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Healthy Eating During Pregnancy!

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Priyanka Singh 96% (135 ratings)
MBBS, MS - Obs and Gynae, MRCOG(London), DNB, Fellowship In Uro Gynaecology
Gynaecologist, Mumbai  •  13 years experience
Healthy Eating During Pregnancy!

Keeping healthy during pregnancy depends on both the amount and the type of food you eat while planning pregnancy and during your pregnancy. Some foods are best avoided as they may contain substances that may affect the baby’s development.

To eat healthy, you should aim to do the following:

  1. Base your meals on starchy foods such as potatoes, bread, rice and pasta, choosing wholegrain if possible. These foods are satisfying without containing too many calories.
  2. Eat at least five portions of different fruit and vegetables every day.
  3. Eat a low-fat diet. Eat as little fried food as possible and avoid drinks that are high in added sugars, and other foods such as sweets, cakes and biscuits that have a high fat or sugar content.
  4. Eat fibre-rich foods such as oats, beans, lentils, grains and seeds, as well as wholegrain bread, brown rice and wholemeal pasta. Fibre helps to prevent constipation and also helps to reduce blood glucose and cholesterol.
  5. Eat some protein every day; choose lean meat. Lentils, eggs, nuts, milk cheese, beans and tofu are also good sources of protein.
  6. Eat dairy foods for calcium but choose low-fat varieties such as skimmed milk or low-fat yogurt.
  7. Watch the portion size of your meals and snacks. Do not ‘eat for two’.
  8. Always eat breakfast.
  9. Limit your caffeine intake to 200 milligrams (mg) per day, for example, two mugs of instant coffee. Be aware that other drinks such as tea and energy drinks also contain caffeine.

Most women do not need any extra calories during the first six months of pregnancy. It is only in the last 12 weeks that they need to eat a little more, and then only an extra 200 calories a day, which is roughly the same as two slices of bread.

Healthy weight:

You can find out your healthy weight from your BMI (body mass index). This is a measure of your weight in relation to your height. A healthy BMI is above 18.5 but below 25. Being overweight or underweight carries risks for you and your baby. Trying to lose weight by dieting during pregnancy is not recommended as it may harm your baby. For women with a normal BMI, the ideal weight gain in pregnancy should be between 11.5-16 Kgs. Underweight women should gain 12.5-18 Kg and overweight women may need to gain only 7- 11.5 Kg.

Vitamins and minerals:

Vitamins and minerals play an important role in the baby’s development. During pregnancy, there is increased requirement of folic acid, iron and calcium. Taking prenatal supplements can ensure that you are getting adequate amounts.

Is it safe to eat fish in pregnancy?

In general, eating fish is a healthy option during pregnancy, but eat no more than two portions of oily fish, such as mackerel or salmon, a week. This is because too much of a substance found in oily fish (mercury) can be harmful to an unborn baby’s development. Also, pregnant women should not eat more than two fresh tuna steaks or four medium-sized cans of tuna a week, and should avoid eating shark and swordfish.

Decreasing the risk of infection from food:

Contaminated food can cause infection which can harm your unborn baby. The following can help to reduce the risk:

  1. Drink only pasteurised or UHT milk
  2. Avoid eating ripened soft cheese but hard cheese is fine
  3. Avoid eating undercooked food
  4. Wash all fruit and vegetables, including ready-prepared salads
  5. Cook raw meats and ready-prepared chilled meats thoroughly
  6. Wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly after gardening or handling soil
In case you have a concern or query you can always consult a specialist & get answers to your questions!
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