Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful and life-altering events in a woman’s life. It’s like two lives in one body. And hence, you must feed the new life through your own body and within your body for those nine months. Most elders insist on eating double the quantity, and they merry in feeding whatever the pregnant lady demands, be it fried chicken or Pani puri! A healthy and balanced diet is essential for delivering a healthy baby. Read below to get an idea of a diet plan before and during pregnancy.
Pre-pregnancy Diet Plan
The mother’s health will definitely reflect on her baby. It’s essential to prepare your body to brave the wonderful experience of pregnancy. Below are a few tips on eating smartly before conception and deliver a healthy baby:
- Welcome green leafy vegetables and whole grains: They are rich in folic acid (Folate or Vitamin B9). Folic acid is very important for fertility and healthy conception. The recommended intake before conception is about 400 mcg daily. This has found to reduce the risk of the baby being born with neural tube defects such as spina bifida (a serious condition in which the brain and spinal cord are not completely developed). You may want to consult your obstetrician for any folic acid supplements.
- Say ‘good-bye’ to Junk food: Maida (white flour), excess refined sugar and fried fatty foods must be tamed down. These add unnecessary weight gain and dispose of your baby to developing obesity. With the changing hormones, such foodstuffs are likely to result in acne. They are also found to increase nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Rather, choose healthy options when eating out, such as grilled chicken over fried chicken!
- Increase protein intake: Like folic acid, protein is another nutrient essential for fertility and conception. It’s comparatively easier for non-vegetarian to fill their daily quota of proteins from eggs, chicken, and fish. Vegetarians or vegans can emphasize on pulses, legumes, tofu, soybean chunks (Nutella soybean chunks), milk and beans
- Omega 3 fatty acids: It’s not only good for healthy regulation of cholesterol, lustrous hair, and great skin of the mother but boosts brain development of the fetus. These are healthy fats and orchestrate the functioning of hormones. Fish (esp. salmon) is an excellent source of omega three fatty acids. Vegetarians can resort to flax seeds, walnuts and chia seeds easily available in the market
- Make friends with milk and milk products: Dairy products such as milk, cottage cheese (paneer), curd, butter, and cheese, etc. are rich in calcium and protein. Why buy calcium supplements when you can easily obtain it from various delicious forms? Make sure to mix low-fat dairy products with high-fat varieties. Totally fat-free products are devoid of all the goodness
- Iron-rich food: Green leafy vegetables, meat, pulses, and dried fruits can provide you with the required amount to transit into a healthy pregnancy. Since most women in India are anemic, it’s preferable to get the Blood count done and discuss the report with your doctor. Remember, Vitamin C is essential for the absorption of iron by the body. So don’t forget to sip a glass of fresh orange juice or have kiwi and berries!
- Cease caffeine and alcohol: This is the time to wean your body from espresso and vodka shots. Both of these may affect your fertility and at later stages, harm the development of the baby. Remember, Caffeine is not only present in coffee but also in chocolates, cold drinks, and even green tea. Start cutting down. Alcohol has been linked to premature delivery, mental retardation, birth defects, and low birth weight babies
- Opt for bright multi-colored foods: Red, Yellow and green capsicums, carrots, vegetable salads consisting of cucumber, tomatoes, mushroom, lettuce, beetroot, cabbage, coriander, etc. topped with yummy salad dressing or freshly squeezed lemon juice is the best food for you and your future baby
- Try fruit salad: Mango, apple, cherries, banana, pineapple, guava, strawberries, etc. whatever you like, make sure to include them in your daily diet. Try having an apple in the morning, a banana in the noon and maybe melons in the night. They are high in antioxidants and loaded with essential vitamins and nutrients.
- Never skip meals: Whether your work pressure demands this or mood swing, do not skip any meals. Stick to at least three meals a day. Ensure a proper supply of nutrients to the body which must be replenished with food for optimum functioning
Do visit your obstetrician and discuss the diet. Depending on your physical condition, she may be able to throw more light on your dietary needs.
Diet During Pregnancy
Many people advocate going for the concept of ‘eating for two.’ Well, this is not the right way as the baby does not need a complete adult diet for growth and development. Eating better does not translate into eating more. Actually, you need only 300 extra calories every day during the second trimester and 450 each day during the final trimester. If you are overweight, or underweight, your needs and food can vary, depending on how much is optimum. The old school of thought may translate the need of eating during pregnancy to intake of empty calories in the form of sweets, ghee, and oil, etc. Moderation is fine, but indulging too much in empty calories might not be a good choice. To make the task easier of planning meals during pregnancy and avoid arguments with the elders, below is a list of foods recommended for each stage of your pregnancy:
What To Eat During The First Trimester of Pregnancy?
Foods high in folic acid, Vitamin B6 and iron
- Vegetables: spinach, lentils, pulses, soybean chunks
- Snacks: cornflakes, oats, dhokla, muesli, baked potatoes
- Fruits: chikoo, mango, pomegranate, orange
- Drinks: orange juice, fresh lime juice, lassi
- Dried fruits: dates, raisins, figs, almond
These foodstuffs help in the healthy development of the baby’s nervous system, relieve morning sickness, and ensure sufficient blood supply for you and your baby.
