Pregnancy Diet is the nutritionally sound diet that women need to follow during the entire course of their pregnancy in order to provide maximum nourishment to the growing foetus and to be able to meet the additional demands that this phase of life brings with it. Pregnancy is a very delicate period in the life of a woman characterized by hormonal changes which affect the woman both physically as well as emotionally. Complete nutrition during pregnancy is critical for the normal growth and development of the foetus.
Laws governing Diet in Pregnancy
According to the RDA [Recommended Dietary Allowance], for a pregnant woman, calorie intake should be increased by 300 calories per day in addition to the requirement of a normal non-pregnant female.
Foods to be Included
- Although many pregnant women are plagued by symptoms of morning sickness characterised by feelings of nausea and vomiting during the initial months of pregnancy, it is very important that they consume a well-balanced diet all throughout.
- Incorporating a variety of foods in the diet can be helpful- both to maximise nutrient intake as well as to overcome any particular food aversions developed during that period.
- About 6-11 servings of cereals and grains including bread, 5-6 servings of fresh vegetables including green leafy vegetables, 2-4 servings of different fruits, at least 3-4 servings of high quality lean proteins such as fish, skinless poultry, lean meat (occasionally) or eggs, 3-4 servings of dairy products are recommended as part of a regular pregnancy diet.
- Refined sugars, fats and sweets must be used only sparingly if at all.
- Nuts are concentrated sources of energy, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. Additionally they form a source of protein.
- A high fiber diet is recommended including oats, whole wheat flours and breads, unpolished rice, legumes and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Adequate mineral and vitamin intake is advised –
- A minimum of 4 servings of dairy products including low-fat milk, yoghurt, buttermilk etc is necessary to ensure a daily intake of 1200-1500 mg of Calcium per day.
- Folic acid supplementation is started very early, right from the time a woman conceives her child right up to delivery and sometimes even beyond.
- A minimum of three-four servings of iron-rich foods like green leafy vegetables, legumes, dried fruits etc. in order to obtain approximately 30 mg of Iron per day.
- At least 75 mg of Vitamin C is essential and may be obtained from oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, bell peppers and so on.
- A multivitamin, multimineral supplement as recommended by the Doctor must be taken every day.
Foods to be Avoided
- Caffeine intake should be strictly limited, thus coffee intake must be reduced.
- Fat intake must be restricted to less than 30% of total calories consumed in a day.
- Cholesterol intake must be limited
- Alcohol consumption should be avoided during pregnancy as studies have linked it to birth defects and other complications associated with delivery.
- Use of artificial sweeteners like Saccharin must be avoided as they might cross the placenta and accumulate in foetal tissues, causing harm.
- It is advisable to avoid raw fish, shell fish, and certain soft cheeses to escape chances of infection.
Benefits of Pregnancy Diet
- Adequate fibre intake through whole grains, vegetables, fruits, oats and other fibre-rich foods ensures smooth bowel movements as it is important to avoid constipation.
- Folic acid intake ensures that the growing foetus is protected from Neural Tube Defects that could affect the developing spine of the infant.
- Iron intake is essential to form haemoglobin that plays the important role of supplying oxygen to all tissues and organs and to ascertain that the offspring enjoys an unrestricted supply of oxygen. Iron also helps the woman combat stress and fatigue.
- Proper protein intake ensures appropriate growth of foetal cells and organs, blood production, and helps to keep up with the needs of the growing infant.
- Adequate calcium intake during pregnancy is crucial and prevents the foetus from drawing calcium for its developing bones from the mother’s stores. If this happened, the mother’s bones would turn weaker and become more susceptible to osteoporosis later on in life.
- Morning sickness: High-fat foods to be avoided; crackers, cereals may be helpful. Restricted quantities are to be consumed.
- Heartburn: Small, frequent meals are recommended through the day. Spicy, salty foods to be avoided. Sipping on tender coconut water, buttermilk or plain milk is suggested.
Gourmet Pregnancy Diet
The Gourmet Pregnancy Diet is a fresh concept that is fast gaining a reputation among young pregnant women. It allows them the freedom to enjoy gourmet meals, right at home, with their families, using highest quality ingredients, and following simple preparation methods, providing the correct balance of nutrients, most suitable for their consumption. This diet not only caters to the nutritional requirements of pregnancy but also takes into consideration various symptoms and difficulties commonly experienced by women at this stage. What makes this diet so enjoyable is-
- Use of fresh local produce in the preparation of dishes
- Use of safe and healthy nutrient-dense ingredients such as anti-oxidant rich fruits, and vegetables.
- Minimal time for preparation
- Versatility – with some minor changes one dish can be revamped into a completely new one.
- No preservatives or additives involved, only use of organic ingredients.
Sample Menu for Gourmet Pregnancy Diet
- Breakfast: Stewed apples with fresh berries served on wheat-free pancakes with natural vanilla yoghurt. Provides soluble fibre and plenty of anti-oxidant benefits.
- Mid-morning: Grilled fresh peaches with grapefruit and mint. Good source of vitamins and minerals.
- Lunch: Thinly sliced salmon fillet that was pre-marinated, served on a bed of watercress, beetroot and asparagus salad. Watercress has abundant phytonutrients and protective anti-oxidants.
- Evening: Sunrise muffin – gluten and dairy free muffin prepared using apples, apricots and five spice powder. Flavourful and good source of fibre.
- Dinner: Brown rice with steamed broccoli and Asian roasted ginger, garlic pumpkin curry. A light yet wholesome meal.
Thus, a delectable Gourmet pregnancy diet menu can be prepared in a simple, tasteful and convenient manner providing the pregnant woman a fresh, balanced, guilt-free, wholesome experience.