Adopting a healthy diet is always important, but it’s especially crucial during pregnancy. This is because everything you eat during this time is absorbed by your growing baby. Therefore, if you’re used to skipping breakfast or filling up on junk food, this might be the time to change a few habits. However, just because you’re eating for two, you shouldn’t eat twice the usual amount. The following are some factors to consider when choosing food during pregnancy.
Get a head start
If you are planning to get pregnant, you should start including nutrients such as folic acid, iodine, and iron in your diet at least three months to one year before you conceive, if possible.
Folic acid is very important for women of childbearing age, as it can help reduce the risk of neural tube defects in children. Doctors recommend a daily serving of 400 micrograms. However, if you have a family history of spina bifida or other neutral tube diseases, your doctor may recommend a higher daily intake. This B Vitamin is found naturally in dark green vegetables such as kale and spinach, whole grains, legumes, and nuts.
Iron can help with fertility, and iron deficiency before conception and in early pregnancy has been linked to brain development problems in children. Iron is also very important in the formation of hemoglobin, which is a protein in red blood cells that helps in transportation of oxygen. The demand for hemoglobin increases during pregnancy, so get a head start before conceiving. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia and fatigue in pregnant women.
There are two types of iron, heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron is mainly found in animal products such as meat and eggs, and it is very easy for the body to absorb. Non-heme iron is found in plant products such as raisins, leafy green vegetables, and kidney beans, but is harder for the body to absorb. To increase absorption of iron, consume vitamin C, which is found in oranges, tomatoes, and strawberries.
Don't skip breakfast
Breakfast is important, especially during pregnancy. Your blood sugar is much lower in the mornings. Eating breakfast will help raise your blood sugar and give you energy throughout the day. Furthermore, eating breakfast is the best way to keep morning sickness at bay.
If your morning sickness is especially bad, start your day with whole wheat toast or crackers. You can eat a meal later on in the morning. For breakfast, focus on fortified cereals and fruits that are rich in vitamins and calcium.
Eat enough fiber
Constipation, high blood pressure, and pre-eclampsia are risks during pregnancy. This is why a diet rich in fiber is so important. During pregnancy, hormones relax intestinal muscles, which makes food move slower through your digestive tract. The advantage of this is that the body absorbs more nutrients from the food you consume, ensuring there is enough for you and your baby.
The main disadvantage is constipation. Furthermore, a growing uterus puts pressure on intestinal muscles, increasing the risk of constipation. A high fiber diet can help reduce risk of constipation and hemorrhoids. Fiber also helps regulate absorption of sugar in the system, which can reduce the risk of gestational diabetes. Fiber-rich foods also help you feel fuller and more satisfied for longer. Examples of foods that have fiber include whole wheat grains, vegetables, and nuts.
Drink lots of water
Dehydration during pregnancy can cause constipation, nausea, dizziness, and headaches. It can also make symptoms of morning sickness worse. During the third trimester, dehydration can cause contractions and trigger pre-term labor. This is why it is so important to drink lots of water throughout your pregnancy.
Drinking water regularly can reduce the symptoms of heartburn and acidity, which are very prevalent during the third trimester. Water helps you feel cooler, especially if you are prone to hot flashes. Staying hydrated can also help reduce the risk of urinary tract infections, which are very common during pregnancy
The best way to tell if you are drinking enough water is to check your urine. If it is pale, you are well-hydrated. If it is dark in color, you need to drink more water. On average, you should drink three liters of water throughout the day. You can also consume fruits and veggies such as watermelons and cucumbers as they have lots of water.
Read How to Drink More Water During Pregnancy for additional tips
Fat is important for the development of your child's central nervous system. Fat is also a great source of energy. However, you should focus on consuming healthy fats, such as those found in avocado, nuts, and fatty fish, such as salmon.
Protein helps support the growing fetus during pregnancy, which is why it is important to consume an at least 70 grams every day, preferably more. High sources of proteins include eggs, meat, and dairy.
Eat healthy snacks
You’re likely to feel hungry throughout the day, which is why it is important to have healthy snacks on hand. Examples include fruits and low-fat yogurt. You can also eat fat-free cheese, nuts and nut butters, whole-grain crackers, and vegetables.
You can take iron and folic acid supplements to ensure you are getting the total amount of nutrients every day. However, it is important to remember that supplements complement a healthy diet, and you should get most of your nutrients from food.
It is important to fine-tune your eating habits during pregnancy to ensure you and your baby are getting all the nutrients you need. Fortunately, following these food and diet tips will help ensure you have a healthy pregnancy.
I am Lily Hayes, a writer and teacher by profession who firmly believes that motherhood is the most fulfilling experience we can ever have in this world, and founder of The Baby Lands. I have spent years as an expert in what I do. I love my job immensely because I love to share and create things that will have a big impact on people. In fact, I have already written various e-books about self-development and parenting. Follow me on Twitter @TheBabyLandsCom