Pregnancy is hard, and no one will agree more than pregnant women worldwide. It is time and energy consuming, and all your resources will seem to be flushing. And it goes from hard to harder with each month that passes.
That being said, it is the ultimate intimate and deep experience any woman can have, and you have some allies to help you on your way. So let’s see why it is key to maintain a diet in pregnancy, and if possible, a bit afterwards.
Your insurance policy
We already said it is resources-consuming, and it is. You shouldn’t be eating for two, which you should already know by now to be a myth; but you should be responsible for two, and this is why you should keep in mind some context that will condition your diet in pregnancy (and challenge it too):
- Folic acid will be very much needed to help you get through your pregnancy;
- Your baby will eat out of your own reserves, no matter if you afford this paycheck or not;
- Your blood will start circulating at an increased speed and will raise in volume;
- Your iron will almost disappear from your body, so diet in pregnancy is a must;
- Your baby will grow from the amount of healthy fat and protein that you will be eating;
- You will feel fatigue and tiredness all the way, and you need to take care of that.
So let’s discuss some key-factors of your diet in pregnancy, shall we?
First off, you will need to adjust the amount of calories-intake. Depending on your basic metabolic rate, you will need to increase a bit your calorie-intake, function of the semester. In the first one, if you feel the urge, you can increase the intake by 100 calories; the second semester comes with greater needs, so as you can rise up to 300 per day. And the last semester, which will be the most challenging, can witness an increase of up to 500 calories per day. Now, that all depends on your level of exercise you do, on the type of job you perform, and if you are staying in bed for a couple of months or not.
Second of all, blood tests throughout your pregnancy are quite relevant. This means that you should pay attention to the highs and lows in your body, so as to compensate with proper adjustments to your diet in pregnancy and nutritional supplements. But this will require the attention of your doctors, so don’t neglect the periodic visits.
Third in line, if you did not have a very healthy diet before getting pregnant, this is the time to make amend. Diet in pregnancy requires a large amount of responsibility, as mentioned, so junk food should be exceptions, and not rules; sugar, coffee, alcohol are to be avoided, and processed foods are not a sensible option for you in this period.
Last but not least, let’s talk a bit about cravings during pregnancy. It is a well spread urban myth that pregnant ladies should indulge because the baby requires it. Let’s just say this; cravings come from the brain, not from the baby. If you crave for bread, it might just mean that you had one too many spoons of sugar in your tea, and your body will ultimately require some carbs immediately after. Or one hour after. If you are starving, that’s ok; you can eat, but stick to healthy food with large nutritional values. If you crave for something sweet, fruits are the best way to go. And if you do crave for something really unhealthy, you shouldn’t avoid it at all costs; but moderation may mean a great deal to you, after this episode.
It is important not to forget about your water intake, and try not to replace it with anything else, and keep away from fizzy beverages and way-too-much-processed drinks. They won’t help you and will become your enemy.
And don’t forget. Diet in pregnancy does not refer to losing some pounds. This is not the time to diet to stay thin. Forget this. This is not the time to skip meals. And it most certainly it is not all about you, and not all about your baby. Eating healthy and eating smart while sticking to your diet in pregnancy will assure you that you will not make extra-efforts afterwards to jump back in shape; it will mean a great deal for the baby’s development and it will make sure that you will not get health-conditions afterwards, like hormonal imbalances, heart disease, loss of hair, chipped nails, or inability to breastfeed your little one.
Now, that we focused on the Don’ts, let’s focus on the Dos.
The Dos in your diet in pregnancy
- Make a meal-schedule for each day and stick to it; you will need (believe us) your three meals of the day, and sometimes even snacks between them;
- Each meal of the day should have an intake of healthy proteins, vegetables, healthy carbohydrates for your fibres intake; your plate should be as colourful as possible, but in a healthy manner; if your diet in pregnancy, that doesn’t mean things have to stay dull;
- If your diet is lower than 1700 calories per day, it is ultimately impossible to extract everything that you need for you and your child;
- Low-fat is not an option of your diet in pregnancy; go for full-fat, for healthy fats, non-saturated ones; this will not affect your blood circulation and will not lead to unwanted fat deposits.
We have set things straight. Let’s move a little deeper to the necessary macronutrients of your diet in pregnancy and see how to assure your much-needed intake for this wonderful trip!
The three large categories of macros in your diet are proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Each one of them is necessary for your balance and helps your body build up your immune system. We’ll now talk about healthy sources for each macro to focus on during your diet in pregnancy:
- Proteins – they are important for both you and your baby; they build up muscles and are a growing factor; good sources of proteins are meat ; so go for not so fat and not too much processed, bio if possible – eggs, dairy, chicken, pork, veal, fish; try to avoid seafood, as it may contain too much mercury; go for healthy, and not slim; go for vegetal sources of proteins, such as nuts, lentils, peas, green peas;
- Carbohydrates – these are the source of energy, which will lack you during the 9-10 months you will be facing; good sources are cereals, vegetables, fruits, bread, pasta; we know that you might have avoided cereal all-together before your diet in pregnancy, but you no longer have this luxury; carbs will also assure the good function of your digestion, so do not skip these;
- Fats – we know you thought these were your arch-enemies; no longer; they will help you and your child to build up the immune system, and your little one will build up the baby fat he needs to regulate his body temperature when he arrives; good sources of fats are dairy (go for full-fat, or normal, in milk, cheese, yoghurt, butter); go for fish, nuts, avocado, seeds.
But if you want to properly diet in pregnancy, go for micronutrients as well. These are very-well-kept in vegetables and fruits and will be a significant aid, both to avoid diseases, have healthy digestion and stay away from unnecessary extra-pounds.
Keep an extra-look for sources of folic acid, or vitamin B9; these are greens – spinach, salads, cabbage, asparagus, broccoli, citrus, peas and lentils, nuts, seeds and cauliflower. Also, pay attention to sources of iron: again, spinach, but liver too, kiwi, whole grains, tofu and eggs. Vitamin C will also come in handy, so citrus and blueberry, parsley will give aid in this sector.
Now, if and when you will be really hungry in the middle of the night, and that usually happens, try to go for a tuna can, a banana or yoghurt. This will help you to stick to your diet in pregnancy (which, as you see, is not exactly a diet, but more an awareness style of eating).
Bottom lines of your diet in pregnancy
Your diet in pregnancy is not about restrictions. It will allow you to eat whatever you want, and whenever you want. But it is about moderation and diversity. Eat all that is necessary, and sometimes splurge a bit and go for the unnecessary. But common sense and hunger will always help you get back on your path. Keeping a diet in pregnancy is not going to be hard; more to it, your diet will help bounce back, give you extra-energy when you need it, help you comfort eat (some strawberries, we hope), when you are down, and keep you healthy as to be able to cope with what’s coming. But remember to stick to it after delivery. So stay safe and happy!