Healthy eating during pregnancy should be practiced at all times to be able to give proper nourishment to the unborn child.
In the first trimester, a woman will gain 2 to 5 pounds and about 1 pound for every succeeding week up to the third trimester. A healthy diet is very important because this will ensure that the woman is getting the appropriate weight gain during the time of pregnancy and it will also result to successful birth to healthy babies.
There will be times when a mother will experience bouts of nausea or loss of appetite making regular full meals hard to take. When this happens, small but frequent meals or snacking with healthy foods is recommended to make sure that both the mother and the baby is still getting the required amount nutrients for the day.
The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine recommends a prescribed level of proper vitamins and minerals for pregnant women to make sure that the unborn child is getting the proper amount of nutrients to develop their organs, bones and cells and to get a good start at living a long and healthy life.
A well-balanced diet is the key in getting all the “good stuff” into the body. Listed below are the most vital nutrients with its food sources; and the foods that a woman should and should not eat during the course of pregnancy.
ESSENTIAL VITAMINS AND MINERALS
Vitamin C: is an antioxidant that fights free radicals from damaging cells in the body; it aids in the absorption of iron; and also boosts immunity. Sources: citrus fruits, red and green bell pepper, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, and papaya.
Folic Acid (Vitamin B9): is a water-soluble vitamin and naturally occurring in foods which helps support the placenta. It is also responsible in preventing various birth defects such as mental retardation, cleft palate and spinal bifida. Sources: dark leafy greens like spinach or kale, broccoli, citrus fruits, fruit juices, beets, dried beans, peas, nuts.
Thiamin (Vitamin B1): this water-soluble vitamin raises energy level and helps regulate the nervous system. Sources: Whole grain, fortified cereals, pork, wheat germ, organ meats, eggs, berries, rice, pasta, nuts, legumes.
Calcium: it helps in the baby’s bone development; prevent blood clots and helps in lowering the mother’s blood pressure; It also aids in muscle and nerves function. Sources: milk, cheese, yogurt, dark leafy greens, sardines with bones, calcium-fortified drinks like soy milk and fruit juices.
Iron: is a mineral which helps in the production of hemoglobin, prevents anemia, low birth weight, and premature delivery. It provides needed energy and strength; and it also promotes heart health. Sources: spinach, pork, beef, dried fruits, wheat germ, iron-fortified cereals or grains.
Zinc: helps in the production of insulin and enzymes. It also aids in the rapid cell growth during pregnancy and helps strengthen the immune system. Sources: beef, pork, chicken, whole grains, beans, nuts, milk, cheese, yogurt, spinach, tofu.
FOODS TO EAT
- fresh fruits and vegetables
- whole grains
- fish and seafood with lower mercury content – salmon, shrimp, canned light tuna
- poultry – lean cuts of chicken or turkey
- lean meat – pork or beef
- eggs – cooked
- milk and dairy products
- beans, legumes, and nuts
- healthy oils
FOODS TO AVOID
- food high in carbs and calories (ice cream, chocolates, cakes, and pastries) – it may cause blood sugar spikes and undesirable weight gain.
- fatty foods (French fries, burgers, pizza, and donuts) – it may raise blood cholesterol levels and triglycerides which increases the risk of high blood pressure.
- raw meat or fish – eating meat that are not properly cooked can increase risk of Salmonella or toxoplasmosis.
- raw eggs – used in eggnog, hollandaise sauce, mayonnaise can increase risk of Salmonella.
- some varieties of fish – fish with higher amounts of mercury, these includes swordfish, tilefish, and shark. Mercury is a harmful substance that can affect baby’s nervous system.
- soda, coffee, sweetened and alcoholic beverages – these drinks should be avoided because it contains high amount of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol which is not good for both the mother and child.
You can see more on weight gain in pregnancy here