Congratulations! As an expectant mom, you are now embarking on the greatest journey you will ever take — your pregnancy! The next nine months will be full of excitement and expectation for you. It is very crucial to have a healthy and happy beginning of your pregnancy. Part of your responsibility is to ensure proper nutrition is met before, during, and after pregnancy. Below are ways to prepare for a healthy pregnancy diet.A Healthy Pregnancy Diet Equals a Healthy Baby and a Healthy Mom
You don’t need to go on a special diet, but it’s important to eat a variety of different foods every day to get the right balance of nutrients that you and your baby need. You should also avoid certain foods in pregnancy.
You will probably find that you are more hungry than usual, but you don’t need to ‘eat for two’ – even if you are expecting twins or triplets. Have a healthy breakfast every day because this can help you to avoid snacking on foods that are high in fat and sugar.
Eating healthily often means just changing the amounts of different foods you eat so that your diet is varied, rather than cutting out all your favourites. You will need to be careful with your diet if you develop gestational diabetes – your doctor or midwife will advise you.
Fruit and vegetables
Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables because these provide vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre, which helps digestion and prevents constipation. Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day – these can be fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced. Always wash them carefully. Cook vegetables lightly in a little water, or eat them raw but well washed, to get the benefit of the nutrients they contain.
Starchy foods (carbohydrates)
Starchy foods are an important source of vitamins and fibre, and are satisfying without containing too many calories. They include bread, potatoes, breakfast cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, maize, millet, oats, sweet potatoes, yams and cornmeal. These foods should be the main part of every meal. Eat wholemeal instead of processed (white) varieties when you can.
Sources of protein include meat (but avoid liver), fish, poultry, eggs, beans, pulses and nuts. Eat some protein every day. Choose lean meat, remove the skin from poultry, and cook it using only a little fat. Make sure eggs, poultry, pork, burgers and sausages are cooked all the way through. Check that there is no pink meat, and that juices have no pink or red in them. Try to eat two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily fish such as sardines or mackerel. There are some types of fish you should avoid in pregnancy.
Dairy foods such as milk, cheese, fromage frais and yoghurt are important because they contain calcium and other nutrients that your baby needs. Choose low-fat varieties wherever possible. For example, semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, low-fat yoghurt and half-fat hard cheese. Aim for two to three portions a day. There are some cheeses to avoid.
Eating the above-mentioned nutritious foods will help lower the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and osteoporosis that many women may face after pregnancy and later in life. Interestingly, a study showed that when a mother eats healthily during her gestational period, it minimizes the risk of obesity in infants despite the mother’s size.
“We are finding that the cycle of obesity likely begins in the womb, however, we are also finding that obesity does not necessarily beget obesity,” Kjersti M. Aagaard, M.D., Ph.D., study author from the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, said.
The bottom line is that you are what you eat. All the nutrients required to properly develop your baby come from the food you choose to eat. A healthy gestational diet does not need to be unbearable considering there are foods to avoid. Enjoy the journey and keep in mind that it is YOU and YOUR BABY who will benefit from good sustenance.
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