How to create a balanced pregnancy diet plan

If you’re planning on having a baby or are already a mommy-to-be, chances are you’re worried or wondering about your diet. Every pregnant woman looks for the perfect pregnancy diet – one that nourishes her baby energizes her and hopefully prevents her from gaining too much weight. A healthy pregnancy diet plan means a balanced diet that will sustain you and the tiny life you have growing inside you. The oft-repeated adage “eat for two” doesn’t mean you double the amount of food you eat. While pregnant, you only need to consume an additional 300 calories for yourself and your baby. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind while formulating a healthy pregnancy diet plan.

Early pregnancy diet plan

It is imperative you maintain a healthy diet as soon as your pregnancy is confirmed. Some women suffer from severe morning sickness and struggle to keep their food down. If you’re one of them, strive to eat small frequent meals throughout the day to keep your energy levels up. Heavy meals lead to queasiness, so keep your meals light and not fatty.

In the early stages, your doctor will prescribe folic acid to aid your pregnancy diet, at times even while planning to have a baby. Ideally, you need 400 micrograms before conceiving and an increased dosage of  600 micrograms once the pregnancy is confirmed.

Diet plan during pregnancy

Your pregnancy diet should not change drastically from your regular diet, in terms of quantity. You only need around 300 more calories during early pregnancy, roughly 350 more during mid-pregnancy and around 500 calories during the final stages of pregnancy. Your pregnancy diet needs to be well-balanced and include a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, proteins, whole grains and a healthy amount of fats.

Carbohydrates: Cereals, pulses, and whole grains are excellent sources of carbohydrates and energy. They keep nausea and constipation at bay and are good for you and your baby.

Calcium: Skimmed milk, buttermilk, and yogurt are a great addition to your pregnancy diet. Essentially, your pregnancy diet should consist of four portions of calcium-rich food per day. Green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale are a rich source of calcium, too. You can even speak to your doctor about prescribing a calcium supplement.

Protein: Ideally, a healthy pregnancy diet plan must include three servings of protein-rich food per day. If you’re a vegetarian, you can include nuts, dry fruits and soya in your diet. For non-vegetarians, meat, fish, and eggs will provide you with concentrated protein. However, ensure you’re eating lean meats, skinless chicken, and fresh fish.

Vitamins and minerals: A healthy pregnancy diet plan must include Vitamin C. Citrus fruits are rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants. Yellow and green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are rich in vitamins, minerals, folic acid, riboflavin and other nutrients necessary for a healthy pregnancy diet.

Fats: Contrary to popular belief, fats are an essential part of your diet but must be consumed in moderation. Omega 3 fatty acids, specifically DHA, are most beneficial during your third trimester and are vital for the development of your baby’s eyes and brain. Get your daily requirement of healthy fats from oil, butter, dairy, and nuts – all of which must be consumed in moderation to prevent unhealthy weight gain.

Fluids: When talking about pregnancy diet and nutrition, it is important to always stay hydrated. Remember, you need to drink enough to fulfill even your baby’s requirements. Water, milk, coconut water, fruit and vegetable juices are healthy ways of providing your body with fluids.

Things you need to avoid:

There are certain foods and drinks you should avoid during pregnancy, as they can prove fatal to your baby’s health and development.

Alcohol: You must avoid all forms of alcohol as it can have severe effects on your baby development and even cause disabilities.

Raw meat and eggs: Beware of eating raw or undercooked meat and eggs as they contain dangerous bacteria.

Unpasteurized milk: Raw, unpasteurized milk contains listeria, a type of bacteria that is life-threatening to the fetus.

Raw seafood: Say goodbye to raw or undercooked seafood such as sushi, sashimi, clams and oysters as the bacteria found in them is dangerous for your pregnancy. Avoid eating large fishes like tuna, shark, and mackerel as they could contain mercury; this is harmful to your baby’s nervous system.

Caffeine: Cut out or reduce the amount of tea and coffee you consume in a day. Drinking less than 200mg of coffee in a day is considered safe for a pregnancy diet. Excessive caffeine consumption during pregnancy can increase your risk of miscarriage.

You don’t have to give up on your favorite foods just because you’re on a pregnancy diet. Treat yourself now and then but bear in mind not to consume anything that could harm you or your baby. Head over to Little West Street for some baby essentials you may need before the arrival of your little one.