When I was pregnant, I did not have even a day of morning sickness or nausea usually associated with pregnancy. In fact, I had an insatiable hunger for food, especially for chicken and milk. I remember getting up at 2 in the morning, hungry for dosa. My husband and my parents indulged my food cravings lest the baby was born with a puffed up mouth! (old wives tale, of course, but I cashed on it shamelessly). Nevertheless, my mother was careful about making sure I did not go overboard and monitored my menu throughout my term, resulting in permissible weight gain on account of which I had no problem in getting my old shape back after childbirth.
Women from the old school of thought believe that a pregnant woman should eat for two as the baby needed extra nourishment. The new school of thought maintains that eating for two does more harm than good, as extra calories did nothing but pile on excessive pounds all around your body that is very hard to shed after childbirth, as well as risk the possibility of a complicated delivery.
The old school of thought is the most common and dangerous myth about pregnancy because unhealthy eating habits and excess weight gain exposed you to the dangers of high blood pressure and gestational diabetes.
If you are having a healthy weight, following a healthy nutritious diet coupled with light exercises 2 or 3 times a week, you require only around 300 calories more, in a day. Ideally, your weight gain at the end of your term should be only about 30 to 35 pounds more than your pre-pregnancy weight. The normal weight of a new born baby is usually between 7 to 9 pounds. So where does all the rest of the pounds go. Well, it all adds up in the weight of uterus, amniotic fluid, placenta, breast growth, increased blood and fats, proteins and minerals lining the uterus. So if your weight gain exceeds 35 pounds, you know where they could be stored.
Here are a few useful tips to ensure maximum nutrition and health during pregnancy.
I did not follow any food pyramid although I knew I needed to have adequate amount of different colored and textured veggies, fruits, chicken, nuts, milk and so on. If you prefer, you can plan your menu daily, ensuring that it met your daily requirement of carbs, proteins, vitamins, healthy fats, minerals and fiber.
Substitute sugary treats, red meats, fried and fatty foods with healthy foods like salad veggies, nuts, yogurt, milk, boiled eggs, skinned chicken and fiber rich foods.
Include enough fiber in your diet to avoid constipation. Change in hormonal levels may cause constipation, so consume plenty of cereals, whole grains and whole wheat breads.
Drinking plenty of water to keep your body hydrated is of paramount importance. Drinking fresh fruit or veggie juices is also excellent and will curb your sugar cravings.
Take extra calcium through supplements, not only for your baby’s strong teeth and bones but your own too because if you don’t, the baby will draw calcium from your reserves, resulting in weakening of your teeth and bones as well. Ideally you should consume around 1,500 mg of calcium daily.
Snacking on adequate carbohydrates is necessary for adequate glucose supply to your baby. Cheese, nuts, dill seeds, sunflower seeds, yogurt and hard boiled eggs are good sources of carbs.
Eat foods that are in their natural state as far as possible like whole grain cereals, whole wheat breads and fresh fruits as opposed to canned fruits.
Healthy eating and adequate exercises will keep you and your baby safe and healthy. Whenever you feel like going overboard, remind yourself that you are eating more for your baby and not an adult!