Nutrition in Pregnancy
Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful experiences you will ever have. In all the excitement, you may forget how important it is to eat right and monitor your nutrition during pregnancy. A good pregnancy diet plan will include many of the most nutritious foods while, at the same time, reminding you of which ones you should avoid.
The ratio of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins during pregnancy is somewhat different due to the additional needs of the baby. Learning to adjust your diet during pregnancy will ensure that both you and your baby get all of the nutrients you need to be as healthy as possible both before and after the birth. Eating the right food during pregnancy will ensure you and your baby remain as healthy as possible.
Your baby will require an abundance of protein for proper development. There are many good protein foods to choose from. Poultry, lean meats, eggs, and fish are the best options. You can also get plenty of proteins in pregnancy by eating beans, seeds, nuts, soy products, and dairy foods. Eat a variety of foods that are protein-rich and vitamin/mineral dense. You can keep your diet interesting and enjoy your meals. Both you and your baby will require an abundance of protein. The proper development of the baby's soft tissues, brain, organs, and blood rely on large amounts of protein, both to lay the foundation and continue to maintain sufficient growth.
Carbohydrates provide energy. When you are pregnant, that means energy to get you through the day as well as the energy that your baby will need to thrive during its development. Simple carbohydrates like fruits will break down incredibly fast and provide you with quick bursts of energy. Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, break down slowly, giving you a steady flow of energy to keep you moving and sustain bodily functions.
During pregnancy, it's important that approximately a third of your diet is carbohydrates. This can include fresh fruits, grains, and a variety of starchy foods. There are certain foods to avoid during pregnancy. Eating too many simple sugars may cause you to gain weight quickly. It's important to know when to eat certain types of food as important. A good example is sweet potatoes. They are full of nutrients but will break down quickly and may flood your body with calories when you won't have enough time to burn them all before your rest.
Dairy products offer two forms of protein that are beneficial during pregnancy. These are whey and casein. In addition to the proteins, dairy foods also provide an abundance of calcium, B vitamins, phosphorus, and magnesium that both you and your baby will need to remain healthy during this very active time. Eating probiotic yogurt is a great way to keep your gut in balance during pregnancy and prevent constipation and other issues. Even if you are lactose intolerant, you may be able to tolerate certain types of yogurt.
Vegetables and Fruits
Fresh fruits and vegetables will be your best sources of nutrients during pregnancy. They are also responsible for much of your folate and folic acid consumption. Folate and folic acid are necessary to prevent birth defects. Eating an abundance of leafy green vegetables, dried beans, and citrus fruits will help you get the necessary amounts. There are a few fruits to avoid during pregnancy. Foods that contain bromelain (pineapple, papaya, etc.), can result in premature labor. Bromelain is known to soften the cervix and trigger labor if it is consumed in large quantities.
Foods to avoid during pregnancy include high-fat foods. Anything that is fried in oil will contain an excessive amount of fat. While fat should make up about 10 to 15% of your total food consumption, more than that can cause you to gain excessive amounts of weight and may even have an adverse effect on your heart and cardiovascular system.
As a pregnancy food to avoid, high-fat foods may fall into the category of comfort foods. During pregnancy, your emotions can swing out of control at times. Try to avoid using food to comfort your emotions. Find someone to talk to or take up a hobby like drawing. This will help you avoid gaining an unhealthy amount of weight that may be hard to lose after your little one arrives.
While processed sugar may make your food taste better, it can spell disaster during pregnancy. Avoid eating foods that are known to contain processed sugars. This includes chocolates, pastries, and most carbonated drinks. Instead, add healthy sugars to your diet. Include foods that are naturally sweet as part of your pregnancy diet. A good pregnancy diet plan will include foods that taste good without a lot of processing or unnecessary additives or preservatives.
Add fresh fruit to yogurt and oatmeal instead of a lot of sugary flavorings. Fruit juices can also be added to sweeten certain recipes. While it is fine to indulge yourself occasionally with sugar-rich food, consume them in moderation. Whenever possible, eat fruits when they are fresh. Dried fruits are great as a snack, but they contain a massive amount of sugar that can be very hard on both you and the baby.
Healthy Snack Ideas
During pregnancy, snacks will become your friend. They are a great way to knock down cravings and will give you the bursts of energy you will need to get through the day. Eating a small handful of dried fruit and nuts will give you both the nutrients and calories you will need to get through the roughest part of your day. Other snack ideas include:
A small plate of fresh fruit and cheese will fill you up and give you a quick burst of energy
Cheese and crackers are a great blend of carbohydrates and protein that will give you a moderate, but sustainable energy boost and will fill you up so you don't feel hungry anymore
Cheese and meats – While eating a lot of processed meats during pregnancy may be frowned upon, this is one time when it may be okay to indulge yourself
Trail mix will give you a little bit of everything, fruits, nuts, grains, seeds, and even a few pieces of chocolate or caramel to keep things sweet and tasty
If you love to snack, try and choose the healthiest options. Avoid potatoes chips, pretzels, and other carbohydrates that will only add empty calories to your pregnancy diet plan. Before you leave the house, take a few snack bags with you. It will keep you from stopping to buy unhealthy snacks that you may regret later.
Is it necessary to eat for two?
The phrase “eating for two” is true when you are pregnant. If you only eat for yourself, the baby will not receive the nutrients it needs to develop. You will also not consume enough calories for the baby to grow and develop the way it should. While every mum and baby will be different when it comes to nutrient and calorie requirements, it is essential that you increase both enough to provide what will be needed. You will need to maintain your own health and also have enough left over to support the development and growth of your unborn child.
If you are unsure of what you need during pregnancy, talk to your doctor. They will be able to advise you on what your protein/carbohydrate/fat ratio should be during all three stages of your pregnancy. Different stages of pregnancy will require more nutrients and calories than others. Work with your doctor to come up with a pregnancy diet plan that is right for you and your unborn baby.
What is the recommendation for calorie intake during pregnancy?
Each trimester will require a different calorie intake due to the growth and development pattern of your baby. During the first trimester, you will require approximately 1,800 calories. This kickstarts the baby's development and provides it with what it needs to develop properly. You will also want to consume nutrient-rich foods during this time for proper brain/blood/body development.
During the second trimester, you will need to consume about 2,200 calories per day. This maintains the baby's steady growth and will provide you with the energy to keep up with your ever-changing body and daily routine. While the baby's growth is still going strong, you will want to maintain a higher than normal intake of nutrients as well.
The third trimester will require the most calories. Approximately 2,400 calories a day will be needed to ensure that your baby completes the development process and begins to gain the strength it will need during the birthing process. This will also keep you strong and healthy as well. You will also be preparing to lactate so having the additional calories will make it possible for you to start to produce what you will need to support that function.
As you come to the end of your pregnancy, you may want to continue with your pregnancy diet plan during the first year of your baby's life, or at least while you are breastfeeding. This ensures that both you and your child continue to receive the nutrients and calories you will need to thrive.