Living an active lifestyle and eating a proper diet is essential in keeping ourselves healthy. This is never more important than when you are doing it for two people; you and your baby. Soon-to- be mothers who always consume a healthy diet will certainly have a big advantage, but even proper eating habits will need some reworking as being a healthy mother is different from being a healthy mother-to-be.
The first thing that a pregnant woman should understand is that you are taking in food for two people, and thus, should adjust their diet accordingly. This does not necessarily mean that you have to throw your old eating habits out the window, but rather, you should adjust your diet to take in more of the nutrients you love to help feed your body, and that of your growing baby.
Maintaining a healthy diet is still the primary goal for any pregnant mother, but there are fundamental differences between a pregnant mother’s diet and that of a non-pregnant woman. A healthy diet still consists of eating many fruits and vegetables!
Fat is Good:
It is important to understand that a growing fetus needs all of the necessary building blocks for it to be born a healthy baby. Fats play an essential role in tissue and cell development, and are a necessary component of a pregnant mother’s diet. However, fat intake is best limited to eating healthy, or “good fats".
There are four different groups of fats: Saturated, Monounsaturated, Polyunsaturated, and Hydrogenated fats. Of these, the “good fats" are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats are contained in avocados, olives, nuts and peanut oils. They are considered healthy because they lower cholesterol levels. Polyunsaturated fats, on the other hand, are rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. These are commonly found in fish, canola oil and soybeans.
Proteins are responsible for the development of tissue and body cells. Additional protein intake is especially important during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, where the baby is growing fastest and a woman’s body is trying to adjust to the baby. Protein is made up of amino acids that are used to build the baby’s heart, lungs and every major organ.
Additional protein is not only needed by the baby, but is also necessary for the mother. A pregnant mother increases her blood volume by 50 percent, which aids in the development of the placenta, amniotic fluids, and other maternal tissues.
Lean meat, beans, fish and dairy products are excellent sources of protein. Animal sources, however, fare better compared to its vegetable counterparts because they contain the complete amino acids. It is wise to mix up your nutritional sources to get the whole range of amino acids.
Vitamins and Minerals:
Getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals can be difficult even with the best diets. Health supplements, armed with vitamins and minerals, ensure that you and your baby can obtain the recommended doses to keep the two of you healthy. Women should understand that health supplements are not meant to replace eating, but serve only to fill in the gaps in your diet.
Taking in foods rich in iron, folic acid, and calcium are important for preventing birth defects, and for supporting the changes that take place in a woman’s body. During the first trimester of pregnancy, mothers are advised to increase folic intake to avoid neural birth defects. Iron is a major component in blood, and when your body is producing 50 percent more blood, then getting additional amounts of iron is important. Good food sources of folic acid include nut, beans, citrus fruits, and green leafy vegetables.
A lot of essential vitamins and minerals are found in plant foods. Aside from giving us these important nutrients, plants foods are also a rich source of fiber, which is important for achieving proper bowel movements. Many women suffer from digestive problems and constipation during pregnancy. As the baby grows in your womb, it exerts pressure on your digestive system. This can decrease the capacity of the stomach to hold food, so it is essential to move its contents quickly through your bowels. Fiber hastens digestion and helps you eliminate waste from your body.I would suggest reading the article on Fiber and Fruit as well.
Eat more; Eat small:
Lastly, even when you’re not hungry, chances are your growing baby might be. Try to eat more frequently, but keep the volume of food small. A growing baby places pressure on your stomach, and storing large amounts of food at one time causes discomfort. This is the reason why women often feel like vomiting, or suffer from heartburn when eating.
written by Ronald Uy, RN
H.I.C. Digestive Health ©2011
Pregnancy Diet and Nutrition. Retrieved May 10, 2011 HealthCastle.com: http://www.healthcastle.com/pregnancy-diet.shtml
An Ideal Diet During Pregnancy. Retrieved May 12, 2011 oneindialiving:http://living.oneindia.in/health/pregnancy/diet-during-pregnancy.html
What should I eat during pregnancy? Retrieved May 12, 2011 netdoctor: http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/health_advice/facts/pregnantdiet.htm