Pregnancy Food Dos & Dont’s
August 19, 2016
Getting pregnant can be an exciting time for most mothers. However, it can also be a confusing time as you want to do the best thing for you and your unborn baby. This is especially true for first time mothers who are not sure what is and isn’t safe to eat during these precious nine months. To create a proper food plan that meets you and your baby’s health needs its best to schedule an appointment with your nutritionist earlier on in your pregnancy.
Here is also a compilation of some suggested foods to take and to avoid during this period. Bearing in mind that each pregnancy is different it is important to note that this article does not act as a substitute to any medical recommendation you may have received and it is important to still talk them over with your nutritionist and/or doctor.
PREGNANCY FOOD DOS:
1) Protein Rich Foods
Your baby’s cells are growing at a fast rate and each cell is made up of proteins. It is therefore, important that you eat foods rich in proteins. These include: certain types of fish, eggs, beans, lentils, chick peas, yoghurt, different types of meats and much more.
It’s important that you cook the food all the way through to help eliminate any bacteria which might affect your baby and/or cause food poisoning which could lead to excessive vomiting and diarrhea among other things. Also tread lightly, when it comes to fish to avoid mercury poisoning which could be harmful to your unborn baby. It might be best to limit your serving of fish to about 12 ounces (0.3kg) per week to help limit the amount of ingested mercury.
Deep dive on Sample Protein dishes:
a) Tilapia – This often has lower quantities of mercury and is high in proteins (about 21grams), vitamins and minerals necessary for your unborn baby’s developing mind and body. It also has omega 3 which helps strengthen your baby’s nervous system.
b) Eggs – This is high in quality proteins, vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fats which help
support your baby’s brain and vision development.
c) Beans – This contains iron (an important part of hemoglobin found in the blood which helps in the transportation of oxygen within the body), folate (a synthetic form of vitamin B9 which helps prevent severe spinal cord and brain defects in a fetus), calcium and zinc. It also has higher amounts of fiber and proteins than most legumes.
d) Yoghurt – In addition to proteins, this is also a great source of calcium needed for the healthy growth and development of your unborn baby’s bones.
It is important to note that your developing baby will still get the calcium they need either from the food you eat or from your bones. This is one of the reasons why some mothers have experienced their teeth shacking slightly during pregnancy. Therefore, talk with your doctor and/or nutritionist to establish whether you will need a calcium supplement in addition to the calcium rich foods eat. Other dairy products such as milk are also high in calcium hence you should aim for 2 – 3 servings of dairy a day.
e) Beef and pork – in addition to proteins also contains choline which is essential for liver functions. However, try to avoid hot dogs and deli meats as they may contain parasites which might be harmful to your unborn baby.
2) Carbohydrate Rich Foods
Carbohydrate rich foods are a good source of energy, vitamins and fiber. It is important to ensure that the carbohydrates you consume are complex carbohydrates, that is, they are not refined since there has been an increase in gestational diabetes among pregnant women. These include: different types of potatoes, pastas, rice, millet, oats, maize, bread and much more. It should comprise of just over a third of your meal. Its best to go with whole grain food items as these have a higher fiber and nutrient content.
Deep dive on Sample Carbohydrate dishes:
a) Popcorns – yes, you read right. Popcorn is a whole grain and a good and fun source of starch.
b) Sweet potatoes – Sweat potatoes can be eaten as part of a meal or as a snack. It could be a great source of vitamin A and also contains vitamin C, folate and is rich in fiber.
3) Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are a great source of vitamins, minerals and fiber which help in digestion. It is important to get a good mix of different types of fruits and vegetables as the different colours provide a different range of nutritional benefit. These could be fresh from the market, frozen, dried, juiced or even canned in the case for fruits. However, homemade juices are usually best since you might not always be sure of the preparation method used which could lead to the spread of bacteria. Fresh homemade juices also have a higher nutritional content than packaged juices. However, if you do buy prepacked juice form the supermarket make sure you read the label to confirm that it has been pasteurized which helps to kill bacteria.
