Getting your diet right for pregnancy is more about what you eat than about how much. Limit junk food, as it has lots of calories with few or no nutrients.
Eat a variety of foods from these different food groups each day:
- Milk and dairy products: Skimmed milk, yoghurt/curd, buttermilk (chhaach), cottage cheese (paneer). These foods are high in calcium, protein and Vitamin B-12.
- Cereals, whole grains, dals, pulses and nuts: These are good sources of protein if you do not eat meat. Vegetarians need about 45 grams of nuts and 2/3 of a cup of legumes for protein each day. One egg, 14 grams of nuts, or ¼ cup of legumes is considered equivalent to roughly 28 grams of meat, poultry, or fish.
- Vegetables and fruits: These provide vitamins, minerals and fibre and are a rich source of folic acid. Dry fruits are also recommended.
- Fluids: Drink lots of fluids, especially water and fresh fruit juices.
Even though everyone will advise you to eat for two, the average woman does not need any extra calories during the first six months of pregnancy. Your body actually becomes more efficient at extracting the required energy and nutrients from your diet when you’re expecting a baby.
Although the latest research suggests that a pregnant mum only needs 200 extra calories a day in her last trimester, most doctors recommend 300 extra calories a day in the second and third trimesters.
However, there are some foods that you’ll have to steer clear of during pregnancy because they could be unsafe for your baby:
- Unpasteurised milk (buffalo or cow’s milk)and dairy products made with unpasteurised milk aren’t safe during pregnancy.
- Fats and oils: Ghee, butter, coconut milk and oil are high in saturated fats, which are not very healthy. Hydrogenated vanaspati oil and ghee is high in trans fats, which are as bad for you as saturated fats.
- Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, and eggs
- Alcoholic drinks and caffeine.
So concentrate on eating a healthy diet of plenty of starchy carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, reasonable amounts of protein, milk and dairy foods, and just a little in the way of fats and sugars.
You also don’t have to give up all your favourite foods just because you’re pregnant.
So as far as snacks are concerned, try a banana or any other fruit or badaam / Kesar milk instead of a jalebi dripping with calories.
And, don’t feel guilty if you fancy the occasional chocolate or gulab jamun. Enjoy every bite!
Note: With inputs from Dr. Sushma Noheria and Dr. Aarti Bhardwaj, practising gynaecologists at Noheria Nursing Home, Sector 8, Panchkula. They can be reached here for guidance.