Note: Excessive consumption of foodstuffs containing caffeine, tannin, and multi-grains may hamper absorption of calcium and iron in the body.
What To Eat During The Second Trimester of Pregnancy?
Foods high in calcium, Vitamin D, Omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin A
- Dairy products: milk, curd, paneer, cheese, eggs
- Dried fruits: Almonds, walnuts, figs, dates
- Fruits: bananas, oranges, watermelon, apple
- Snacks: oats, curd rice, sprouted pulses (usal), uttapam with rasam, sautéed mushrooms, Tofu tikka
- Seafood: mackerel, haddock, salmon, and prawns
- Drinks: thandai, buttermilk, milkshakes, fruit smoothies, beetroot & carrot juice
- Vegetables: carrots, sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables
These will help in developing healthy bones and teeth of the baby, brain development as well as vision, skin, and lungs.
What To Eat During The First Trimester of Pregnancy?
Foods high in carbohydrate and Vitamin K
- Easily digestible snacks: Thepla, soybean nugget biryani, yogurt
- Vegetables: Spinach, fenugreek, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower
- Fresh fruit juices: Tomato, apple, mango, amla, beetroot, carrot
- Fruits: Pomegranate, grapes, cantaloupe melon (kharbooja), figs
- Coconut water, buttermilk, lassi, fresh lime water
These will ensure sufficient energy supply during the last critical months, and Vitamin K helps in blood clotting. These are essential for delivery and breastfeeding.
Note: Avoid spicy foods and too much pineapple as these may induce labor
Is diet coke safe during pregnancy?
Coke has been a popular topic of discussion for health critics. The high sugar content, caffeine, pesticides, and Ramdeobaba’s demonstration of coke as toilet cleaner has attracted sufficient attention. In answer to the above, Diet Coke was launched, i.e. zero sugar but the same GREAT taste of coke! The fact is it’s still sweet because it contains artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame, Saccharin, and Sucralose. These non-caloric sweeteners, particularly Aspartame, has been linked with Phenylketonuria (metabolism disorder) and increase insulin levels in diabetic women. On the other hand, saccharin is found to be carcinogenic, i.e. causing cancer. Research conducted in Massachusetts indicates that prolonged use of such artificial sweeteners can damage the kidney.
So, if you must have it, then consume it in moderation and save it for extreme urges only. Why not think about coconut water, aam Panna, or fresh lime juice instead? They are natural and without any side-effects.
Twin Pregnancy Diet Plan
If you are one of the lucky ladies to bear two babies in one go, you must be more careful about your diet. Standard guidelines suggest consuming extra 300 calories for one baby in addition to those required by an adult woman. So for women carrying twins, this should range between 150-300 calories more for the second twin. In total of approx. 600 calories. These extra calories must always be obtained from healthy foods only (as described above).
You may want to emphasize nuts, fortified cereals, yogurt, eggs, spinach, and chicken.
The diet for ladies pregnant with twins doesn’t differ significantly from those pregnant with a single baby. However, your obstetrician may recommend extra folic acid, vitamin, calcium, Vitamin D, and iron supplements. Listen to the ideal weight you should attain when pregnant with twins. However, this varies from individual to individual.
Rather than going by weighing scale and specified calories, listen to your body, eat when you are hungry, and eat healthily. Never skip meals. Eat a nutritious, balanced diet rich in folic acid, calcium, iron, omega three fatty acids as well as iodine.
What to Eat During Diabetes in Pregnancy?
Diabetes is a condition characterized by the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin, which converts sugar in the blood to usable output. If sugar is not broken down, then the content of sugar becomes high, and this may harm your baby. You need to take particular care and consult your obstetrician and professional dietitian for your diet. They will decide if you must take insulin injections. Below are a few general guidelines:
- Don’t let your sugar level spike: Watch what you are eating and mix carbohydrate and high-calorie foods throughout the day rather than consuming in one meal.
- Opt for protein and fiber-rich diets: They satiate easily and give a feeling of a fuller tummy. Try chicken biryani, dal chawal or khichdi.
- Never skip meals: Eat frequently in smaller quantities. Fasting may cause you to eat more and carbohydrate-rich food. This also unbalances the sugar level and make you feel giddy or weak. Breakfast is very important, try healthier options such as eggs with multigrain bread and yogurt.
- Fruits: Have fruits such as banana, apple, pears, melons, guava, and berries during brunch.
- Prohibit these foods Diet coke, fruit juices, desserts (even those made with sugar-free), and milk in some cases. No sugar, honey, or artificial sweeteners too. They cause an instant increase in sugar levels.
- You can have pasta (made from durum wheat), brown rice, grains, and potatoes. Have a high protein diet and low in carbohydrates and sugar.
Arrange frequent check-ups with your obstetrician and immediately inform if you feel weak or giddy. As Bethenny Frankel correctly put, “Your diet is a bank account. Good food choices are good investments”. So eat healthy, live healthy, and deliver healthily!