This blog was contributed by Luke Douglas.
Luke is a fitness and health blogger at Ripped.me and a great fan of the gym and a healthy diet. He follows the trends in fitness, gym and healthy life and loves to share his knowledge through useful and informative articles. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter.
Healthy eating in the prenatal period is not just about avoiding certain foods; it’s also about making healthy food choices. It’s important to know that eating patterns and some foods can affect the baby’s development while in the womb, and that’s why it’s useful to learn about healthy nutritious food and healthy eating habits that will help you and your baby thrive throughout the pregnancy.
Do eat colorful food
A varied diet will not only provide you and your baby with all the important nutrients, but it will also introduce your little bundle of joy to some new tastes via the amniotic fluid. Choose deep-hued fruits and veggies (think blueberry, spinach and carrots) that also tend to be rich in antioxidants.
Don’t disregard food safety
Avoid raw or undercooked meats, seafood and eggs to protect yourself and your baby from bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella. So, stay away from raw fish, and also avoid eating leftovers sitting outside the fridge.
Do avoid pesticides
Some research has made a connection between pesticides and premature births and even some birth defects. There’s evidence that nitrates (found in fertilizers) and pesticides have the ability to interact with hormones during the pregnancy. So, every time you can, choose organic foods.
Don’t eat too many refined carbs
White bread, white rice, sweets and sodas all go directly into your bloodstream, raising your blood sugar levels. These ups and downs in glucose may result in heavier babies who then have a greater risk of being overweight when they grow up. Choose unrefined grains such as oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa and whole-wheat bread.
Do get your omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 can boost your baby’s neurological development in the uterus, possibly leading to better vision, memory and language skills during early childhood. Walnuts and flaxseed oil are a good source of omega-3 fats, but probably the best choice is fatty fish. Fish oil supplements are also safe.
Don’t forget to drink water
Even though it’s hard to stay well-hydrated during your pregnancy when a lot of fluid leaks from your blood vessels into your tissues, it’s important to try. Hydration is quite important for preventing premature labor because a dehydrated body produces hormones that stimulate contractions. Drink at least 2 liters of fluid a day, which equals to about ten 0.2 liter glasses.
Do choose “double duty” foods
Try to incorporate foods such as yogurt, peanut butter, chicken, beef and dairy into your diet. Those foods are full of protein, calcium, iron and other nutrients that your baby needs in order to grow.
Don’t eat for two
Almost half of all women gain too much weight during pregnancy. If you want the ideal weight, it’s best if you follow a plan. You only need to take between 350 and 450 more calories a day if you’re carrying a single child depending on the trimester. You don’t really need to count calories of course, but try to eat until you’re full and not more.
Do eat more folate, calcium, iron, zinc and fiber
Also known as the “big five” of nutrients, they are super important for your health during pregnancy. Folate (or folic acid) may reduce the risk of neural tube defects in babies. You can find it in beans, legumes, citrus fruits and meat.
A healthy dose of calcium also plays a crucial role in your pregnancy, because it motivates good bone and tooth development. It also protects your own bones too.
Because your blood plasma volume increases by almost 50% during pregnancy, iron is crucial. You can get iron from food, but it’s difficult to absorb, so better opt for some iron supplements.
Zinc deficiencies have been linked to birth defects, increased fetal growth and premature delivery, so load up on at least 15 milligrams of zinc per day during your pregnancy.
Fiber from fruit, vegetables and whole grains is also essential for your baby’s and especially for your own health. It prevents constipation which is a common pregnancy complaint that can sometimes lead to hemorrhoids. It also makes you feel fuller for a longer period of time. It’s best if you aim somewhere between 25 and 35 milligrams of fiber a day.
Some of these nutrients, such as zinc and folic acid, are not that easy to absorb from food, so you can take supplements and prenatal vitamins. You can also think about consuming some supplements such as those from Elevit that provide essential vitamins and minerals to support the baby’s brain development and eyesight.
When you’re pregnant, it’s important to eat every two hours. Frequent eating not only provides a steady inflow of nutrients to your baby, but it also keeps your blood sugar level normal. There’s also a lower possibility of developing heartburn if you consume smaller and more frequent meals.
Eating healthy during pregnancy doesn’t mean you must avoid many foods. After your morning sickness stops, concentrate more on what you can eat and not on what you can’t, and your baby and you will be healthy and strong throughout and after pregnancy.