There are many myths surrounding the diet of expectant mothers. We often hear family elders advising young mothers to eat enough for two people. Today we know that this is not true. In fact, binge eating during pregnancy can make you very fat and your child unnecessarily overweight. So what could be the best diet for pregnant women?
The growing fetus gets all its nourishment from its mother through the umbilical cord. Therefore, although the mother does not have to eat enough food for two people, it is important that she eat enough nutrients for two people. If the mother suffers from nutrient deficiency, this will be passed on to the child. Early nutrient deficiency can lead to a number of developmental problems in young children.
The pregnancy diet should be rich in all the vital nutrients that the body needs. Doctors recommend eating six to seven servings of bread and cereals, two to four servings of fruit, four to six servings of vegetables, two to four servings of dairy, and about three servings of protein every day. It is always advisable to choose foods rich in fiber. Excellent examples include whole grains, rice, fresh green fruits and vegetables.
Calcium is vital for the growth of bones and teeth. Remember to eat at least four servings of calcium-rich dairy products. This will ensure that you get approximately 1,200 mg of calcium each day. The diet of pregnant women should be rich in iron.
Vitamin C helps strengthen the immune system of mother and child. Important sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits, broccoli, cauliflower, papaya, green bell peppers, and tomatoes. Vitamin A is equally important. Carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, turnips, apricots, and water gourd contain a lot of vitamin A.
An expectant mother should always take all prescribed prenatal vitamins. These are specially designed multivitamins that make up for any nutrient imbalances or deficiencies in the mother’s diet. These generally contain iron, minerals, vitamins, folic acid, and calcium. Folic acid deficiency can cause serious birth defects in babies. Green leafy vegetables, nuts, citrus fruits, and beans are rich in natural folic acid, vitamins, and iron.
Just as there are things that should be included in the diet of pregnant women, there are certain items that should be avoided during pregnancy. These include alcohol, caffeine, excess sugar, excess fat, and raw meat. It is advisable to avoid soft cheeses and refrain from eating shark, swordfish and mackerel which have high levels of mercury.
Most expectant mothers experience nausea and a depressing lack of appetite during the first trimester. At this stage, they can eat small meals throughout the day.
Many women gain a lot of weight due to the high fat, salt, and sugar content of their diet during pregnancy. It is true that pregnant women often go through strong cravings and acute hunger pangs. But if you want to keep your weight in check and lose extra pounds quickly after giving birth, then it’s important to eat foods that are low in calories and high in nutritional value.