Your diet during pregnancy affects you and your baby’s health. For example, vegetables like spinach are rich in folate (which helps prevent neural tube defects) and fiber (which prevents constipation, one of the worst discomforts of pregnancy).
Here is a guide to some of the things that pregnant women should always include in their diet. Consider it one of your recipes for life—yours, and your baby’s.
Pregnancy diet tip # 1: DO Grab those whole grains!
Whole grain pastas, cereals and rice are rich in Vitamins B1, B2 and B3, which aid in digestion, as well as Vitamin B6, fiber, and zinc, which every expectant mom needs in daily energy production. These are also rich in folic acid and iron that are especially required to ensure proper fetal development and prevent birth defects.
A single serving of whole grains is equivalent to a slice of bread or half a cup of cooked rice.
Pregnancy diet tip # 2: DON’T go on carbo overload
Too many servings of rice and bread can make you gain too much weight, which can increase risk for gestational diabetes and labor complications. Monitor your servings and avoid ’empty’ carbs like those from cakes, white bread, sweets, and chips. A high-carbohydrate diet can put you at risk for gestational diabetes.
Pregnancy Diet tip # 3: DO Eat five servings of fresh veggies and fruits
Use the Color Code: you need green, orange and yellow on your plate. For example, carrots broccoli and a banana for dessert fills you up with potassium (which helps prevent fatigue), Vitamin C (which boosts your immune system) and calcium (for bone development.
Pregnancy Diet tip # 4: DON’T overcook your vegetables
Vegetables lose much of their nutrients if they are exposed to prolonged heat. So, sauté them very quickly, eat them raw (with a delicious dip), or serve them in a soup (all the nutrients go into the broth).
Pregnancy Diet tip # 5: DO drink milk
Milk is a strong source of calcium which your baby needs for strong bones and teeth; develop healthy muscles, heart, and nerves; and aid in proper enzyme activity. Look for low-fat milk and yoghurt.
If you don’t like drinking milk, try eating it: adding it to your oatmeal or to soup. Or, get a calcium-fortified orange juice.
Pregnancy Diet tip # 6: DON’T eat unpasteurized dairy products
These include milk and soft cheeses (brie, camembert, feta, goat, ricotta, etc…); packed salads; cold, smoked, and raw seafood (smoked salmon, oysters); pate; ham and other manufactured meats. Unpasteurized dairy products can contain listeria, a bacteria that has been linked to higher incidents of miscarriages
Pregnancy Diet tip # 7: DO eat nuts
Almonds, for example, are a good source of calcium needed for the development of strong bones and teeth as well as for the proper functioning of blood vessels, nerves and muscles. Walnuts are also rich in Omega 3 fatty acids that promote healthy heart. Nuts are also a great source of protein, which is a vital nutrient for the development of the fetus.
For a healthy snack combine dried fruits with nuts. You can also add nuts to salads and some vegetable dishes.
Pregnancy Diet Tip # 8: DON’T eat peanuts if you have a family history of allergies
Some studies show that people who are susceptible to allergy and consume a lot of peanuts during pregnancy can pass on a peanut allergy to the fetus. There are also other studies that link peanut consumption to a higher risk for asthma and eczema.
Pregnancy Diet Tip # 9: DO eat legumes
Legumes are high in protein and fiber and an excellent source of iron, folate, and magnesium. The iron can also help manage pregnancy fatigue, irritability and mood swings. Plus, your iron requirements double during pregnancy, from approximately 15mg to 30mg daily. You may get this from chickpeas/garbanzo beans, lentils, black beans, soybeans and kidney beans. Serve legumes in soups and salads or pureeing it for tasty spreads and dips.
Pregnancy Diet TIp # 10: DON’T take iron without adding fiber
The downside to iron is that it increases your risk for constipation. Compensate by increasing your fiber intake. Don’t take fiber supplements (in fact, don’t take any supplement without talking to your doctor). Get it naturally from cereal and leafy vegetables. Exercise and drinking a lot of water can also help keep your bowel movements regular and comfortable.
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