A pregnant woman needs to ensure that her diet provides enough nutrients and energy for her baby to develop and grow properly and also to make sure that her body is healthy enough to deal with the changes that are occurring.
For a healthy pregnancy, the mother's diet needs to be balanced and nutritious; this involves the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, and consuming a wide variety of vegetables and fruits. If you are pregnant and your diet may be impacted by ethical beliefs, religious requirements, or health conditions, you should check with your doctor.
A pregnant woman's calorie intake grows during pregnancy. However, this does not mean she should eat for two like we meant to believe, her calorie consumption does not double, it just goes up. A woman who is not overweight at the start of her pregnancy, should gain between 25 to 35 pounds by the end of the nine months .Although Weight gain recommendations may also vary, depending on the woman's age, fetal development, and her current health, Excessive or insufficient weight gain can undermine the health of both the fetus and the mother.
What should I eat during my pregnancy?
As mentioned above, the mother should follow a varied, balanced, and nutritious diet, and it must include:
1. Starchy carbohydrate rich foods
Starchy carbohydrate-rich foods include potatoes, rice, pasta, and bread.
2. Fruit and vegetables
Plenty of fruits and vegetables are essential for a healthy pregnancy, Aim for five portions of fruit and/or veggies per day. They may be in the form of juice, dried, or fresh. Fresh fruits usually have a higher vitamin and other nutrient content. Experts stress that eating fruit is usually better for you than just drinking the juice.
The amount of fat a woman eats before becoming pregnant depends on each person, who should receive an individualized nutritional assessment. For the majority of women, no more than 10% of their daily calorie consumption should come from saturated fat, less than 10% from polyunsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fat is the best.
During pregnancy fat should make up between 25% and 35% of a woman's daily calories. This depends on her carbohydrate goals. Monounsaturated fats are preferable to saturated fats. Examples of foods high in monounsaturated fats include olive oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, canola oil, avocadoes, and many nuts and seeds.
Good animal-sourced proteins include fish, meat and chicken, as well as eggs. Vegan mothers should consider the following foods as good sources of protein: Quinoa known as a "complete protein", it is said to have all the essential amino acids, soy products. Beans, nuts, seeds and nut butters are also good sources of protein. Note that Beans are also rich in iron.
Wholegrain foods, such as whole meal wholegrain bread, wild rice, wholegrain pasta, pulses, fruit and vegetables are rich in fiber. Women have a higher risk of developing constipation during pregnancy; eating plenty of fiber is effective in minimizing that risk. Studies have shown that eating plenty of fiber during pregnancy reduces the risk or severity of hemorrhoids, which also become more common as the fetus grows. Fiber can also help prevent obesity; something the mother should try to avoid.
Zinc is a vital trace element. It plays a major role in normal growth and development, cellular integrity and several biological functions, including nucleic acid metabolism and protein synthesis. Since all these functions are involved in growth and cell division, zinc is important for the growth and development of the fetus.
The best sources of zinc include chicken, turkey, ham, shrimps, crab, oysters, meat, fish, dairy products, beans, peanut butter, nuts, sunflower seeds, ginger, onions, bran, wheat germ, rice, pasta, cereals, eggs, lentils, and tofu. If you are concerned about your zinc intake, talk to your doctor who may advise supplements.
It is important to have a healthy daily intake of calcium. Dairy foods, such as milk, cheese, milk and yoghurt are rich in calcium. If the mother is vegan, she should consider the following calcium-rich foods, calcium fortified soy milk and juices, calcium set tofu, soybeans,broccoli, collards, cabbage, mustard greens, kale, and soyanuts.
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