Good nutrition is crucial for anyone as it helps to promote a healthy lifestyle and prevent diseases. The importance of good nutrition is even magnified for pregnant women or women who are planning for pregnancy. This is because it does not only influence your health but also affects the growth and development of the unborn child.
Pregnancy, though, does not call for special program diets or exotic foods. On the contrary, it encourages one to eat a variety of foods to get optimum levels of nutrients to help both the mother and the baby. While a woman is pregnant, they might experience a spike in their hunger but it is advised that one not to overeat. By taking a heavy breakfast, it can help curb cravings for snacks, which are high in fats and sugars. The following serve as pointers of what to incorporate in a diet during pregnancy.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are a very good source of vitamins and minerals. They help to keep the immunity system strong and healthy so as to ward off diseases. They are also important to facilitate various bodily functions to ensure good overall health. In addition, they also contain fiber that aids in the digestion process and prevents constipation. The recommended serving of fruits and vegetables should be at least five. Make sure to lightly cook vegetables or better yet wash them and eat them raw to benefit from the nutrients they contain. If this seems like too much work to eat all of these types of foods throughout the day then getting a juicer is another way to achieve your nutritional goals.
Starchy Foods (Carbohydrates)
Starch foods contain a lot of vitamins and fiber that are essential to health. In addition, due to their bulky nature, they are quite satisfying without having excess calories. They help to supply energy, which is incorporated to body cells to facilitate body metabolism. They should form the main part of every meal and should be whole meal. Examples include:
- Breakfast Cereals
- Yam among others
Proteins help a lot in growth and development, play a pivotal role in replacing worn out tissues and help in manufacture of important hormones and enzymes. Some important sources of protein include:
- Lean meat
Remember to pick only lean meat and cook them well using little fat. Also for eggs, poultry and meat make sure they are thoroughly cooked. Portions of fish such as salmon and sardines are also recommended as they have huge health benefits.
Dairy and dairy products are extremely important as they contain calcium and vitamin D, which aids in bone formation. They also contain other vital nutrients that are crucial to the development of the unborn child. Dairy foods include milk, yogurt, and cheese among others. Try to go for the low fat options such as skimmed milk. Two to three serving of dairy is recommended per day.
Foods High In Sugars and/or Fat
This category of foods should be consumed with moderation as excess of them can lead to weight gain. Fatty foods can also increase the level of cholesterol, which can lead to heart complications. Examples include:
- Spread fats e.g. margarine
- Ice cream
- Fizzy drinks
A pregnant woman may get hungry between meals and there is the urge to have a snack. However, try not to go for the high calorie snacks such as ice cream and biscuits but the health snack such as:
- Salad vegetables
- Low fat yogurt
- Fresh fruits
- Unsweetened juices
Apart from eating healthy foods, a pregnant woman should pay attention on how they prepare these foods. This will help to prevent contaminations and pathogens that can cause serious diseases. The following practices are advised.
- Wash thoroughly fruits and vegetables to remove traces of soil, which may contain pathogens.
- Make sure all surfaces and utensils are washed after handling raw meat. Do not forget to wash your hands.
- Ensure that ready to eat foods and raw foods are stored separately to avoid food poisoning and contamination.
Proper nutrition and healthy dietary practices are essential to the overall well being of both you and the baby. It helps one to get the necessary nutrients that help in the child’s development. In addition, supplements are also very important to supply the various nutrients both to the mother and unborn child. Always remember that a healthy diet will translate into a healthy and fun pregnancy experience for you, making it so important and necessary to have these foods in your daily diet. Always consult with your physician for any dietary changes and advice.