With a baby on board, you need to take care of your nutrition more than ever. And no, that old wives’ tale of eating for two really isn't true. Pregnancy isn’t a license to eat more but is certainly a reason to eat better.
Here are some foods you should add to your weekly shopping list.
Fruit and Vegetables
The vitamins and minerals not to mention the fiber you get from fresh fruits and vegetables make it essential to have your ‘5 a day’(5 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables). Add veggies like carrots and beans to your breakfast idlis/upma, whizz up fruit and veg smoothies and juices between meals, have a healthy serving of both sabzi and salad at lunch and dinner, always have grilled veg or stir fry or steamed veggies on the side with any western/Chinese/international meals. Here’s a snapshot of just some of the goodness from fruit and vegetables:
- Green leafy vegetables contain folic acid, vitamin A, and iron.
- Berries are a great source of folate, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber.
- Citrus fruit and grapes for vitamin C.
- Bananas for vitamin B6 and potassium.
- Broccoli for calcium, folate, vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber.
- Healthy Proteins Like Daal, Eggs, Nuts, Chicken, Fish
Protein is essential for the healthy growth and development of the baby, so be sure to get your daily dose. Daal like lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans(rajma), and black-eyed peas(lobia) pack a protein-packed punch. Have some paneer, tofu, or eggs (properly cooked) if you like. For non-vegetarians, lean meat like chicken, fully cooked fish or seafood serve as good source of protein. Nuts and nut butters are also a way to get your protein dose.
If you’re still tucking into maida-laden foods, it’s time to swap it for multigrain atta. Whether it is pasta, bread, or rotis, stick to the whole grain options available. Some enriched wholegrains come with added folic acid and iron, both vital during pregnancy. Even porridges and upmas can be made with wholegrain versions like millet or barley - think ragi and dalia. They’re flavoursome and packed with nutrition and fiber.
Unless you’ve been advised not to have dairy for other health reasons, you can enjoy some yogurt, milk, paneer, and a little cheese in your diet. These are rich sources of calcium that’s a building block for the baby’s bones and teeth. Be mindful of the fat they contain and stick within your daily limits.
Healthy Carbs from Cereals, Rice, Starchy Foods
If you’ve been carb-cutting, this isn’t the time. You’ll need all the energy you can get to fuel your body as it works hard to grow a new life. Try and stick to complex carbohydrates from wholegrains, brown rice, and starchy veg like yams, potatoes (leave the skin on for more nutrients and fiber) and sweet potatoes.
Fill in the Blanks
You’ve probably had a conversation with your doctor about nutrition during pregnancy and possibly been tested for your Haemoglobin levels and possible Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D levels, among other things. If you haven’t, do it now.
Your doctor will recommend any additional nutrients you might require based on your medical history, health conditions, and diet. You can rope in a nutritionist who works with pregnant women to help plan your meals if it seems too time-consuming to do it on your own.
Pregnancy is a great opportunity to look after yourself, eat right, and become a healthier version of yourself. Your motivation is probably at its best right now, so go ahead and make the most of it!
Learn more about healthy eating and read about other women’s pregnancy journeys right here.