can get these nutrients in food or supplements. Pregnant women should avoid vitamin A so as not to overdose the baby. There are natural means of procuring the right nutrients for the baby. There should be good control of weight, blood pressure and blood glucose which increases the chances of healthy, normal weight in the baby.
What Should You Eat During Pregnancy?
Research shows that pregnant and breast feeding women need 10 micrograms of vitamin C daily as well as 400 micrograms of folic acid.
So, first on the list is:
This supplement should be started at least one year before getting pregnant. It is recommended that any woman of childbearing age should include folic acid supplements in their diet because they may be ignorant of their pregnancy until it gets too late.
Good sources of folic acid are:
- Green leafy vegetables such as collards, spinach, dried peas, broccoli, turnip greens, and lettuces.
- Fortified cereals
- Wheat germ
- Sunflower seeds
- Brown rice
- Fruits such as oranges, tomato, bananas, cantaloupes, and avocados.
- Chicken liver
However liver products contain too much vitamin A so it should be totally avoided during pregnancy. Steam your vegetables to preserve the natural nutrients, don’t cook them. Veggies can also be made into salad.
Natural sources of vitamin C are:
- Fruits like mangoes, kiwis, watermelons, oranges, pineapple, papayas and grapes.
- Berries such as cranberries, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.
- Vegetables like green peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, cabbage, brussels sprouts and cauliflower.
- Leafy greens like turnip greens and spinach.
During pregnancy, it is advised that a pregnant woman should consume a small portion of at least one thing from each main food groups daily.
The groups are:
- Starchy foods
- Dairy products
- Foods high in fat or sugar
- Foods high in protein
- Fruits and vegetables
The Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
To give your baby the best start in life, there are some foods to avoid completely while cutting down on your consumption of others and some others that need to be well-cooked.
During your pregnancy, you should avoid cold meat and smoked fish because of listeria. You should also avoid liver products and eating shark, swordfish or marlin. You should avoid unpasteurized goat’s or sheep’s milk, including products made from them. Additionally, you should stop your consumption of mousses and homemade mayonnaise, as they usually contain undercooked egg.
Studies have shown that foods that every pregnant woman should completely remove from their diet or cut down, include tuna steaks. Have no more than 140grams of canned or cooked tuna weekly. You should also cut down on any foods that contain caffeine. You should not take more than 200mg of caffeine daily, which is approximately 2 mugs of instant coffee or a cup of filter coffee: 2 ½ cups of tea: 4 plain chocolate bars: 8 bars of milk chocolate: 5 cans of cola or 2 ½ energy drinks. I hope you got that? I simplified it by converting them in the different forms they can be found.
Other Healthy Options
Consider taking a fruit smoothie, 1/2 of a grapefruit, Muesli or Cheerios taken with skimmed milk (with skimmed milk) or some well-cooked scrambled eggs.
It is vital to continue with that healthy outlook and a flat bread sandwich with salad or some white meat could be an awesome choice. You might even want to try a fresh soup alongside that to add to those extra calories you need.
In the evening:
It might be a nice idea to integrate fish into your diet, or some sort of bean, to shoot up your protein. Other foods such as steak and nuts, as long as it is lean could be a great delight. Remember to keep it balanced, so if you have some meat, be sure to balance it with the right amount of vegetables.
You should not eat foods in large portions. You can add small snacks to your diet. You should go for fruit because it will help your diet in a big way. Importantly, consider veggies, fruit juice and nuts.
Essential Things to Note
Make sure you cook your food thoroughly before eating. Cook your meat or fish till all the pink is gone. Wash vegetables and fruits before eating them. You should always cook foods thoroughly before consumption. When boiling your egg, make sure it is solid before eating them. You should only consume between 200 and 300 extra calories daily.
Engaging in exercises during pregnancy is beneficial. It will help during labor, making it an easier process. You can take walks. Count your calories and make sure you don’t exceed your daily requirement.
If you have diabetes, it can be more difficult to choose the right diet for your baby and yourself. It is best to create a meal plan or timetable. Book a meeting with a certified dietician who can advise on what meal plan would be most suitable for you, based on your weight, height, level of glucose intolerance, and activity levels.
Remember, being pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the occasional treat here and there. But be reasonable about your choices of foods. Know your own body’s limits and what is good for you and your baby.