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Food and Nutrition

Pregnancy diet-- what to eat and what to avoid!

Shikha Garg
Pregnancy

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Pregnancy diet what to eat and what to avoid

When you are pregnant, your body's demands for all the nutrients increases automatically, because, nutrition of the foetus depends on you. Eating a healthy diet becomes more important than ever at this stage. Everything that you eat or drink can have an effect on your baby's development. Diet during pregnancy should be adequate for-

  1. Maintenance of the mother's health
  2. Need of the growing foetus
  3. Successful lactation

Here are some basic pointers that will help you get a proper diet in your pregnancy.

What Are The 'Musts' In A Pregnancy Diet?

Pregnancy diet should ideally be balanced, nutritious, healthy, varied with lots of lean proteins and whole grains to support the baby's growth and development. However, every pregnancy is unique and before you arrive on a diet plan for your pregnancy period, you should always cross-check with your gynecologist and follow her advice on this as well. Some basic musts for a healthy pregnancy diet are-

  1. A healthy diet for pregnant women should be nutrient centric and contain more calories, iron, calcium, and folate. However, if you start your pregnancy with a healthy weight, you may not need any additional calories. Post the first trimester, 340 extra calories a day in the second trimester, and about 450 extra calories a day in the third trimester are recommended
  2. Maintain a steady rate of weight gain which should be 1-2 kg in first trimester; about 2 kg each month during second trimester and third trimester. On an average, around 10-13 kg for healthy women is considered normal. Weight gain during pregnancy depends on the BMI you have when you conceive
  3. Drink plenty of fluids to avoid constipation during pregnancy – one of the most common pregnancy discomforts. Fluids keep the body hydrated and supports the increase of blood volume which grows by almost 50% when pregnant
  4. Also drink lots of nourishing liquids, including water, atleast 8-10 glasses each day to avoid urinary infection/irritation and dehydration. Have nourishing liquids such as lemon water, lassi/chhach (light consistency). Coconut water during pregnancy has been known to have many benefits with lesser calories
  5. Exercise regularly to increase your chances of a smooth labour and delivery. Women who remain active during pregnancy and exercise regularly have higher chances of a smooth labor and a natural birth
  6. Pregnancy changes the way the stomach acids function. To avoid indigestion (heartburn), eat 5 -6 small meals a day instead of 2-3 large ones. Breaking meals into smaller portions keeps you from feeling full and uncomfortable in one go. Antacids maybe helpful – ask your doctor for suggestion
  7. Iron is an important element in hemoglobin production which is required to be optimum during pregnancy. Increase the intake of citrus fruits and juices, because it contains Vitamin C which helps in the absorption of iron. Citrus fruits may also help keep morning sickness at a baby
  8. Working during pregnancy can be an easy task if you plan your meals well in advance. As far as possible carry home-cooked food and a few snacking items from home. Drink plenty of water and try to take a small walk during the day

What Foods Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy?

Being one of the most delicate times in the life of a woman, it is but natural to pay attention to what you eat and what you should not eat. Some foods may be consumed moderately, some are best avoided while some find their way in your plate almost daily. Here is a list of foods that should be avoided as far as possible-

