An ideal pregnancy diet
You need not be confused about what to eat when you’re pregnant! As with most things in life, achieving optimum nutritional status within your pregnancy diet is all a matter of planning, commitment, and consistency. Know what’s good and what isn’t good for you, and stick to your plan!
What you eat when you’re pregnant plays a major role in keeping you healthy and giving your baby the nutrition it needs as it develops.
You should not eat more than you did before you became pregnant – even if you feel like it. However, in the 3rd trimester, you may need an extra 200 kcal a day as your baby starts to put on weight. That’s an equivalent of 2 extra pieces of fruit a day.
What to eat during pregnancy?
The old saying “You are what you eat” gains even more importance when you are pregnant. This is the time to be in the best, most nutritionally-packed diet of your life!
In order to get your increased nutrient requirements, MyPlate Daily Checklist(formerly Daily Food Plan) created by the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, United States Department of Agriculture (January 2016) recommends the following quantities of the 5 main food groups to eat during pregnancy:
Additional healthy food choices
In addition to the healthy food plan above, healthier food choices can be achieved with the following
- Focus on whole fruits that are fresh, frozen, canned, or dried.
- Choose a variety of colorful fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables—make sure to include dark green, red, and orange choices.
- Find whole-grain foods by reading the Nutrition Facts label and ingredients list.
Choose fat-free milk, yogurt, and soy beverages (soy milk) to cut back on your saturated fat.
- Eat and Drink less saturated fat, and added sugars.58
- Limit packaged, canned, and processed foods available in the supermarket, restaurant foods, and fast foods which tend to have larger amounts of sodium.
- Replace foods high in saturated and trans fat such as butter, whole milk, and baked goods with foods higher in unsaturated fat found in plants and fish, such as vegetable oils, avocado, and tuna fish.
- Added sugars are sweeteners and syrups added when foods or beverages are processed or prepared. They can make a food or beverage tastier, but they can also add a lot of calories and few or no nutrients.
Important health and diet guidelines for pregnant women
“ It is important to manage your weight during pregnancy, so try to focus on the quality of your diet. “
When you are expecting a baby, your diet will need special consideration. Here are some basic but important advices.
- Avoid foods that may contain listeria, salmonella, and toxoplasma. These include refrigerated, ready-to-eat foods (meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy - unpasteurized milk and milk products or foods made with unpasteurized milk), Make sure that any eggs, meat and fish you eat is cooked right through.
- Be choosy with your seafood. Seafood may contain mercury.66 You should not eat fish high in mercury like shark, swordfish, tilefish, and king mackerel. Canned “white” tuna (albacore) is higher in mercury content than the “light” variety; limit canned white tuna to less than 6 ounces per week. Mercury can harm the developing nervous system in an unborn child or young baby. However, you may choose those lower in mercury like salmon, flounder, tilapia, trout, pollock, and catfish.
- Cut back on caffeine. Try to keep your caffeine consumption to a less than 200 mg a day, which is equivalent to 1 cup espresso, or 2 to 3 cups of regular coffee. This is equal to about one 12 oz cup of coffee. Don’t forget caffeine in chocolate, tea, and some soft and energy drinks. High caffeine intake is associated with delayed conception, spontaneous miscarriage, and low birth weight.
- Avoid alcohol. Drinking during pregnancy, especially in the first few months of pregnancy, may result in a range of lifelong physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities in the baby.
How to manage common conditions in pregnancy
- Try a supplement specifically designed for morning sickness, like Elevit Pronatal. Elevit reduces the risk and severity of morning sickness.
- Avoid strong tasting, odorous foods.
- Avoid an empty stomach at all times eating small amounts of food often rather than several large meals – but don’t stop eating.
- Ginger (in the form of spice in foods and drinks, or extracts in teas) to be a safe and effective solution to relieve nausea and vomiting.
- Prevent a full stomach. Dividing your meals into smaller portions and consuming them throughout the day is better than consuming huge meals that overload your digestive system and make you feel bloated. For example, eat a small portion of food, wait 20 to 30 minutes, then take some liquid.
- Switch to lactose-free products because some women have reported becoming lactose-intolerant during pregnancy.
Heartburn, acid indigestion
Acid indigestion and heart burn are common during pregnancy. Try the following tips 62 for some relief.
- Avoid intake of reflux-inducing foods or substances like greasy and spicy foods, tomatoes, highly acidic citrus products and carbonated drinks.
- Eat small meals regularly to avoid overloading your digestive system.
- Make postural changes, such as raising the head of the bed.
- Avoid eating within three hours of going to bed at night.
- Take an antacid supplement containing calcium carbonate that can be used during pregnancy.
Hormonal change during pregnancy can give you constipation. Few things you can do to help prevent constipation. These include:
- Eat plenty of high-fibre foods you can tolerate like cereals and dried fruits.
- Drink plenty of water to help flush out your system.
- Exercise regularly – a gentle walk at the start of the day may be helpful.
Important vitamins and minerals for pregnancy support
“ You will need extra vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to help support your baby’s development - it can be difficult to get enough nutrients through diet alone. “
Important nutrients are:
In the first few weeks of pregnancy, before most women find out that they are pregnant, the neural tube has already developed, or closed. The neural tube forms the baby’s brain and spinal cord, which are essential to the central nervous system.
A woman’s nutritional folate levels can play an important role in the formation to reduce the risk of neural tube defects.
During pregnancy, the demand for folic acid also increases. Studies showed that folic acid reduce the risk for other birth defects later in pregnancy.
Therefore, it is important to take a pregnancy multivitamin and mineral supplements with folic acid, like Elevit Pronatal if you are planning to conceive, or when pregnant and breastfeeding.
Elevit Pronatal contains key vitamins and minerals that are essential to support baby’s healthy development include 800 mcg of folic acid meeting the daily nutrient requirement for folic acid in pregnancy.
Iron is important to help prevent dietary iron deficiency anemia and has benefits for your baby’s development. Elevit with iron contains 60 mg of elemental iron which is enough to meet the required amount of iron during pregnancy.
Elevit Pronatal gives you the nutritional support you need in pregnancy.
While pregnant, the recommended dietary intake for folate increases between 187% to 407%. In addition to iron and folate, Elevit Pronatal, contains many important vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C, Calcium, Manganese, and Zinc to help meet your increased nutritional needs.
Folic acid is clinically proven63 to reduce the risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida, while iron helps prevent dietary iron deficiency anemia.
Combined with a healthy diet, taking Elevit Pronatal daily will provide you and your baby with the ideal nutritional support needed during pregnancy.
Other parts of your lifestyle may need to change
Knowing what to eat when you are pregnant is vital. However, other lifestyle behaviour changes may be considered and adopted. Read through our lifestyle tips for expectant mothers, and you might be surprised to find that some of your regular habits need to change.