Deciding on having a baby and proper dietary planning will help you write a memorable chapter in your life that will announce the arrival of the stork with a bundle of joy.
Lifestyle modifications specifically about food intake is a vital factor in planning for pregnancy. Food provides nourishment to the body and the right type of food can contribute to the ideal conditions for pregnancy and childbirth.
Things to avoid
Alcohol intake and smoking should be avoided.
Talk to your healthcare provider
It is also important to discuss with your doctor and make sure that you are not on any medications that are contraindicated and could interfere with your pregnancy.
Knowing your ideal body weight
There is no one size fits all diet, and it is dependent on the individual makeup. The body mass index (BMI) is a measure of your body weight based on the height and weight. This BMI should be within acceptable limits.
Rule out food allergy
One must ensure that she is not allergic to any particular fruit, vegetable or nuts. Identify the allergen early and eliminate them from your diet.
Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly as bacterial residues and wild yeasts in fruits such as grapes could irritate the stomach.
Varied and well-balanced diet
Healthy eating is essential for every living person and especially more important for the soon to be the mothers.
What is most important is eating a healthy, well-balanced diet that contains starchy foods, plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, pulses, fish, eggs, meat, dry fruits, nuts, milk and other proteins. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and minerals. Avoid juice extracts of fruits, as they are devoid of fibre. Fibre helps in digestion and prevents constipation. Stay well hydrated by drinking enough water. A daily intake of 6 – 8 glasses of water are required for a normal healthy person.
Avoid binge eating
Do not eat to full capacity. The key is moderate eating of the right portions to maintain a healthy body weight. A close monitoring of your diet is important as the accumulation of excess fat reserve could cause more harm to you and the unborn. Use lower-fat and lower-sugar options. Avoid or minimise consumption of refined foods, the “three whites” – sugar, maida, and salt.
Essential vitamins and minerals required during pre-pregnancy
Two additional supplements that are required in generous doses are iron and folic acid. Folic acid is important in the development of the baby’s central nervous system.
Iron is required to prevent anaemia, a condition when the haemoglobin in the blood is low. Maternal anaemia can also affect the unborn. Haemoglobin carries oxygen to the cells in the different organs of the human body.
A woman contemplating pregnancy requires consuming about 27 milligrams of iron in her daily diet. There are two types of iron:
- From animal sources
- Non-heme iron from plant sources
It is important to include both the types of iron in the diet.
The recommended intake of folic acid (a vitamin-B form) before and up to 12 weeks of pregnancy is 400 micrograms per day. These are present in natural foods such as seafood, poultry, red meat, green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits. Avoid raw partially cooked meat and eggs.
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- 10 food high in iron – everyday health – Accessed on 22 March 2016 – http://www.everydayhealth.com/pictures/foods-high-in-iron/
- Eating a balanced diet – NHS choices – Accessed on 22 March 2016 – http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/Healthyeating.aspx
- Have a healthy diet in pregnancy – NHS choices – Accessed on 22 March 2016 – www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/healthy-pregnancy-diet.aspx