Healthy eating during pregnancy is a must for your baby’s development and growth. The kind of diet we encourage you to maintain in your pregnancy involves reshaping your eating habits for ensuring that you get enough nutrition for you and your baby’s health. 

What is the role of diet during pregnancy?

Diet during pregnancy is not about limiting calories or attempting to lose weight. Dieting for losing weight in pregnancy, on the contrary, can be dangerous to both you and the baby, mainly because a weight loss regimen can limit essential nutrients like folic acid, iron, and other vital minerals and vitamins. 

It is highly recommended to avoid popular diet programs (Raw Food Diet, Zone Diet, South Beach Diet, and Atkins Diet) during pregnancy.

Essential Foods During Pregnancy

a) Vegetables and Fruits

Veggies and fruits have several vital nutrients for pregnancy, mainly folic acid and vitamin C. Pregnant women require at least 70mg of vitamin C every day. It’s found in fruits like honeydew, grapefruits, and oranges and veggies like sprouts, brussels sprouts, tomatoes, and broccoli. 

Have 0.4mg of folic acid daily for preventing neural tube defects. Foods rich in folic acid include dark green leafy vegetables, legumes like veal, black-eyed peas, lime or black beans, etc. You must have at least 2 to 4 fruit servings and 4 or more vegetable servings regularly. 

b) Grains and Bread

The body’s essential source of energy for pregnancy is obtained from the vital carbohydrates in grains and bread. Whole grain products contain important nutrients like fiber, vitamin B, iron, and also protein. The necessary quantity of folic acid is available in fortified cereal and bread. 

According to your dietary requirements and weight, you must eat about 6 to11 Ounce (Oz) servings of grains/bread per day. 

c) Protein

Beans, eggs, fish, poultry, and meat have iron, vitamin B, and protein are required in pregnancy. Your growing baby needs abundant protein, particularly in your second and third trimester. 

You should have about 27mg of protein daily. Veal, turkey, liver, lamb, chicken, eggs, beans, tofu, cheese, milk, nuts and seeds, and lean beef are good options. However, it is best to avoid fish due to its high mercury content. Have at least 3 servings of protein every day.

d) Dairy Products

While you're pregnant, try to get at least 1,000 mg of calcium every day. It is needed for strengthening bones and teeth, improving nerve and muscle function, and for normal blood clotting. As the growing baby needs a considerable amount of calcium, your body will extract it from your bones if you don’t consume enough through your diet (it may result in problems like osteoporosis in the future). 

Rich sources of calcium are puddings, cream soups, yoghurt, cheese, and milk. Some calcium is also present in dried peas, beans, seafood, and green veggies. Have at least 4 servings of dairy products regularly.

Dietary Supplements During Pregnancy

a) Prenatal Vitamins

Although the nutrients and vitamins required in pregnancy must mainly come from your diet, regular intake of prenatal vitamins can help in filling small gaps if you unknowingly don’t receive sufficient key nutrients. If possible, have prenatal vitamins up to 3 months before conception. Discuss the most suitable supplement with your doctor. Remember that prenatal vitamins or other supplements can only complement your healthy diet in pregnancy. 

Daily Menu To Follow During Pregnancy

A healthy menu should include all the essential vitamins and minerals which are required for you and your baby. As a rule of thumb, 3 light snacks and 3 small and balanced meals throughout the day will meet your daily requirements during pregnancy.

Pregnant women need to ensure that their diet provides enough nutrients and energy for the baby to develop and grow properly. Consult your gynaecologist for your diet during your pregnancy.

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.