Food determines health - it is after all, one of the most important factors keeping us alive. During pregnancy, the food you choose has a huge impact on you, your baby and most of all, your pregnancy experience, and postpartum health.
As you may already know, a balanced diet is crucial at every stage of life. At no point in time should you neglect your health, and healthy food should be a part of your everyday routine. Making healthy food a habit keeps you and your baby healthy for a long time, and it also reduces the risk of various illnesses.
Of course, you may be confused about what foods you should or shouldn’t eat. But the real problem you may face is not knowing what some of the best foods are, that you may be missing out on in your diet.
First of all, remember that pregnancy is a time when you should never totally cut out any food groups - you should eat enough carbohydrates, protein, fats and vitamins, minerals and trace elements, and drink enough water.
That made clear, you can optimise and get the best out of your food by choosing some of the best foods during your pregnancy. After all, you do want to get your baby a variety of nutrients.
1. Rice, ragi, whole wheat and oats
Nutrients: Whole grains like rice, ragi and oats are going to be important sources of energy for both you and your baby. Despite your fear that calories may make you gain weight, you need the energy for both you and your baby. These grains are a wholesome source of energy, as well as fiber. They also contain proteins, iron, zinc and vitamins.
How: Make sure to cook your grains well, but avoid overcooking them too. Avoid refined forms of these grains - like maida. Also make sure your meal is not simply grains - include vegetables and protein sources.
Nutrition: Eggs are a source of protein, vitamins and minerals. It is good to eat an egg a day, as eggs also give your body good cholesterol and keep your heart healthy. Moreover, they have been linked to a healthy pregnancy.
How: Boiled eggs are the safest bet, as they have no additives like oil. However, if you don’t enjoy boiled eggs, it is also okay to make yourself an omelette or scrambled eggs with butter or olive oil, which are safer than refined vegetable oils.
Nutrition: Walnuts are a plant-based source of healthy fats and an important source of Omega-3, which is very important during pregnancy, as well as to keep heart diseases and diabetes under control. They are also good for your skin and hair, which is an added bonus.
How: Walnuts can be eaten by themselves, but if you find them bland, you can eat it with fruit salad - the combination of fruits and the crunch of the walnut make a tasty snack.
4. Beans and lentils
Nutrition: Women need extra protein during pregnancy, and beans and lentils are a safe, plant-based source of protein. The fiber also helps combat constipation during pregnancy. Lentils are also a rich source of Folic acid, which is essential during pregnancy for nervous system development of the baby.
How to eat them: Dal as well as rajma curry can be eaten with rice or roti, and boiled beans can also be added to solids.
5. Dairy products
Nutrients: Dairy products like yoghurt are an important source of calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin D that are important for the development of bones, heart, nerves and muscles of the baby, during pregnancy. Moreover, Vitamin D has been linked to reduced risks of miscarriage.
How: If you’re not a fan of milk, yoghurt and cheese are equally good options. However, skip dairy products if you are lactose-intolerant.
Nutrients: Spinach contains iron, folic acid and vitamins. Eating spinach and leafy greens during pregnancy has also been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease in the baby.
How: You can add spinach into your fruit smoothies, or into stir-fry dishes. You should remember however to wash it well to avoid stomach illnesses.
Nutrients: Salmon has omega-3, as well as healthy fats and protein. Salmon is also lower in mercury content compared to other fish. Seafood has also been linked to an increased chance of pregnancy.
How: Cook fish well, but avoid overcooking. Also make sure to limit intake to just twice a week so that you can reduce the risk of mercury poisoning.
Nutrients: Bananas give you fibre, essential fats, vitamins and minerals. One such nutrient is potassium, which may reduce the swelling you experience. It is also a good energy boost and can give your mood a boost.
How: You can add bananas to smoothies, or you can eat it as fruit salad. You can also bake recipes like banana bread or banana muffins using healthy ingredients.
9. Lemon and orange
Nutrients: Lemons and oranges have Vitamin C, which increases iron absorption and reduces your risk of anemia during pregnancy. Vitamin C is also known to boost your immunity. It has a similar impact on your baby. However, avoid taking excessive amounts of Vitamin C, as it can upset your stomach.
How: Orange juice is an easy way to get a good dose of vitamin C for the day. Avoid the high-sugar varieties, and stick to homemade, freshly squeezed orange juice.
Nutrients: You should eat a variety of vegetables. Keep your plate colorful to ensure you eat a variety of them. Vegetables give you vitamins and minerals that also affect your baby’s tissue growth and development.
How: You can add vegetables into your salads, wraps, sandwiches, and even omelettes. Make sure you wash them well before using them.
Make sure to eat a balanced diet during your pregnancy, including all of these foods and more. You know what's best for you, so eat intuitively. You can also speak to your doctor if you feel doubtful about your meals and nutrition.