Pregnancy is a special time in a woman’s life as she takes time to nurture the life that is growing within her. It is also a time in which many women choose to indulge themselves – as they rightly should. Don’t fight the cravings that will come your way. However, to avoid excessive weight gain, it is a good idea to have a diet plan for pregnancy. The right plan will help ensure that you gain a healthy pregnancy weight which can be lost within the first year of postpartum through exercise and clean eating.
So, what is the best diet for pregnancy? Let’s get into it.
1. How much weight you should be gaining during pregnancy
First and foremost, how much weight is it okay to put on during your pregnancy? Your physician is the best person to advise you on this matter as they will assess your physical fitness and current Body Mass Index (BMI) to ascertain a healthy weight to gain.
This BMI calculator by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute can help you determine your own weight prior to visiting the doctor. According to the BMI categories, you are considered underweight if your BMI works out to less than 18.5, normal weight if you’re between 18.5 and 24.9, overweight is when your BMI is between 25 and 29.9, and obese when your BMI is 30 or more.
If you’re underweight according to your BMI, you’ll be advised to put on anywhere between 15 to 20kg; if you’re within the normal weight range, your prescribed healthy weight gain will fall between 10 and 17kg. If you’re overweight then you should not put on more than 12kg and no less than 7kg. And finally, if you fall within the obese BMI range, your doctor will recommend you gain between 5kg and 9kg only. (Find out measurements in pounds)
If you gain too much this may pose challenges throughout your pregnancy and lead to complications at birth. Conversely, if you gain too little weight, you risk giving birth to a potentially small baby. What’s key is having a healthy pregnancy diet, incorporating some exercise into your daily routine, and that you don’t over-indulge in overly processed foods.
A nutritionist can help you with your meals if you’d rather get professional help. Together with your doctor, they can devise the best pregnancy diet plan complete with pregnancy nutrition explanations for you. In addition, consult with your doctor if you’re retaining a lot of water or if you’re not gaining as you should be based on your BMI.
Above all, enjoy your pregnancy and don’t stress too much over the weight, because you will gradually lose it postpartum through breastfeeding combined with exercise and a post-pregnancy diet regimen.
2. Foods to eat when you are pregnant
So, what exactly should you be eating during pregnancy? What does a healthy pregnancy diet compose of?
a. Fruit and vegetables
Top of the list of foods you should be eating are fruits and vegetables. Wholesome, organic, and filled with nutrients, you should eat a sizable portion of each every day – up to five portions. Fruits provide you vitamins that are needed to keep your immune system strong. They also provide the minerals needed for fetal development.
b. Starch carbohydrate-rich foods
We’re so used to being told carbs aren’t good for us. Actually our bodies need carbs for energy. It’s processed carbs that you need to limit, but eat as many naturally occurring carb-rich foods as possible. You’re looking at potatoes and brown rice. The occasional pasta and bread too.
Protein is needed for muscle and tissue formation for your growing baby. Obtain the needed protein from sources such as chicken, fish, beef, eggs, quinoa, tofu, soy products, nuts, seeds, and beans. According to some researchers, making a point to include seafood in your pregnancy diet is also a good idea as it may help to keep anxiety levels at a minimum.
While fat is needed it should not make up more than 30% of your diet. Too much fat will put your baby at risk of developing medical problems later on in life such as insulin resistance and diabetes. Keep your fat intake to unsaturated options such as sunflower oil, olive oil, sesame oil and fruit like avocados, and nuts in their various forms.
Calcium is a critical mineral needed for the development of bones and cell-structure. There is no shortage of calcium-rich foods out there. Take your pick of dairy foods from milk and yogurt to cheese. Good vegetable choices are mustard greens, soybeans, kale, Chinese cabbage, collards, broccoli, and bok choy.
3. Foods and drinks to avoid when you are pregnant
When you’re pregnant, it’s imperative to remember that everything you do will affect the little one growing in you in some way. Everything you put into your body eventually reaches the baby because of the placental link. Here are some foods and drinks that are best avoided if you can.
a. Mercury in some types of fish
Mercury is a metal that may be found in fish such as shark, marlin, and swordfish. Exposure to food containing mercury will not only harm you (your kidneys, nervous system and lungs) but will have a detrimental effect on the baby’s brain and hearing, and may affect vision too.
b. Uncooked or partially cooked meat
Pregnancy is not the time to eat food that is not cooked properly. All food should be thoroughly cooked to avoid bacterial and or viral contamination. Food that’s not cooked thoroughly may lead to food poisoning. This includes avoiding raw eggs and sushi.
Alcohol isn’t altogether banned if you’re pregnant but public health authorities highly recommend reducing your weekly glasses significantly. Your baby’s liver is not able to process alcohol the same way your adult liver can. A pregnant woman who drinks excessively risks her baby’s normal development. Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a condition that may result if a pregnant woman insists on drinking too much.
Does caffeine have any harmful effects on the mother and child? The recommended daily caffeine intake should not go beyond 200 milligrams per day. Anything beyond this and the mother risks having a miscarriage or giving birth to a baby with low birth weight. This in itself can cause health problems for the child in the future.
Joy of Life – Journeying together with you
Joy of Life is one of the premier surrogacy agencies in California. Our team is on hand to help you with this exciting and life-changing experience. If you have questions regarding the best diet for pregnancy, pregnancy diet tips or would like to talk to someone about pregnancy nutrition, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
Contact us using this form and we’ll be in touch.