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Pregnancy Diet: Importance of Essential Nutrients

December 3, 2020

“A baby fills a place in your heart that you never knew was empty”

One of the most important things that you can do for your baby is to eat a healthy, nutritious, well-balanced diet, as the main source of baby's nourishment and development. The average woman does not need any extra calories during the first trimester, but only an additional 300 – 350 calories in the subsequent trimesters.

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Healthy eating plan

  • Avoid skipping meals – This causes your metabolism to slow down, which leads to feeling sluggish and making poorer choices later in the day.
  • Breakfast – Select high-fiber breads and cereals, colourful fruit, and protein to fill you with energy for the day.

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  • Focus on whole grains, plant-based foods, and fresh fruits - Heartburn, acidity, nausea, vomiting are common discomforts experienced during pregnancy. Natural foods such as coconut water, fresh fruit juices, fruits and vegetables, etc., are known for their positive effect in alleviating these discomforts, to an extent.

Although not a macronutrient, fiber is an important part of a healthy diet, which helps in overcoming constipation, prevention of gestational / pregnancy- induced diabetes, providing satiety to your diet, etc., Inclusion of whole grains, soy chunks, and tree nuts can help you in accommodating fiber apart from fruits and vegetables.

  • Choose antioxidant - Rich dark, leafy greens, such as spinach, and broccoli as well as orange and yellow vegetables, such as carrots, and yams are the best source of antioxidants.

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  • Take enough milk and dairy foods and bone up on calcium - Baby uses this mineral to build up his bones and teeth. It’s important to get plenty of calcium to support your bone health through servings of milk, yogurt, cheese, paneer. Non-dairy sources include tofu, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, and almonds. This will help avoid demineralisation of Calcium from mother’s bones to fill in the baby’s requirement.

  • Vary your Protein – Protein , a builder nutrient, is important in building up the organs of the baby, hence vary your sources with more beans, Lentils, peas, nuts, eggs, milk, cheese, Fish, and oil seeds, etc.

  • Check on your Folic Acid - Folic acid plays an important role as it reduces the risk of the development of neural tube defects in the brain and spinal cord of the baby. It occurs naturally, in the form of folates, in foods such as dark green leafy vegetables, flax seeds, oranges, whole grains, pulses, and fortified cereals.

  • Keep a check on your Iron intake - It becomes important to consume more iron while you are pregnant to ensure that you and your baby are getting enough oxygen in addition to avoidance of tiredness, weakness, irritability, and depression.

  • Boost your intake by eating iron – Iron rich foods such as lean red meat, dark poultry, lentils, spinach, almonds, and iron-fortified cereals are quintessential elements of pregnancy diet. Plant based sources are more easily absorbed by your body when eaten with vitamin C rich foods. Examples: Spinach salad with orange slices or adding tomatoes to lentil soup is examples.

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  • Vitamin D – We get most of our vitamin D intake, to enhance calcium absorption, immunity, through sun exposure and inclusion of certain Vitamin D rich foods such as fatty fish, egg yolk, and fortified milk.

  • Enjoy good fats - Fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K need fat in your system in order to absorb them. Foods rich in healthy fats include: olive and canola oil, olives, Avocados, flaxseed, nuts, coconut oil, fatty fish, Cheese, Ghee, Butter are sources of fats. Incorporate them in moderation to reap suitable benefits.

Adopting a healthy eating plan is an indispensable part of planning favourable outcomes in the mother and baby. Thus, what you eat and drink while your pregnancy is your baby's main source of nourishment. So, follow the guidance of experts and smartly choose a variety of healthy foods that will provide the important nutrients your baby needs for the growth and development.

Happy Pregnancy!!

Contributed by

- MS. NIVEDITA SINGH

- Gurgaon

- Clinical nutritionist

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