Eating a range of foods throughout the day is always important to make sure you get the nutrition that both you and your baby need. What a woman eats and drinks while pregnant is the main source of nourishment for her infant. Experts, therefore, recommend that balanced diet of a pregnant woman should include a variety of healthy foods and drinks to provide a baby’s growth and development needs with important nutrients. Here is a look at the food groups and some suggested methods for healthy pregnancy meals.
What Does Balanced Mean?
Eating right all the time can be difficult. We want to aim for the chips, or the steak, or the doughnut. Or all of this. But there are crazy health benefits to a proper diet. (These benefits are sometimes difficult to tease apart, as people who eat healthily usually also have healthy habits, but the benefits we have included here are quite well established).
To motivate you to put the cupcake down and pick up the broccoli, here are arguments for healthy eating:
- Eating right could lower your risk of some cancers. Several studies have found a high fruit and vegetable diet that might avoid diseases.
- A healthy diet can make the skin glow. Carbohydrate-rich foods with a high glycemic index (which means your blood sugar rises rapidly), may lead to acne, studies have found.
- What’s better than saving some money from your pocket to spend it on yourself later.
- Bad mood? Try eating some healthy food.
- A healthy diet helps to boost your energy and increases your stamina.
- Fewer chances of Type 2 Diabetes. Yes! you read it right. a balanced diet will help prevent this disease.
- This could prolong your life. People who eat better tend to live longer and have fewer problems in their well being and they love the extra time.
- A healthy diet might boost your immunity and prevent you from becoming sick.
- Eating right can protect your memory, lower your blood pressure and improve sleep quality.
Balanced Diet Importance During Pregnancy
There is no magic formula for a balanced diet of a pregnant woman. Baby’s prime source of nourishment is what the mother eats and drinks during pregnancy. What does diet mean while pregnant? When we’re referring to balance diet during pregnancy, we don’t talk about limiting calories or trying to lose weight. Dieting to lose weight during pregnancy can be dangerous to you and your infant, particularly since a weight loss diet can limit important nutrients such as iron, folic acid, and other important vitamins and minerals.
The foods that are rich in protein include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, tofu, cheese, milk, nuts, and seeds. So, it is highly recommended by the experts that balanced diet of a pregnant woman should include nutritious foods and beverages that could provide essential nutrients for the baby’s proper growth. Find out what nutrients are most needed by your body and get them for yourself. You’ll normally have to eat an additional 300 calories per day.
10 Foods to Eat on a Balanced Diet of a Pregnant Woman
Pregnant women must make sure that the diet they are taking is providing the baby with the proper nutrients crucial for the baby’s growth. They also need to make sure her body is healthy enough to cope with the changes that are taking place. Some women’s diets may be influenced by ethical beliefs, personal preferences, or health conditions, and consulting with a doctor is an important part of pregnancy diet preparation.
During breastfeeding, the goal is most of the time to consume nutritious foods. The following five food groups are emphasized that is, citrus, potatoes, healthy fats, whole grains, and dairy products.
1. Lean Meat
Protein amino acids are the building blocks of every cell within the bodies of your and your infant. High-protein foods often hold your hunger at bay by stabilizing your blood sugar, so you should reach for three servings of protein (about 75 grams) a day. As lean mean is rich in iron, it becomes an amazing option to include it in the balance diet of a pregnant woman. The iron is very important in developing your baby’s red blood cells along with supporting yours as well. A little goes a long way so add some steak, pork or other soups filled with vegetables, salads, and rice or noodle dishes.
Do you not eat meat? Vegetarian dishes rich in iron include dark leafy greens, cooked dried beans, sweet potatoes, lentils, dried fruit, and yogurt.
AB vitamin called folate (or folic acid whether you use it in a supplement) is one of the most important nutrients for pregnant women, and lentils are filled with this. Folate is essential for the development of your baby’s brain and nervous system and has a strong protective effect against neural tube defects such as spina bifida, a birth disease that reveals part of the spine. Lentils also contain calcium, iron and vitamin B6.
Tip: Because the value of folate is so important, and most beneficial very early in pregnancy (usually before you even realize you’ve conceived it) most cereals, noodles, bread, and rice foods are now enriched with folic acid, and it’s a major ingredient in pregnancy supplements, making lentils a great addition to the balanced diet of a pregnant woman.
Your baby’s developing bones require calcium, and you need it to keep yours healthy and help your muscles and nerves function. Target about 1,200 milligrams each day (that would be four servings). One of the best bets on you? Yogurt, cup for cup, it contains just as much calcium as milk, plus protein and folic acid packed. Blend milk with strawberries into smoothies, sprinkle with granola in a great meal, add sour cream or mayo with sandwich fillings, dips, and salad dressings, or just scoop it out of the cardboard.
4. Wild salmon
If you’re uncertain about the laws on fish and pregnancy, you’re not alone. Over the years, there have been plenty of conflicting views.
Fish is safe to the heart! But wait… it’s full of mercury, too. Again, fish is filled with DHA which is child-friendly! But not so quickly, it’s loaded with PCBs, too.
Then what’s the true fish dish? The bottom line is that having enough of the right types for both you and your baby is not only safe but also advised. However, due to mercury and other toxins present in fatty fish, pregnant women are generally recommended to restrict their intake of seafood to twice a week.
Have you heard conflicting salmon advisories too? Salmon is one of the best DHA providers nature has to offer. But not to feast on the high levels of PCBs often found in farmed salmon, choose wild (which also contains more of those healthy omega-3 fats) or organic farmed salmon to make sure you don’t. Prepare with acidic ingredients such as sour cream, fruit salsa or lemon juice or serve them fresh.
5. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are quite rich in beta-carotene, a plant product that your body transforms into vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for growth and the development of most tissues and cells. It is of great importance to healthy development in the womb. It helps fetus to mature properly. Also, they are an excellent source of fiber, an important nutrient during pregnancy. Pregnant women tend to complain of constipation, which is common during pregnancy, which can be kept in check by adding a sweet potato thus making it an important addition in the balanced diet of a pregnant woman.
Eggs are the perfect healthy food because they provide just about every nutrient you need. Eating eggs during pregnancy is healthy, provided they are fried or pasteurized to the fullest. Raw or under cooked eggs contain harmful bacteria that are likely to cause food poisoning, such as salmonella. Cooking and pan-frying the eggs can kill the bacteria, and reduce the risk of salmonella toxicity.
7. Fish liver oil
Fish liver oil is made from cod fatty liver, most often cod. The oil is very rich in the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA which are vital for both the growth of the baby’s brain and eye. Cod liver oil consumption during early pregnancy was related to higher birth weight and a lower risk of disease later in the baby’s life. A single serving of fish liver oil (one tablespoon or 15 ml) contains more than just the required amount of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and vitamin A. Fish liver oil can be especially an important addition in to the balanced diet of a pregnant woman who do not eat seafood.
Avocados are an uncommon fruit because a lot of monounsaturated fatty acids are in them. Avocados are a delicious way to get your supplements packed with folate, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin B6 (which improves baby’s tissue and brain growth, as well as soothes morning sickness). Spread some ripe avocado as a nutritious substitute for mayo on your whole-grain roll.
9. Dried fruits
Nuts are chock-filled with essential minerals (copper, manganese, magnesium, selenium, zinc, potassium, and even calcium) and vitamin E, and they are easy to store, making them a tasty, snack on the go. Although they’re high in fat, they’re generally good-for-you kind. So go crazy with nuts in a nutshell (a little if you’re growing quickly, freely if you’re gaining slowly). Dried fruit can be of great benefit to pregnant women, as they are small and abundant with nutrients and be of a great importance in the balanced diet of a pregnant woman.
Well, technically it’s not a portion of food, but having enough is as vital to your well being as any nutrient. For you and your growing baby, water has a lot of benefits: building new cells, supplying nutrients, flushing toxins and much more. Water also helps your tummy feel full, so you are less likely to reach for chips or cookies and during pregnancy, it can help with nausea and vomiting. Plus, the dehydration dangers are real: it can increase the risk of early labor. So, pour in one of those water bottles of stainless steel and take it wherever you go.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that a pregnant woman should take more calcium, folic acid, iron and, protein. Here’s why these four nutrients count.
- Folic Acid
Folic acid is a B vitamin that is essential to avoid the baby’s brain and spinal cord. The recommended amount of folic acid can be difficult to obtain from food alone. We encourage women during breastfeeding to increase the amount of folic acid to 600 micro-grams per day, which is commonly found in a routine prenatal vitamin.
The mineral is used to shape the bones and teeth of an infant. If a pregnant woman does not eat enough calcium, the nutrient will be extracted from the mother’s stocks in her bones and supplied to the baby to fulfill the additional pregnancy requirements.
If the mother is vegan, the following calcium-rich foods should be considered;
Soy milk infused with calcium and other vegetable milk and juices, tofu set with calcium, soybeans, bok-choy, broccoli, collards, Chinese cabbage, okra, mustard greens, beans, kale, and soy-nuts.
The most vital organs such as the brain and the heart need protein to develop inside the baby and thus a mother should include protein-rich foods in their diet. Foods such as meat, poultry, fish, peas, eggs, nuts, and dried beans are a rich source of protein and can satisfy the baby’s protein needs if taken daily.
Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin. Within red blood cells, hemoglobin is the main protein and oxygen-carrying pigment; it carries oxygen throughout the body.
Through breastfeeding, the amount of blood in the mother’s body raises by almost 50 percent-she requires enough oxygen to produce more hemoglobin for all that extra blood. When iron stores are low, the mother may become anemic and there is an increased risk of:
- Preterm delivery.
- Low-weight baby.
- Newborn death.
- Depression, exhaustion, and annoyance in mother during the pregnancy.
If the mother is anemic later in the pregnancy, there is an increased risk that she will lose a lot of blood when she gives birth.
Thus to meet the iron needs of the body a mother should include iron-rich foods such as meat, fish, poultry, dried beans, peas, cereal infused with iron.
Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy
- Vitamin A – Pregnant women should avoid consuming “too much” vitamin A because it could hurt their children. The exception to this rule is when they are advised by a doctor for a particular reason.
- High Mercury Fishes – Fishes such as shark, swordfish, mackerel, and tuna must not be consumed more than once or twice a month due to the high mercury content in them.
- Under cooked or Raw Seafood – Raw fish and shellfish may become infected with parasites and bacteria. Some of these can cause negative health consequences and harm to both the mother and the unborn child.
- Raw Eggs – Raw or new eggs can be infected with salmonella, leading to diarrhea and an increased risk of premature birth or death. Instead, pasteurized eggs can be used.
- Caffeine – Pregnant women should restrict their consumption of caffeine to 200 mg a day, which is about 2–3 cups of coffee. During pregnancy, high consumption of caffeine can reduce fetal development and induce premature birth.
- Alcohol – Neither should pregnant women drink alcohol. Drinking alcohol may raise the risk of abortion, stillbirth and a condition of fetal alcohol syndrome.
Bottom Line – Balanced Diet of A Pregnant Woman
The bottom line is Proper food hygiene and preparation, particularly during pregnancy, are always recommended. This isn’t always easy to do though, as some foods may already be infected before you buy them. So be extra cautious because first should come to your child’s health besides yours.
“Loving a baby is a circular business, a kind of feedback loop. The more you give the more you get and the more you get the more you feel like giving.” – Penelope Leach.