By Dt. Pujah Kundaar, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Pregnancy is one of the most important phases in a woman’s life and it is at this time, that proper maintenance of health is of utmost importance; not only for the mother but also for the health of the baby. What you eat during pregnancy is extremely important and plays a major role in determining your as well as your baby’s health.
A count of 300 extra calories per day is needed, particularly at the latter stages of the pregnancy when the baby grows at a rapid rate; the calories should be particularly derived from nutritious food items. This helps in contributing to the baby’s development and growth. The main source of nourishment for the baby comes from what you eat and drink.
Here are some easy tips that women can easily incorporate in their diet plan during pregnancy:
- Prenatal vitamins with folic acid and iron: Consuming iron rich natural food items like pulses, whole grains, and animal protein help in preventing low birth weight in babies. Consuming folic acid rich food like leafy vegetables, whole grains, pulses helps prevent serious birth defects of the spinal cord and the brain. Hence, daily consumption of these nutrients is extremely important.
- Food rich in Carbohydrates: Food items such as whole grain cereals, fruits and vegetables which are high in carbohydrates are required for the daily production of energy and hence, should be consumed in an adequate amount.
- Shellfish and fish: Shellfish and fish such as swordfish, tilefish and king mackerel, that have high levels of mercury, should be avoided, as mercury levels have been found to interfere with brain development of the unborn baby. Some easily available and common fish with lower levels of mercury like shrimp, salmon and catfishcan be consumed instead.
- Boost Immune System: The immune system (suppressed during pregnancy) can be boosted by having two spoons of sunflower seed butter containing vitamin E. This helps in building the red blood cells of the fetus.
- Control Cholesterol: Since cholesterol levels soar during pregnancy as well as breastfeeding, sprinkling freshly ground flaxseeds on cereals and salads can help in controlling the levels of cholesterol, thus keeping heart diseases at bay.
- Calcium: Calcium is needed during pregnancy for easing the muscle contractions as well as proper functioning of the nerves. Adequate levels of calcium are found in milk, yogurt, cheese, sardines and salmon.
Minimize morning sickness:
Morning sickness is most common in the early stages of pregnancy but sadly it’s not always limited to the morning!
Help minimize the effects by:
- Eating little and often, basing meals and snacks on starchy foods like porridge, oatcakes, pasta, rice, potatoes, plain biscuits or crisp-breads.
- Minimizing fatty foods which are harder to digest.
- Choosing quick and easy recipes which need little preparation.
Keeping a couple of plain biscuits beside your bed – it can help to nibble on one before you get up.