  1. Seafood and fish that contain mercury: All seafoods have some traces of mercury but certain fish and seafood like king mackerel, swordfish, shark and tilefish should be kept off your pregnancy diet. Also, fish that are exposed to pollutants should also be avoided, including salmon, striped bass, bluefish, walleye and trout
  2. Unpasteurized milk and milk products: Unpasteurised milk and milk products, fruit juices etc. can be contaminated with bacteria like Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli and Campylobacter. These can be fatal for an unborn baby and are best avoided totally
  3. Alcohol: An occasionally indulgence may be alright from the second trimester onwards, but alcohol has been known to increase the chances of miscarriage and still-birth. Why take a risk when you can avoid it altogether?
  4. Raw eggs: Eggs are an excellent source of proteins and should be a part of pregnancy diet. However, undercooked eggs can contain Salmonella bacteria. Though the infection may affect only the mother, yet it is suggested that pregnant women eat thoroughly cooked eggs only. In other words, poached eggs, lightly scrambled eggs, homemade mayonnaise, and other such items go off your pregnancy diet
  5. Undercooked meat and poultry: Raw meat contains the parasite toxoplasma gondii and may also be infected with listeris bacteria. Consumption of raw meat and poultry can have serious effects on the unborn baby's growth and development, and in some cases cause miscarriage too. Make sure your meat and poultry is thoroughly cooked
  6. Caffeine: Can't get up from the bed unless you have your morning cuppa coffee? I hear you! However, excessive caffeine consumption has been related to low fetal birth weights and higher risk of stillbirths. In some case excessive caffeine consumption can cause fetal death or spontaneous abortion as well. No, don't fret just yet! Just make sure you do not have more than 200 mL of caffeine everyday
  7. Herbal teas: Though herbal teas have gained a lot of popularity off late, some of them are completely off limits for pregnant women. Herbal Senna tea, wormwood, Saw palmetto etc. should be avoided. Green tea, chamomile tea or rosemary tea can be consumed in moderate amounts, though I'd suggest you consult your doctor before relishing a cup
  8. Street foods: Who doesn't want to indulge in a chaat treat when pregnant? Count me in! However, when pregnant, make sure you eat variation of street foods from reputed restaurants only – so that you can be sure that the products used are not contaminated and safe for you and the baby
  9. Fatty and sugary foods: So you though pregnancy is the perfect time to indulge in sweet treats? Well, you are wrong. While fats will skyrocket your cholesterol levels, and I am not even talking about how it will stick to you after delivery, sugars too will contribute to your empty calorie intake
  10. Unwashed fruits and vegetables: Yes, you knew it. We all do. But let me stress here that you need to ensure that anything that goes in your mouth is thoroughly clean, washed many times and avoid eating them raw or undercooked. Also, ensure that you peel your fruits before you eat them

Along with what you eat, here are a few pointers on some simple things that should be avoided when pregnant:

  1. Excessive salt
  2. Avoid foods that cause gas, such as spicy, fatty or greasy food
  3. Avoid smoking and alcohol
  4. Avoid caffeinated drinks; they inhibit the absorption of iron
  5. To avoid ingestion and hyperacidity – don't skip meals or overeat
  6. Avoid unnecessary snacking on junk and fried foods
  7. Avoid restaurant made salads and dressings made from raw eggs
  8. Avoid organ meat

Healthy Snacking During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is the time when you get some really weird cravings, and it wouldn't hurt to indulge a bit, would it? While it is always better to stick to healthy foods, give in to your sweet, tangy, or rich cravings once in a while. Chocolates anyone? If you are fond of snacking here are some healthy snacking options-

  • Sprouts and Salads
  • Bhelpuri (puffed rice snack)
  • Roasted Chana Chat
  • Fresh vegetable soups or juices
  • Three Bean Salad
  • Yogurt with fresh fruits
  • Roasted Nuts or Dry fruits
  • Fruit Salads and Chaats
  • Wholegrain bread with vegetables/paneer
  • Dhokla/idlis

These are general guidelines on diet in pregnancy. Your doctor will be your best guide.

Pregnancy Diet - Foods That May Help In Morning Sickness

If you suffer from morning sickness, here are some foods that will help you deal with it:

  • Water melon and Musk melon seeds (giri) help in curbing morning sickness. They are rich in calcium as well
  • Banslochan (it is a type of calcium, made up of an extracts from the stem of a special tree; it also controls to the craving of clay (very common among females during pregnancy). You may find it in medical stores easily
  • Lemon water has been found to be very helpful when it comes to vomiting and nausea. The tangy-sour taste of lemon keeps the sickness away
  • Digestive biscuits. Keep them on your bedside and eat before you step down from the bed. Or a slice of toasted bread before you get up with a cup of your favourite beverage should also help you curb nausea

But more than what you eat, it is also important to have a proper meal pattern through the day. Therefore, don't skip breakfast. Also, begin your day with a healthy high protein, high fiber breakfast consisting of milk with dalia, muesli, oats, wholewheat bread, sprouts, egg etc.

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Shikha Garg

| Nov 13, 2016

read another blog " tips to avoid constipation ".

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Shravanthi Nath

| Nov 11, 2016

I M 26 th week have constipation .. what to do??

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Joys Jeba Selvi

| Oct 30, 2016

Thanks a lot.... much need

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Swetha Moluguri

| Sep 15, 2016

tq

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sindhu thota

| Aug 14, 2016

it is very useful. thank u so much

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Shikha Garg

| Aug 11, 2016

you are most welcome @Sonali and Shazli

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Sonali Jadhav

| Aug 11, 2016

thanks

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Shazli Khan

| Aug 11, 2016

Thanks a lot

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