What you eat during your pregnancy determines how your baby will fare in the later days. The health and wellbeing of the baby is directly proportional to the expectant mother’s diet. Hence, it pays to be extra careful when eating and drinking during pregnancy.
But most women are confused about what to eat during pregnancy. Should they continue their usual junk food diet or adopt a healthier one? Should they use special cooking oils or avoid oil altogether? Should they eat more or is the usual quantity fine?
It is best to follow a pregnancy diet prescribed by the doctor or an experienced nutritionist. The basic rule of thumb about what to eat during pregnancy is: include all food groups.
Fruits and vegetables: Raw vegetables and fruits provide fibre and essential nutrients for the growth of the baby. You also get water-soluble vitamins, minerals, sugars and roughage from fruits and vegetables. Instead of consuming canned fruit juices, eat fruits whole to get maximum fibre. Vegetable salads are delicious and easy to digest as well. Sprinkle a few drops of lemon juice over each salad to aid digestion.
Eggs: Most of your dietary protein requirement can be procured from eggs. Be sure to consume two to three eggs a week. Instead of frying them in butter or oil, consume them by boiling them or baking to make French toast. If you do not like eggs or if you are a vegetarian, you can get protein from pulses and leafy green vegetables.
Milk: Milk and milk products provide the recommended calcium intake during pregnancy. Calcium is needed for the strong growth of your and your baby’s bones. You can get calcium from a glass of milk, a cube of unsalted cheese, unsalted butter, buttermilk, yoghurt and paneer.
Fish: Oily fish are excellent sources of fats and protein needed during pregnancy. However, do not consume fish fried or overly salted during this time. Steamed, boiled or lightly roasted is fine.
Sugar: Try and get your sugar intake from sweet fruits such as dates, grapes, mangoes, oranges and melons. The sugars in these fruits are easier to process as compared to processed white sugar. It is better to satisfy a sweet tooth with a fruit than with snacks such as cakes and cookies made of refined flour (which has a high glycaemic index). If you absolutely want a pop of sweetness, have a spoonful of honey or a small piece of jaggery.
Stay away from: Excess oil, sugar, salt, red meat, spicy food, refined flour, deep fried snacks, packaged food and drinks, foods containing MSG and lead, fish containing high levels of mercury.