Pregnancy Diet & Food: What to Eat & What to Avoid

When we talk about diet and food habits during pregnancy, expectant mommies have their hands full with a huge library of information. There is advice pouring in from all corners -experienced moms, elder women, and of course, the internet. While these are valuable sources, moms- to- be  should know what to follow and what to ignore.

By the time I was a mom of two kids, I had my own filtered and healthy pregnancy diet plan that I will now share with you. Let’s first understand how these nutrients are essential during pregnancy:

Pregnancy diet chart- Recommended nutrient requirements

To avail the optimum amount of nutrients from your pregnancy food, you should focus on the following food groups: Fruits, vegetables, lean protein, dairy, and whole grains. Ideally, in pregnancy, you need 300 extra calories a day. Pregnant moms need a higher dose of calcium, iron, protein and folic acid. A pregnancy diet week-by-week chart could be beneficial in guiding them in deciding which pregnancy food is best for them.

What foods should I eat during pregnancy?

Fruits and Vegetables

Recommended diet – 3-4 servings of fresh seasonal fruits a day

Include at least one citrus fruit like Orange, Kiwi, Grapefruit, and Honeydew as they are rich in Vitamin C. You can drink one glass of fresh lime juice per day. Fruits provide fiber, folic acid, and vitamin C. Include a handful of dried fruits in your diet per day, as well.

Recommended diet – 3-5 servings of Vegetables a day

When we talk about veggies, think of filling your plate with a colorful platter of red (tomatoes, bell peppers), green (spinach, kale), yellow (corn, yellow peppers), orange (carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin)! Vegetables are low in calories and high in fiber and nutrition.

Protein

Recommended diet – 3 servings of Protein per day

Protein-rich foods include eggs, poultry, fish, tofu, cheese, meat, nuts, and seeds. Caution: not all fishes are safe in pregnancy. For example: king mackerel contains methyl mercury which can cause developmental issues in the fetus. The developing fetus requires additional protein intake in the second and third trimesters.  These pregnancy foods also contain good amounts of Iron and B vitamins.

Dairy products

Recommended diet – 1000 mg of calcium per day, 4 servings of dairy products per day

Your developing baby needs an adequate amount of calcium for the development of bones and teeth, and proper functioning of nerves and muscles. Include milk, cheese, yogurt, and cheese in your pregnancy foods, especially from the second trimester onwards.

Whole grains

Recommended diet – 6-11 servings of bread/whole grains daily

Whole grain foods like bread, oatmeal, pasta, and brown rice are important sources of iron, B-vitamins, carbohydrates, and fiber. Fortified bread and cereal contain folic acid also. As you progress in your pregnancy, your body would require higher amounts of energy, thus, you can gradually increase your whole grain food intake.

What foods should I avoid during pregnancy?

Caffeine

Limit your intake of caffeine to 200 mg/one cup a day as too much caffeine is associated with premature births and miscarriages. For those who like to sip their tea more than once a day, caffeine-free pregnancy tea and coffee is an option. These herbal tea concoctions are free of caffeine, are energy boosters, and also supply the mom and baby with healthy herbal nutrients.

Fish

While fish like Salmon and Sardines are healthy pregnancy foods, some fish contain high levels of mercury which are harmful to the fetus’s brain development. Avoid seafood like Swordfish, Shark, King Mackerel, and White Tuna, while expecting. All fish contain a certain amount of mercury; limit your intake to 6 ounces (0.17kg) per week.

Unpasteurized & Raw Food

Pregnant women must avoid unpasteurized milk, fish, and meat as they could lead to different kinds of food poisoning and life-threatening infections. Raw eggs, sprouts, lettuce, unwashed fruits, and vegetables could be carriers of germs like Salmonella and E. coli. Cook the eggs well before eating them. Other uncooked and raw foods to avoid are hot dogs, cold cuts, salads, sprouts like Alfalfa, luncheon meat, and cheeses made from unpasteurized milk. Soft cheese made from pasteurized milk can be eaten in limited quantities.

Alcohol

Alcohol crosses the placenta and passes directly to the baby from the mother’s blood. Hence, drinking alcohol is a no-no in pregnancy. Heavy drinking of alcohol can lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), a condition that disrupts the physical and mental development of the fetus, causing abnormalities in the baby.

So, this was my list of healthy pregnancy diet foods! While eating for two in pregnancy is a complete myth, eating healthy is a must. Also, avoid artificial sweeteners, diet sodas, and processed foods as they have no nutritional value. Vary your diet, make a week-by-week pregnancy diet chart and keep making variations to your diet to get the maximum nutrition from your food.

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