Pregnancy is one of the most amazing experiences any woman can have. Her love and care for her unborn child starts the moment she gets a positive pregnancy test result. That is why paying attention to our health is essential during the 40 weeks of this beautiful journey. Not only does it ensure the healthy development of the baby whilst inside the womb, but also because several studies reveal that life inside the womb determines the future health of the child, dietary preferences included.
Researches have shown that a baby’s eating habits – good or bad – are shaped in the womb by their mother’s own diets. This means that if the mother eats a lot of junk food while pregnant, the baby will crave for the same junk food later on in life; if the mom eats a balanced diet, she exposes her baby to a variety of flavors, including those of various vegetables and fruits, and that might lead to a more healthy eating style for the baby later in life.
Pregnant women who also ‘eat for two’ are likely to put their unborn children at risk of obesity as they increase their consumption of fatty and sugary foods to satisfy their food cravings. Although many moms-to-be are often worried about pregnancy weight, the extra pounds are actually inevitable. The key is to manage pregnancy weight gain by sticking to the ideal rate of gain through a balanced diet and healthy pregnancy habits.
To start, it is important to know that the amount of weight an expecting mom would gain depends on many factors, such as her pre-pregnancy BMI, lifestyle, daily food intake, fitness level and exercise routine. It is crucial to discuss this matter with your health care provider during the initial prenatal visit.
‘Eating for two’ while pregnant is also definitely a myth. In the first 3 months of pregnancy (first trimester), mothers-to-be don’t really need extra energy or calories from food. However, from the second trimester onwards, energy requirements increase by 300 to 500 calories or more depending on the recommendations of the health care provider.
Not only should we pay attention to the quantity of the foods we are consuming, but what’s more important is the quality.
Making smart choices while pregnant is very important because whatever you ingest, it is affecting your baby’s health.
Here are 5 options of healthy snacks you can include in your diet and that are packed with nutrients:
- Whole-grain rice cakes topped with peanut butter & natural fruit spread
- Low-fat yogurt topped with fresh berries and honey
- Home-made energy balls made from dates, nuts, chia seeds and desiccated coconut
- Whole-wheat and homemade zaatar crackers with guacamole sauce
- Cut-up vegetables with home-made hummus & beetroot dip
Over and above, there are some items to be avoided throughout pregnancy as they might be harmful for your baby’s healthy and could result in congenital defects such as:
- Raw/uncooked/undercooked meats, poultry and fish (e.g. sushi)
- Fish rich in mercury: shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish
- Oysters, clams and mussels
- Raw eggs and items made from raw eggs (e.g. mayonnaise, tiramisu)
- Deli meats/cold cuts (e.g. mortadella, salami, pepperoni, turkey, hot dogs)
- Soft and unpasteurized cheeses (e.g. brie, Roquefort, gorgonzola)
- Unpasteurized milk and dairy products
- Liver or liver products
- Vegetables and fruits that are not thoroughly washed
- Artificial sweeteners
- Caffeinated beverages
Here are Right Bite’s top general recommendations for a healthy pregnancy:
- Eat small and frequent meals especially if you are suffering from morning sickness &/OR heartburn, and to improve digestion.
- Consume food items rich in fiber (whole-fruits, vegetables, whole-wheat products, brown rice/pasta, whole grains such as oatmeal, quinoa, lentils) to avoid constipation.
- Enjoy all the food groups (grains, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, milk & dairy products) in moderation and in a balanced way.
- Minimize the consumption of simple sugars (sweets, baked good, cakes, custard and chocolates).
- Drink plenty of water to hydrate your body properly. Not only will this help avoid dehydration, it will also minimize water retention and swelling.
- Exercise regularly as per the physician instructions
Last but not least, eating healthily and gaining the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy will make it much easier for the mothers to shed off the pregnancy weight and to avoid all other pregnancy-related health complications.
Call 800HEALTHY to book an appointment with one of our licensed dietitians to get more advice and to get started on our Balanced Mom Meal Plan designed for a healthy pregnancy and post-pregnancy period during breastfeeding and for getting back into shape.