A healthy diet is important and it becomes even more important during pregnancy. The body requires extra nutrients and it is vital that there is no deficiency in your nutrition. Dietary requirements change as you move further along in your pregnancy. During the second and third trimester, you may need as many as 300 to 500 calories extra, in order to ensure optimal health for yourself and the baby. Maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy will also help a great deal to lose the weight once the baby is born. Here’s a list of nutritious foods that you must include in your diet during your pregnancy.
For optimal health and development of the fetus, consuming adequate amounts of protein and calcium are vital. Proteins like casein and whey are present in all dairy products. These foods are also rich in calcium, apart from phosphorus, B-complex vitamins, magnesium and zinc. Greek yoghurt has the highest content of calcium than most dairy products and some variants are also rich in probiotics that help keep the digestive system healthy. Women who are lactose intolerant can have yoghurt and probiotic yoghurt would be an ideal choice. Including probiotics in the diet can reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, vaginal infections, common allergies as well as preeclampsia (high blood pressure along with swelling in limbs and excreting protein in the urine).
Lentils, peas, beans, chickpeas, soybeans and peanuts are rich sources of plant-based fibre, protein, folate, iron and calcium. They all are essential during pregnancy. Folate is a B9 vitamin complex and helps with the health and well-being of both the mother and the young foetus in the first semester. A diet without adequate folate can increase the risk of low birth weight, poor immunity and susceptibility to infections later on in life as well as increasing the risk of neutral tube defects (birth defects of the spine, brain and spinal chord) in the baby. A cup of lentils daily is enough to provide approximately 65 to 90 percent of the daily folate requirement. The high fibre content is also beneficial for the upkeep of digestive health, reduce blood sugar spikes while iron, magnesium and potassium found in some legumes help to further supplement the diet.
The beta carotene in sweet potatoes is converted to vitamin A in the body, which is vital for the healthy development of the foetus. Plant-based vitamin A sources are generally safer than animal-based variants. A single serving of 100-150 grams of cooked sweet potatoes is enough to satisfy the daily intake of beta-carotenes.
Eggs are a complete meal because they contain a bit of all essential nutrients. A fairly large egg provides 77 calories, high quality protein, fat, a host of vitamins, minerals as well as choline. Choline is a vital compound which is good for brain development and overall health. A single egg fulfils 25 percent of a pregnant woman’s recommended daily intake of choline. A diet deficient in choline could put the baby at risk for developing neutral tube defects and compromised brain function.
Dark green veggies
Leafy veggies and broccoli are rich in fibre, vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, iron, potassium as well as important compounds that help keep the immune system and digestive system in top order. The high antioxidant content also helps in improving the overall health and well-being of the expectant mother. These foods also help lower the risk of low birth weight for the neonate. High fibre content in these veggies can also help relieve the common issue of constipation faced by most pregnant women.
Lean meats like chicken, beef and pork provide high-quality protein vital for
pregnant women. Beef and pork also contain sizeable amounts of nutrients like iron, choline as well as B complex vitamins.
Rich in healthy carbs, fibre, plant compounds, berries have a high water content. They also contain a good amount of vitamin C which increases the body’s capacity to absorb iron and help maintain the skin health and immune system. The low glycemic index in these fibre-rich fruits means they do not cause blood sugar spike whilst being a delicious low-calorie snack.
The second and third trimester see rapid foetal growth, which means an increased calorie intake. This can be successfully supplemented by whole grains that are rich in fibre, vitamins and essential plant-based compounds. Grains like oats and quinoa also provide protein. While all whole grains are rich in B-complex vitamins, magnesium and fibre, which are important for all pregnant women.
All dried fruits provide the same amount of nutrients that the fresh fruit would, just with a low amount of water. So eating a single piece of dried fruit is as good as having a serving of fresh fruit. Folates, vitamin, fibre, minerals like magnesium, iron and potassium are present in almost all dried fruits. Consuming dates regularly in the third trimester can help during childbirth. It helps by aiding natural cervical dilation and reducing the need to induce labour. It is, however, important to note that these foods contain high amounts of natural sugar, calories and nutrients, so limiting the servings to one would be ideal.
An increased blood volume during pregnancy (as much as 1.5l more) makes it vital to stay adequately hydrated. Adequate water intake reduces the risk of urinary tract infections as well as constipation, both of which are common during pregnancy. Consuming at least 1-2 litres of water daily must be the norm, while also ensuring to have other water-rich foods like fruits, veggies and beverages. Try to drink as much water as you can to quench your thirst.