What's on your plate, mommy-to-be?

What's on your plate, mommy-to-be?

The first three months of pregnancy are important as most of the physical and mental growth of the baby takes place during this time. The internal and external organs as well as the nervous system of the baby are formed in this period. Likewise, the baby’s growth is rapid during the last three months of pregnancy. A nutritious diet during this period is essential for normal birth weight of the baby.

A total of 2,200-2,800 calories is essential for a healthy pregnancy. So, here’s what I suggest: Eat as wide a variety of food as possible, but in moderation. Prenatal vitamins, especially iron, calcium and folic acid, are often prescribed routinely through out the pregnancy by the doctor. Try to have three meals every day or six smaller meals if you have nausea or heartburn.

Dairy products

Your meal plan should include up to four servings of dairy products each day. Dairy is an important source of calcium and vitamin D. You can choose from milk or yogurt; even cheese can count as a dairy serving. Skimmed and semi-skimmed milk contain as much calcium as whole milk. If you have problems digesting milk, then you can opt for paneer, curd or buttermilk. You can add milk instead of water when kneading dough for rotis.
You should have one or two servings of lean protein, which includes foods like chicken, fish or seafood. Some forms of seafood — particularly fish — may contain mercury and aren’t safe during pregnancy.

A vegetarian diet during pregnancy can provide all the necessary vitamins, minerals, proteins and other nutrients you need. If you are vegetarian, you should take extra care to have enough iron and calcium.

Good sources of iron include pulses, green vegetables, bread and cereals, potatoes, raisins, dates and broccoli.

Increase your intake of vitamin C with a glass of fresh fruit juice. If taken after eating an iron-rich meal, the vitamin C helps the body to absorb iron better. Avoid drinking tea with iron-rich foods as it hampers the absorption of iron.

Leafy green vegetables are also good sources of calcium. The recommended daily amount of calcium during pregnancy and breast feeding increases significantly from 800 to 1200 mg.

Folic acid is the most vital nutrient  that pregnant women need. It is required for the development of the baby’s nervous system, especially in the first few weeks. Folic acid is found in dark green, leafy vegetables like spinach or kale, liver, yeast, beans and citrus fruits, and in fortified cereals and bread. Folic acid is easily lost while cooking, so steam vegetables.

Constipation and piles are common during  pregnancy, but fibre-rich foods will help prevent such problems. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, brown rice, nuts, and cereals including oats.

Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. Pregnant women should drink at least six to eight glasses of water a day. Many women say they prefer to drink juice but that could lead to weight gain if the juice has added sugars.

You should neither gorge nor give up your favourite foods.
Processed or canned foods, snacks and sugar-packed desserts shouldn’t be regular in your diet.

Make sensible food choices. Opt for a fruit instead of ice cream or drink a glass of badam/ kesar milk instead of feasting on gajar halwa.

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