A New Diet for Your New Pregnancy
Your unborn child is precious and you’ll want to do everything you can to protect it right now. Therefore, looking after yourself is crucial, as is being aware of the risks. Can you believe the fact that what you eat during pregnancy affects the health of not only you and your kids but also your grandkids?1 So, a huge part of planning a safe pregnancy involves paying close attention to your diet. But it can get confusing sometimes.
Remember the time when you told your friends and family about your pregnancy? One thing that came free with all the good wishes was advice. You’ll hear about a lot of dos and don’ts around food during pregnancy. Some of them are a sure thing, others are educated guesses, while some can get controversial. But one thing nearly everyone can agree on is to err on the side of caution.
In this blog, we'll look at the top six things that you need to change in your diet, now that you’re pregnant:
Change 1: Complicate Your Carbs
Everybody knows that carbs form the base of all our meals. Now, your body only needs an extra 300 calories per day to back your body changes during your pregnancy. 2And only during your second and third trimesters. That’s just like one cup of cereal or a plate of chicken salad.
So why don’t we stay away from filling ourselves with empty calories and eat some healthy nutritional food instead? Take out the simple carbs like white bread and white rice and replace them with complex carbs like brown bread and dried beans and peas. Small tweaks can take you a long way. If you love eating baked potatoes, steam or bake them in their skins. Love yourself some Teh Tarik? Order for some Teh O instead. Baby steps.
Change 2: Focus on Folic Acid
Folic acid aka Vitamin B9 is very important. It helps you make new cells for you and your baby's body3. It also helps you to make red blood cells. You will lose a lot of blood during delivery so it's very important to take folic acid. They don’t call it the powerhouse nutrient for nothing!
Your low folic acid intake can damage your child’s central nervous system4. That's when most children get neural tube defects (birth defects of the brain, spine, or spinal cord). In severe cases some children are even paralyzed at birth.
Dark leafy vegetables are very high in folic acid. Just one large bowl of spinach, collard greens, kale, or romaine lettuce every day should do the trick! If you get bored easily, you can always switch it up with some asparagus, broccoli or a big glass of orange juice instead.
Change 3: Don’t Eat Raw Food5
Say bye, bye to sushi for now. If you eat raw fish or uncooked meat during pregnancy, you are increasing your chances of getting infected with Toxoplasmosis. This is a rare disease that can be passed on from the mother to the child and can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or damage to its eyes. So, choose to eat fried or hard-boiled eggs instead of half-boiled eggs, a well-done steak instead of a rare one, well...you get the drift.
Change 4: You Really Need DHA6
If you really are craving Japanese food, go for some smoked salmon or grilled fish. In fact, you are encouraged to eat cooked deep-sea fishes that are high in Omega 3 and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
In the recent years, there’s a lot of talk about including DHA in your diet when you’re pregnant and for good reason7. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil, which is an essential nutrient for women — especially during pregnancy. It’s very important to build your baby's brain, nervous system, and eyes. So, eat up deep-sea fishes like tuna, mackerel, herring and sardine. Although try to eat fresh tuna and sardine, and not the canned ones.
Change 5: And of course, Say No to Alcohol8
Alcohol slows down your central nervous system. Not just yours, your developing baby’s too. Children born to alcoholic moms have low birth weight and suffer with learning disabilities and emotional problems as they grow up.
Is two drinks a week OK? One drink a day? The fact is, no one knows if there's an amount of alcohol that's perfectly safe and, if there is, what that right amount is. What’s safe is to save up the wine to toast the baby's birthday.
Change 6: You Can’t Skip Meals Anymore9
Are you feeling nauseous every morning? Maybe your morning sickness doesn’t let you eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. On some days, you may find that the only foods you can tolerate are foods heavy in starch or carbohydrates. If all you feel like eating are potatoes, bread, and pasta today, just go for it. Naturally, you may start wondering if you are getting enough nutrition for the two of you. But it’s more important that you keep your tummy full rather than starve.
Not skipping meals can take a bit of planning. Schedule food breaks as alarms on your phone to make sure you have time to eat. Keep healthy grab-and-go options like dried fruit and nuts in your desk drawer. Your baby will thank you.
“Healthy bodies make healthy little ones, so you have nothing to lose!”
—Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting
I know that the news of my little son’s arrival will bring with itself more little changes like these in all corners of my life and I’m learning to enjoy them. And yet, I don’t forget to enjoy my food, listen closely to my body, and, if some craving strikes, I still go ahead and have some ice cream and pickles! I am looking forward to a joyous time ahead taking one safe step after another towards motherhood with my husband.
2http://nutrition.moh.gov.my/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/FA-Buku-RNI.pdfRecommended Nutrient Intakes for Malaysia, 2017
3http://reproduct-endo.com/article/view/101106. Folic Acid Supplementation and Pregnancy: More Than Just Neural Tube Defect Prevention, (Greenberg, Bell, Guan, & Yu, 2017)
4https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF03391603Folic Acid and Vitamin B12 Fortification of Flour: A Global Basic Food Security Requirement, (Oakley & Tulchinsky, 2010)
5http://www.cfp.ca/content/56/4/341.fullFood-borne illnesses during pregnancy (Einarson, Tam, Erebara, & Koren, 2010)
6http://nutrition.moh.gov.my/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/FA-Buku-RNI.pdfRecommended Nutrient Intakes for Malaysia, 2017
7http://mdpi.com/1422-0067/15/5/8024Docosahexaenoic Acid Supplementation during Pregnancy: A Potential Tool to Prevent Membrane Rupture and Preterm Labor (Pietrantoni, et al., 2014)
8https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/159/2/155/166563Alcohol Consumption during Pregnancy and the Risk of Preterm Delivery (Albertsen, Andersen, Olsen, & Grønbæk, 2004)
9https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/71/5/1218S/4729320Physiology of pregnancy and nutrient metabolism (King, 2000)
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