As beings, women have been blessed with the greatest gift on earth- to create and nurture a new life. Pregnancy is a life-altering journey that requires special attention because you are not just attending to your body and mind, but also a budding life inside. Pregnancy is a phase when women go through numerous physical and hormonal journeys. Hence, a thorough focus is required for your diet for the well-being of both you and your baby. Choosing the perfect pregnancy meal plan can ensure a healthy pregnancy, providing essential nutrients for growth and development. Following are the 10 foods to eat while pregnant:
Leafy Greens: A Powerhouse of Nutrients
“Eat your greens!” is what our elders have been reminding us since we were children. Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, fenugreek, or green peas are rich in iron, calcium and folate which are usually found in deficit in newborn babies because of the urban lifestyle. These nutrients play a crucial role in preventing birth defects, producing enriched blood, enhancing vision and skin health, and you and your child’s healthy immune system.
Lean Proteins: Building Blocks for You and Your Baby
Lean protein comes from sources such as beans, lentils, tofu, plain yoghurt, fish and poultry. Incorporating lean protein sources into your diet will lead to a stronger built body. Protein is essential for the development of your baby's organs, muscles, and tissues. These proteins help in a good memory, good heart and good metabolism.
Whole Grains: Fueling Your Energy Needs
We need energy to operate. Especially when you have a life growing inside, you need to consume energy-inducing foods for two bodies. Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats provide complex carbohydrates, fibre, and essential nutrients. Constipation is a very common problem women face during pregnancy and whole grains help with that. They also help in maintaining cholesterol level, healthy weight and provide fibre.
Fruits Rich in Vitamins and Antioxidants
Pregnancy cravings are no secret to anyone. You can very well be craving for something really sweet but it might not be the right food to eat for you. At such times, fruits are the perfect saviours for you. Mixed berries, apples, oranges, and bananas are the perfect source of antioxidants and vitamins. They lead to a healthy gut, healthy skin and provide natural sweetness without the risk of getting diabetes.
Dairy for Calcium and Vitamin D
As Indians, dairy products form the centre of our meals. Whether it is our parathas with curd for breakfast, our buttermilk and chaas at lunch, or paneer for dinner. Without these dairy products, our food looks incomplete. Along with being so versatile, dairy products are also excellent sources of calcium and vitamin D. Calcium and these nutrients are important for you and your baby’s healthy bones and teeth. It is advised to opt for low-fat dairy products or dairy alternatives in some cases during pregnancy.
Healthy Fats: Omega-3s for Brain Development
Omega-3 fatty acids are called ‘healthy fats’ that support you and your baby’s heart health and eyes. Our bodies do not generate enough healthy fats, hence our major source of getting them is from the food we consume. The rich sources of Omega-3s are salmon, tuna, and certain types of fishes. If you're not a fish-eater, there are some plant based alternatives like walnuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds.
Legumes: Plant-Based Protein and Fiber
Plant-based diet has seen a significant following in the recent past due to its health benefits and for being environmentally friendly. Legumes are the plant-based, nutritious seeds which include beans, lentils, and chickpeas. They are surprisingly nutritious- rich in fibre, protein, carbohydrates, iron, copper, magnesium, zinc and vitamin B. They contain saturated fat by nature and since they are plant-based, hence they are cholesterol free as well. Legumes should be a part of your healthy eating pattern during pregnancy.
Colourful Vegetables: A Variety of Nutrients
Life is colourful and so should be our plate. Each colour stands as a source of a unique vitamin or mineral. Include colourful food items in your pregnancy diet like red or yellow bell peppers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, green vegetables, brinjal, purple yam, kale etc because they will form a balanced meal with multifold health benefits for you and your baby.
Eggs: Versatile and Nutrient-Rich
Eggs are one of the most versatile food products which can become a part of your pregnancy diet plan in many ways. To add on to its benefits, eggs are packed with nutrients, provide protein, choline, and vitamin B12 for a healthy brain. Choline too is crucial for brain development and helps in a healthy memory, mood and muscle control.
Hydration: Water and Pregnancy
Staying hydrated is the key. Water intake is important for us anyway. But during pregnancy, it becomes even more crucial for the mother to have enough litres of water. It helps avoid cramps, and in the formation of the placenta, and amniotic fluid. Water also helps in proper nutrient transportation in the body. You should consume at least 8 glasses of water a day, and for more ways to intake water, consider having fresh fruit juices, or incorporating herbal teas in your diet for some variety.
As you navigate this journey of immense evolution of pregnancy, many things will feel like changing around you and within you. For a happy and healthy pregnancy, your food choices should not become stress inducing for you. The 10 types of food discussed above contain a spectrum of nutrients, vitamins and health benefits for you to ensure a healthy child and a healthy body and healthy mind for you. Do consult with your dietician or doctor before making changes to the diet you consume. Develop a tailor-made diet for you from the foods discussed above that best suits your body. But most of all, do not forget to indulge in these moments and enjoy this time with nourishment for you and your child. Some days will be good, some will be tough, but your diet during pregnancy will get you through the tough days easily.