Fruits include: Bananas, oranges, grapes, avocados, watermelons and much more.
Vegetables include: Broccoli, spinach, Sukuma wiki (Kale) and much more.
Deep dive on Sample Fruits:
a) Avocados – these are a great source of natural fat which helps promote the growth of your unborn baby.
b) Bananas – These are rich in potassium which provide an energy boost.
c) Oranges – These are high in vitamin C, folate, fiber and water. However, if you are suffering from heartburn you might want to reduce their intake.
4) Healthy Snacks
In between meals you might feel like munching on something and instead of an unhealthy starch filled snack you might want to consider:
a) Dried fruits – these can be found at most supermarkets and include items such as dried raisins, berries and so on which provide different nutritional benefits.
b) Sandwiches – you could use whole grain bread with some vegetables and well-cooked pieces of chicken to make a healthy sandwich.
c) Porridge – you could also make some oatmeal porridge with some thinly sliced and boiled spinach which will make a healthy snack and might also boost your appetite.
In addition to the above food categories it is important that you drink plenty of clean water every day. This is necessary to excrete not only the mother’s metabolites but also those of the baby. Water also helps regulate blood pressure.
PREGNANCY FOOD DON’TS
Now that we have looked at different foods that you can eat, let’s look at some food items which you should avoid.
1) Alcohol and alcoholic drinks: This often affects the healthy growth and development of your unborn baby. It could lead to a lower birth weight and other defects.
2) Caffeine and caffeinated drinks: High levels of caffeine is usually not recommended as it could also lead to a low birth weight which might cause other complications in your child in future.
3) Ginger: This could cause premature contracts and hence it is best to avoid it and meals and mixed spices which contain this throughout your pregnancy.
4) Raw or under-cooked eggs and/or foods that contain this: This could cause food poisoning which could lead to sever vomiting and/or diarrhea.
5) Raw or under-cooked meats and/or foods that contain this: This could also cause food poisoning which could lead to sever vomiting and/or diarrhea. It might also contain certain parasites which may affect your baby’s growth and development.
6) Un-boiled Milk and/or foods that contain this: Like raw meat, un-boiled milk could also contain parasites which might be harmful to your unborn baby.
7) Soft Cheese: This includes soft cheese with white rids or soft blue cheese which are often only safe if cooked properly. Though it is best to talk this over with your nutritionist and/or doctor first.
8) Herbal and Green Tea: Some websites do not recommend the consumption of herbal and green tea during pregnancy, however there is not enough scientific proof of its benefits or harmful nature during pregnancy. It is best to consume this at your own discretion and after consultation with your doctor and/or nutritionist.
9) Foods high in Fats and Sugar: These include items such as chocolate, crisps, deep fried foods and so on which might lead to excessive weight gain for you and your baby. These should be consumed in moderation or as recommended by your doctor and/or nutritionist.
FOODS THAT HELP COMBAT PREGNANCY SYMPTOMS:
1) Heartburn: Milk usually helps to minimize heartburn. Also try to eat small and frequent meals and avoid spicy, fatty and acidic foods and fruits.
2) Constipation: Fresh fruits and vegetables rich in fiber can help prevent and/or relieve constipation. It’s also best to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. If the constipation becomes too much you could ask your doctor for a pregnancy safe laxative.
3) Diarrhea: Whole grain bread, rice, oatmeal and bananas can help minimize diarrhea. However, if the symptom becomes too much its best to ask your doctor for some pregnancy safe medication to avoid dehydration.
4) Morning Sickness: Crackers and some cereals can help reduce this. Though it is always best to eat small and frequent meals and avoid spicy, fatty and acidic foods and fruits.
Before preparing any meal it is important to wash your hands, cooking surfaces and items thoroughly. Also, ensure that you wash the food items properly and cook your meals completely to help kill any parasites which might be present, this is especially true when preparing chicken dishes.
As mentioned above, it is important to talk to your doctor and/or nutritionist to get a proper menu in place that will help meet the nutritional needs of you and your unborn baby.