Pregnancy is a wonderful phase for you and your family. The moment there is pregnancy news in the family, lot of preparations start. Both you and your family starts thinking whether a baby girl or a baby boy will be born, how the baby will look, the colour of the baby’s eyes, hair, skin, so many questions start coming in their mind. And then you have all the elderly members of your family who come forward with their expert advice of what to eat and what to avoid. Whatever you are eating in this prolonged period of nine months is not only to satisfy your hunger but also for the physical and mental development of the baby.
For some unknown reason, pregnant women have strange cravings for food at strange time of the day. The reason is still quite unknown, maybe mood swings. Chips, hotdogs, burgers, cheese, fried foods and many more.
Today we’ll give you some suggestions on healthy food to eat while pregnant that you should follow for your health and your unborn baby’s development too.
Food pregnant women should eat
You can’t eat just anything and everything when you are pregnant. The diet that you had been following for so long needs to be modified for a healthy baby and you. So here’s a list of all the pregnant women food options that will help you achieve a good diet.
1. Dairy products:
Dairy products are first on the list of food to eat during pregnancy! As calcium intake is a must during pregnancy. Include low-fat or skimmed milk, paneer, yogurt, lassi or buttermilk. These are not only rich in calcium but also in Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D. Milk is also considered to improve digestion and appetite in pregnant women. However if you have issues with milk-based products, consult your doctor about how you would replace dairy products for enough calcium intake. Calcium is necessary when you are pregnant as it helps in the bone and teeth development of your little one. Drink 2-3 glasses of milk each day.
2. Cereals and whole-grains:
Cereals and grains are a wholesome diet for consuming a good amount of fiber. Brown breads, rotis made out of a combination of a variety of grains and rice are good for your health as they prevent constipation and hemorrhoids. Not only that cereals and whole grains are also rich in iron, magnesium, folic acid and Vitamin B1 and B2. These nutrients are very essential for your baby’s development and in building up the placenta. Whole grains also boost energy to pregnant women. Brown rice, wheat cereals or oatmeal, noodles made from wheat are good options.
3. Fruits and vegetables:
Pregnant ladies should include atleast six servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Plan your meals accordingly. Fruits and veggies are very rich in all vitamins minerals and fibers. Not only that they are also a good source of Vitamin C which is good for both you and your baby. Vitamin C strengthens gums and tissues, helps in healing wounds fast and also helps in absorbing iron.
Have enough of berries, oranges, apples, melons, strawberry, papaya, green leafy vegetables, broccoli and cabbage. During your meals, keep a plate of green salad.
Include enough proteins in your diet. Have lean meat (excluding liver), fish, eggs, beans and sprouts. Have fish 2-3 three times a week. Include sea fish like sardines and tuna in your diet. These fish are very rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are one of those healthy fats. It has been found that omega-3 fats are needed for brain and eye development of your unborn child.
Omega-3 fats are responsible for a faster development of your child’s brain. Other than that omega-3 fats also prevent the chances of asthama and allergies at a later age.
Always be careful to cook eggs, fish and meat properly before eating. Cook eggs in such a way that both the white portion and yolk becomes hard. Only then it is properly cooked. Uncooked or semi-cooked foods may contain bacteria which may result in food poisoning. It may also poison your baby’s blood.
5. Beans and pulses:
Beans and pulses are a must have when it comes to healthy pregnancy diet. They are rich in proteins and fibers and also some essential nutrients like zinc, iron, folate and calcium. Add beans and sprouts to your salads, soups or noodles and pasta. Kidney beans, soya beans, lobia, all pulses are really good for you and your baby’s health.
6. Nuts and seeds:
Nuts and seeds being rich in fatty acids, vitamins and minerals are a must in your diet. Whenever you feel hungry in between meals, have a fistful of almonds, cashew, walnuts or pistachios. Nuts are as good source of Vitamin E and all Vitamin Bs. Other than that they are stuffed with some excellent minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc etc, which are good for your growing fetus. But remember that although nuts are good for you and your baby’s health, but having lots of them will add to your weight which may be difficult to cut down later; and also do not have oil-fried nuts. Oil-fried nuts have unhealthy calories and lots of sodium. It’s good to have them raw always.
