By Swati Mehra
Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful phases in a woman’s life. It’s the time which is most cherished and largely spent in pampering sessions and planning for the arrival of the little bundle. It’s also the time when the mommy-to-be, and all those around her, should focus towards a healthy, well-nourished pregnancy.
Once you're pregnant and "eating for two", you start second-guessing every single item in your grocery cart. Pregnancy is the time when the body needs additional nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy is very crucial, since a diet lacking in key nutrients may negatively affect the baby’s development. Poor eating habits and excess weight gain may also increase the risk of gestational diabetes or birth complications. Put simply, choosing healthy, nutritious foods help ensure that both mom and baby are in the best of health. It also makes it a lot easier for mommies to lose the pregnancy weight after giving birth.
Here are a few highly nutritious foods to eat when during pregnancy. This list would help you rest assured that you're starting your baby on a safe and healthy diet from the get-go.
1. Dairy Products
Dairy products, especially yoghurt, are a great choice for pregnant women. Dairy is the best dietary source of calcium and provides high amounts of phosphorus, various B vitamins, magnesium and zinc, and, help meet the increased protein and calcium needs. Yoghurt is particularly beneficial for pregnant women. Some varieties also contain probiotic bacteria, which support digestive health.
Legumes include lentils, peas, beans, chickpeas, soybeans and peanuts. This group of food are great sources of folate (Vitamin B9), fibre and many other nutrients. Folate is a very important nutrient during pregnancy and may reduce the risk of some birth defects and diseases.
Oats and Supergrains like Millets also contain a fair amount of protein and calcium. Millets should be eaten best during the second and third trimesters which is best during pregnancy. They are enriched with fibre, antioxidants, iron, zinc, magnesium, copper and vitamin B.
4. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are very rich in beta-carotene, a plant compound that is converted into vitamin A in our bodies. Vitamin A is very important for healthy fetal development. Furthermore, sweet potatoes contain fibre, which increases fullness, reduce blood sugar spikes and improve digestive health and mobility.
5. Eggs and Lean Meats
Eggs are incredibly nutritious and the ultimate health food, as they contain a little bit of almost every nutrient you need. They are packed with high-quality protein, along with many vitamins and minerals and are a great way to increase the overall nutrient intake. Meats like chicken are also excellent sources of high-quality protein.
6. Broccoli and Dark, Leafy Greens
Broccoli and dark, green vegetables, such as kale and spinach, contain many of the nutrients essential for expecting mothers. These include fibre, Vitamin C, K, A, calcium, iron, folate and potassium. Broccoli and leafy greens are rich in antioxidants and contain plant compounds that benefit the immune system and digestion. Due to their high fibre content, these vegetables also help prevent constipation, which is a very common problem amongst pregnant women.
7. Fish Liver Oil
Fish liver oil is made from the oily liver of fish, most often cod. These are very rich in the omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for fetal brain and eye development. These are also very high in vitamin D and can also be supplemented through tablets that are easily available in medical stores.
Berries are packed with water, healthy carbs, high amounts of vitamin C, fibre and antioxidants. They provide a lot of flavour and nutrition and act as a great snack but with relatively few calories. Berries have a relatively low glycemic index value, hence not cause major spikes in blood sugar.
Avocados contain high amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids and are high in fibre, Vitamins, potassium and copper. Thanks to their high content of healthy fats, folate and potassium, avocados are a great choice for pregnant women. They also help relieve leg cramps, a side effect of pregnancy for some women.
10. Dried Fruit
Dried fruit is highly beneficial for pregnant women since they are small and nutrient-dense. They are generally high in calories and fibre, and a single serving can provide a large percentage of the recommended intake of many vitamins and minerals, including folate, iron and potassium. They’re natural laxatives which are helpful in relieving constipation. However, these also contain high amounts of natural sugar, hence one should avoid the candied varieties and keep a tab on the quantities consumed. Slurrp Farm Nut Powder is a rich source of minerals like copper, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc.
While one needs to eat well during pregnancy, it’s also extremely important to stay properly hydrated. A natural wonder, one can’t ignore the benefits of water. Increasing your water intake helps relieve constipation and reduce the risk of urinary tract infections, both very common during pregnancy.
What you eat during pregnancy affects your energy and well-being and directly affects the health and development of the baby. Since calorie and nutrient needs are increased for an expectant mother, it’s very important to go in for the right diet full of healthy foods. While much of the preparation for pregnancy and birth are focused on avoiding risks, do remember that the way you eat throughout pregnancy can boost your baby’s IQ, lower their future disease and obesity risk, make birth easier and less painful and help you recover faster post-birth. Go ahead and follow these nutritional guidelines to find out how to give your baby the best start in life.