Pregnancy Diet - Find the Right One For You
The Best Diet for Pregnancy
A pregnancy diet is not so different from a healthy diet
recommended to everyone these days. However there's a few differences and some
foods that are taboo, so let's have a look at them.
Eating for two doesn't mean eating double the amount of food! Healthy eating
during pregnancy is about giving your baby the best start in life while keeping up
your own energy levels and maintaining a healthy weight.
Eat a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, the more different kinds the
better. This will ensure the full spectrum of vitamins and anti-oxidants. If you
can, buy organic or even better grow your own. If you buy your vegies from a
store, wash them well to make sure there's no residue of insecticide or other
Too much salt can lead to fluid retention. If you have problems with this,
lower your salt intake slightly, you'll soon get to like the natural flavours of
Of course you can still enjoy the occasional sweet treat, just don't go
overboard! Too much sugar can lead to weight gain and blood glucose swings.
Have sufficient protein
A baby needs a lot of protein as he's developing. There's nothing wrong with eating
red meat, it's a good source of iron. Just make sure it's lean and preferably not fried to
a crisp! Eggs are a terrific source of protein as are legumes and nuts. Chicken
without the skin is also a healthy source of protein.
Fish used to be considered one of the healthiest protein foods available, but
now has to be viewed with suspicion due to high mercury levels. Since this
varies depending which part of the world you live in, make sure your local
supply is safe if you want to include fish in your pregnancy diet. If you can
find a clean source of fish then enjoy it a few times a week. Fish is also a
good source of omega-3.
Make sure you're consuming enough fats.
You always wanted to hear that didn't
you? Some fat in the diet is vital for absorption of vitamins A, D and E and to
keep your skin supple. You'll have less risk of stretch marks if your skin is
healthy. Sources of healthy fat are avocadoes, eggs, virgin olive oil or
Omega-3 is definitely the healthiest fat you can eat. The developing baby can't
make his own omega 3 so relies on mum for his supply. If you are breast feeding
ensure you are getting enough of this. If you're bottle feeding, make sure the
formula contains omega-3. Deficiencies of this fatty acid can lead to post
partum depression and ADHD in children. Foods high in omega-3 are
flaxseed, fish, tahini, nuts and leafy green vegetables. Take supplements if
your diet is lacking in these.
Trans fats are even less healthy than saturated fats but are used in many
manufactured foods to increase shelf life - photo like this. They're found mainly in some
margarines, baked foods, cookies, processed and fried foods.
Why are trans fats bad? They
can increase the risk of cancer, heart disease and decrease good
cholesterol (HDL) in your body. Please don't eat them and don't feed them to
your kids. There has even been speculation between
trans fats and mental retardation. While nothing is proven, it's just not
Food that contains no trans fats
is food that you prepare yourself, salads, vegetables, wholemeal breads, in fact
anything that doesn't contain much fat or oil. If you buy pre-packaged foods
scan the ingredients to ensure they contain no trans fats. In certain countries
(including the US) trans fats must be shown on the label. Unfortunately there is
no law to show detailed ingredients in some other countries. Look for
"hydrogenated vegetable oil" instead.
Folic acid (folate) is a B vitamin that's essential in a pregnancy diet to
prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Folic acid is found in green
leafy vegies, broccoli, citrus fruits, lentils and fortified breakfast cereal.
Make sure you are getting 400-600 micrograms daily. Ideally this should be taken
before you plan on getting pregnant, but if your pregnancy was a surprise just
start taking it asap! Especially important in the first trimester.
Your body will need more Iron when you're pregnant. You can find iron
in lean meat, tofu, apricots, tinned fish and spinach. Non meat eaters may have
to take supplements. Look for organic iron such as Iron Amino Acid Chelate.
Avoid iron sulphate as this can lead to constipation.
Low Zinc levels can slow the growth of the foetus. Zinc is found in
lean meat, turkey, chicken, pumpkin seeds and wholegrains.
Raw food diet and pregnancy
If you're already a keen follower of a raw food diet it's possible to
maintain this during your pregnancy. You'll probably need to be more than a
little creative to maintain your levels of B vitamins, protein and iron.
Morning sickness (not just in
Even the best diet plan for pregnancy can be sabotaged by morning sickness!
Many women find it quite debilitating. Although most morning sickness is over in
the first trimester, some unlucky mums endure it for the whole nine months. Morning sickness is
likely caused by the hormonal changes in your body. If you find it hard to keep
anything down, a prenatal vitamin supplement is a good idea. Make sure you're
drinking enough fluids too.
Ginger has long been the natural remedy for nausea. Many women experiencing
morning sickness find that a supplement of vitamin B6 can help too. While we
don't know why this works it's worth a try. You may need an anti nausea
medication if your condition worsens.
A pregnancy diet plan should be used as a guide to help you to know
which foods are beneficial and which to avoid. It should not be so restrictive
that you spend the entire pregnancy worrying about your diet! There are certain
diets, for instance the "best odds diet" which assume we all have all day
to research and prepare our food. We all have limited time especially if we are
pregnant and working full time.
Stress is not a good place to be! So relax, enjoy your pregnancy, eat
sensibly and you'll be doing the best for your baby and yourself.
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