Pregnancy Diet: What to Eat and What Not to Eat
A pregnant woman always needs to take extra care on the diet due to a very simple reason – the nutrients are also supplied to the baby. If mothers are lacking the essential nutrients, the development of the baby may be affected as well. The excess weight gain would also increase the risk of birth complications. Hence, consuming the proper nutritious food would more likely ensure a healthy mom and baby!
Food you should eat during pregnancy
Fruit and Vegetables
Fresh fruit and vegetables are the all-time food that would never go wrong. They can be dried, frozen, fresh or juice. However, fresh and frozen fruits would have a higher level of vitamins and nutrients. For example, the berries are packed with vitamin C which is important for immune function. Dried fruits actually have the same amount of nutrients as the fresh fruits but without all the water they originally have. On the other hand, the dark, green vegetables contain many nutrients that a pregnant woman needs. For example, spinach and kale are rich in vitamin K, vitamin C, calcium, fibre, and potassium.
Pregnant women are more likely to experience constipation. You are highly encouraged to consume fibre to prevent it. The foods that are generally rich in fibre are the wholegrains. Unlike the refined grains, whole grains are packed with B vitamin and the plant compound. Quinoa and oats are also rich in protein. Other foods that are rich in fibre that you can consider to eat during pregnancy are the whole grain pasta, wholegrain bread, wild rice, beans, fruits and vegetables.
The good sources of protein – lean meats, eggs, and fish, are particularly important for pregnant women. Lean meat like beef, pork, and chicken provides high-quality protein. Egg contains almost every nutrient you need, including protein, fats, vitamin and minerals. Another important source that we can get from eggs is chlorine. It is essential for the brain development of the fetus.
What about if you are vegan? You can consider the tofu, soy products, seeds, nuts, beans, quinoa and legumes as great sources of protein.
Healthy fats, also called monounsaturated fats, are needed during pregnancy. A high-fat diet may inherit future diabetes in babies. Hence, it is better that fats do not exceed 30% of your pregnancy diet. Foods high in monounsaturated fats include peanut oil, olive oil, sunflower oil and avocado. Avocados are also high in vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, copper and fibre. The healthy fats would benefit the building of the fetus’s brain, tissues, and skin.
Pregnant mothers need more iron which is the main part of the haemoglobin. Extra iron is needed during pregnancy as a mother would increase almost 50% of blood volume in her body which requires more iron to make sure there is adequate oxygen supply for both mother and baby. Some foods that are rich in iron are salmon, cooked oyster, egg yolk, and poultry. Salmon is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids which help to build the fetus’s brain and eyes.
Food you should avoid during pregnancy
High Mercury Fish
You may have heard that pregnant women need to avoid eating fish that contain high levels of mercury. This is due to the fact that it can pass the placenta barrier and probably cause damage to the fetus. As a growing baby has a sensitive developing nervous system, it is necessary to avoid mercury consumption to prevent neurologic damage to the baby.
In case you are not certain about which fish is high in mercury, they include the Marlin, Swordfish, Shark, Yellowfin Tuna, Bigeye Tuna, Tilefishes, Orange Roughy, and King Mackerel.
Another thing mommy should avoid is raw eggs or undercooked eggs. Once you feel like having an egg, make sure it is cooked until the yolk and white are solid. It is due to the reason that undercooked egg can be a source of salmonella, which is a common factor of food poisoning. It is unlikely to harm the baby, but the mommy is going to have a fight with diarrhoea and vomiting. On top of that, do avoid foods that include raw eggs, as for example the mousse and mayonnaise.
Unpasteurized dairy product
In order to reduce the risk of food-borne illness, the next thing to avoid eating is the unpasteurized dairy product, which applies to goat milk and sheep milk. Same goes to the soft cheese, unpasteurized milk may contain bacteria, called listeria. It probably shows no symptoms to the mother, but it can jeopardize pregnancy by perhaps trigger miscarriage or premature births.
Excessive Vitamin A foods
We know that vitamin A is important for visual health. However, excessive consumption of Vitamin A during pregnancy would bring harm to the baby which probably causes birth defects. What can a mom do is to avoid eating liver or liver products. If you are deficient in vitamin A, it is best to seek a doctor and get their advice on supplementations. The safest way to do is to consult the professional one before taking any multivitamins.
Going through the pregnancy journey is not an easy job, but worth it when your little one gets the best and always stays healthy. After delivering your new-born, it’s time to take note of the post natal diet. Although there is still some food to avoid, there is also amazing food waiting for you!