As soon as you come to know that you’re pregnant, you start feeling anxious about a healthy pregnancy diet. Since whatever you eat during pregnancy has a direct impact on your unborn baby’s development, growth, and health, you need to be very clear of what you should eat and what you shouldn’t. If you’re confused about your pregnancy diet, read our pregnancy nutrition guide and find out what to eat and avoid during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, your goal should be to eat nutritious foods most of the time. To maximize prenatal nutrition, we recommend you eat as much of the following foods as you can:
Include lots of fresh fruits and veggies in your pregnancy diet as they are a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Whenever possible, try to choose locally grown, in-season, organic vegetables and fruits. Also, make sure to consume at least six servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
Apart from being rich in fibers and proteins, beans and pulses also provide other key nutrients for pregnancy, like iron, folic acid, zinc, magnesium, and calcium. As these minerals protect you from diseases like Hemorrhoids and Constipation, you must add beans and sprouts to your soups, salads, and noodles while you’re pregnant.
If you’re a pure vegetarian, include a fistful of almonds, cashews, peanuts, hazelnuts, or pistachios in your pregnancy diet to fulfill your body’s requirement of protein, calcium, omega-3s and folates. Needless to say, they are a perfect choice for on-the-run snacks!
Rich in fiber and packed with an array of nutrients like zinc, iron, selenium, magnesium, vitamin B, and E, whole grains are a dependable source of energy for a pregnant woman. These include brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, popcorn, whole-wheat pasta or bread.
Especially in the 3rd trimester, aim for at least 4 servings of dairy foods per day, such as milk, yogurt, buttermilk, and cottage cheese. All these dairy products contain high amounts of calcium, which plays a vital role in strengthening your baby’s bones and teeth.
Leafy green vegetables – such as broccoli, spinach, cabbage, mint, and romaine – are an excellent source of folates, vitamins and other nutrients like iron and calcium. Adding them to your diet will minimize the risk of neural tube defects in your baby.
Rich in choline, which promotes tissue and brain development in babies, lean meat is an excellent source of high-quality protein, iron, and vitamin B. Not only it maintains the formation of red blood cells in the fetus but also it ensures his muscles develop properly.
Being a great source of calcium, potassium, folic acid, iron, fiber and vitamin A, dried apricots are a must-eat item for pregnant women. They boost your immune system and also protect you from various diseases of kidneys and thyroid during pregnancy.
In addition to above nutritious foods which are considered safe to consume for a pregnant woman, there are quite a number of foods you must steer clear of during pregnancy, including:
Some research show that high consumption of caffeine during pregnancy slows down the body’s absorption of iron and may lead to anemia, miscarriage, premature birth, fetal growth retardation, and underweight baby. So better to avoid tea, coffee, cola, soda or any aerated/caffeinated drinks while you’re pregnant.
Avoid all beer, wine, and hard liquor when you’re pregnant. Consumption of alcohol during pregnancy can cause your baby Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and other developmental disorders. As there is no safe level of consumption, alcohol must be completely avoided during pregnancy.
Avoid foods containing raw or partially-cooked meat, seafood, poultry, and eggs. Such foods can put you at the risk of contracting diseases such as Salmonellosis, Toxoplasmosis, and Listeriosis. In fact, they must be avoided at all times in life in addition to pregnancy.
Don’t eat hot dogs, sandwich bars, cold cuts, luncheon meats, and other deli meats such as turkey breast, ham, salami, and bologna. These may contain listeria – a genus of bacteria that causes miscarriage or premature birth. Instead, choose homemade sandwiches filled with fully-cooked fresh meat!
When you’re pregnant, stay away from unpasteurized food, milk, juice, cider and other dairy products such soft and semi-soft cheeses. These may contain bacteria and viruses such as Campylobacter, E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella, which are definitely not good for you and your unborn baby.
Although seafood is an excellent source of proteins, minerals and omega 3 fatty acids, you must avoid certain kinds of fish during pregnancy, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, marlin, shellfish, and sushi. Containing high levels of methyl-mercury, these species of fish are severely detrimental to the fetal brain, kidneys and nervous system.
Avoid ordering pre-prepared or pre-packaged salads – like ham salad, chicken salad, tuna salad, and seafood salad – during pregnancy. Store-bought deli salads may contain Listeria that causes miscarriage, stillbirth or preterm labor. Instead, opt for freshly prepared homemade salads.
Eat salty foods in moderation because high intake of salt will make your changing pregnant body retain more water, which can further increase your blood pressure and swelling. Also, avoid eating sugary foods like sweets as they will do nothing but make you gain weight unnecessarily.
Hopefully, this guide will clear all of your doubts about what to eat and what to avoid during pregnancy. You may also consider this comprehensive Infographic created by Precision Nutrition for more information. Also, don’t forget to browse our exclusive collection of maternity wears, designed to keep you comfortable and stylish during all stages of your pregnancy and beyond.