A healthy diet is important when you are pregnant. It is very necessary to ensure good health of baby and smooth delivery. Make sure you get good amount of vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat.
You must have a healthy breakfast daily. This is important to avoid unhealthy cravings and snacking. Eating healthy is all about including a balanced diet in your regime.
Here’s what you need to include and exclude in your pregnancy diet:
Fruit and Vegetables
Add a lot of fruits and vegetables in your diet during pregnancy. These are rich in fibre which helps in digestion and prevent constipation. Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables daily. Make sure you wash fresh fruit and vegetables thoroughly before eating.
Protein rich foods are very important during pregnancy. Some of the best sources of protein include:
– Meat (but avoid liver)
Skinless poultry and lean meat cooked in very less oil and fat is the best option. You must make sure that sausages, whole cuts, and poultry should be cooked well before consuming. Check for pink meat. Also the juices should have no or red in them.
Include at least two portions of fish in a week. This is good for fetal development week by week. Marlin, shark, and swordfish should be avoided during pregnancy. Raw or partially cooked eggs pose risk of salmonella. So these should be completely avoided.
Including dairy foods is important during pregnancy. The best ones include cheese, milk, yogurt, and fromage frais. These are high in calcium content and other nutrients good for you and your baby. It is advisable to choose low-fat varieties. Go for semi-skimmed milk.
If dairy products do not suit you, choose healthy dairy alternatives, such as yogurts and soya drinks. and yoghurts, go for unsweetened, calcium-fortified versions.
For more information, read about the nutritional benefits of milk and dairy foods. Unpasteurized cheeses should be avoided during pregnancy.
Avoid Foods High in Fat, Sugar or Both
Do not indulge in sugary foods and drinks. These are usually high in calories which can lead to excess weight gain. Fat is high in calories (empty). So when you indulge in fatty foods too often, you tend to put on more weight than needed. Excess saturated fat will increase the amount of cholesterol in blood which will increase the chance of developing heart disease.
Foods to Avoid (High in Fat):
– Spreading fats including butter
– Salad dressings (Mayo)
– Fizzy drinks
– Ice cream
If you crave for foods and drinks high in fat and sugar, reduce the quantity. Vegetable oils should also be reduced.
Healthy Snacks You can Consider during Pregnancy
It is natural to get hungry between meals. However, any temptation to eat unhealthy should be strictly avoided. Eating snacks high in fat, sugar such as ramen, sweets, crisps, chocolate can harm your child. These are devoid of any nutrients and high in calories. You can choose healthier options:
– Small sandwiches with vegetable and cottage cheese filling
– Pitta bread with grated cheese, lean chicken, or salmon with salad
– Salad with herbs and seasoning
– Fruit yogurt (low-fat)
– Vegetable sticks with hummus
– Whole meal pitta bread with hummus
– Apricots, figs or prunes
– Bean soups
– Vegetable soups
– Unsweetened breakfast cereal with milk
– Milk shakes / drinks
– Fresh fruits
– Small baked potato
– A slice of toasted fruit bread
Safe Preparation of Food
Wash Fruits and Veggies – It is important to wash fruits and vegetables properly. This is important to remove all traces of soil comprising of toxoplasma, a harmful parasite that can cause toxoplasmosis (harm unborn baby).
Clean Utensils and Surfaces – You must wash all utensils, surfaces, and your hands after preparing raw foods such as fish, poultry, eggs, raw vegetables, and shellfish. This is important help to avoid food poisoning.
Store Separately – Make sure all raw foods are stored separately from cooked or ready-to-eat foods. This is crucial to avoid contamination risk.
Separate Knife – A knife should be used for chopping board to cut raw meats.
Heat Properly – All of the ready meals should be heated until steaming hot. A boil would be a better option. This is more important for heating meals containing poultry.
Cook Well – Some foods such as burgers, eggs, sausages, poultry, and whole cuts of meat (beef, pork, and lamb) should be cooked very thoroughly.