Now for the seeds, consider having pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and flax seeds. These seeds are super rich in minerals, vitamin Bs and fiber. Flax seed is rich in omega-3 fats. You can have flax seeds either whole or grind them to a fine powder and mix with milk.
Berries need a special mention and it should take a special place in your pregnancy diet chart. Berries are good in folate, vitamin C, potassium and fiber. If you don’t like berries start liking them because they are good for the developing fetus. You can top your cereals with berries or eat them fresh. But always wash them thoroughly before eating. Black berries, blue berries, strawberries or raspberries, any variety of berries are good for you.
8. Red meat:
If you had been avoiding red meat for so long due to the fear of weight gain, there’s news. This is the time to have some lean red meat. They are not only rich in proteins but also iron. Iron carries oxygen to your baby’s brain.
What to avoid while pregnant?
Yes, there is definitely a fine list of food and drinks you should avoid when pregnant as per the pregnancy food chart. Some of those foods that you had liked for so long have to be avoided for the good of your baby.
1. Fruits to avoid:
There are quite a number of fruits that you need to avoid during pregnancy.
a. Papaya tops the list. In some countries, having papaya during pregnancy is considered harmful for the baby. Many may think it as superstition, but even science has proved that raw and semi-ripe papayas being rich in latex cause uterine contractions and thereby early labour. However on the other hand, consuming fully ripe papayas when pregnant is excellent.
b. Pineapples should also be avoided as they contain bromelain and may lead to softening of cervix and early labour.
c. Grapes should be avoided in the last trimester. It may lead to increase in body heat.
2. Coffee and other caffeine-related drinks:
Coffee might have been your stress-buster all these years but not anymore, atleast not during your pregnancy. Cut down on coffee and other caffeinated drinks altogether. Past studies have shown that too much of caffeine in your diet may lead to miscarriages, retardation of growth in baby and underweight babies. Also caffeine slows down the absorption of iron in your body which may lead to anemia.
So avoid, tea, coffee, soda or any aerated drinks.
Don’t even think of bringing alcohol near you when you are pregnant. It is like a poison to your unborn baby. The amount of alcohol you will be consuming will travel through placenta to your baby’s blood. Your baby may have permanent health issues.
In European countries, it is quite a tradition to celebrate any good news over a glass or two of wine. We Indians have also adapted it, but for the sake of your baby bid all alcohol good-bye.
4. Raw food:
Uncooked or semi-cooked fish, meat, eggs contain bacteria called salmonella that will directly affect your baby. Do not have sushi when you are pregnant.
5. Any fast food:
Just avoid them these nine months. You don’t know what is happening inside the restaurant kitchen; even if they are washing the veggies and meat or not. So better avoid than risk your baby’s health.
6. Soft cheese:
Soft cheese which is imported is made from unpasteurized milk and may contain bacteria. These include feta cheese, gorgonzola and all other Mexican style cheeses. Avoid them.
Every cigarette you smoke is harmful for your baby. The nicotine present in tobacco slows fetal growth giving birth to low-weight and pre-mature babies.
8. Unpasteurized Juice:
Pasteurization is the process that food, juices and other fluids are put through to kill bacteria and other germs. The juices that you find at the stands and stalls are not put through this process and even some sold at the shelves of your super market. Always check the label before buying. Such juices can spread contaminants to your baby too which is definitely not good for your unborn baby!
9. Raw Milk
The same with raw milk. It isn’t pasteurized and hence the possibility of it containing bacteria and germs is high! Avoid raw milk at all costs.
10. Hot dogs and Other nitrate rich foods:
Nirates are the additives that have associated with the development of brain tumors and diabetes. Hot dogs and cured meat are quite rich in this additive. Though the association is scientifically established yet, why take a chance?
The little one inside you is your responsibility. Your lifestyle habits will be responsible for your baby’s growth. Take proper care of yourself and the unborn one.
Hope this article answers all your questions on what food pregnant women should eat and also not eat! Do leave us a comment.