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Lifestyle

Healthy Eating for a Healthy Pregnancy

By Riham Shamseddine

Dietitian

The Right Bite Nutrition Centre

 

Great news! Pregnancy is one of the very beautiful stages a woman can experience. Her love starts the moment she gets a positive test. Taking care of our physical health is very essential during the 40 weeks of pregnancy. Paying attention to eating habits is very important, as bad eating habits start in the womb. Although many women would get worried about how much weight they will gain, the extra pounds are inevitable and are also an essential factor.

 

Every woman will gain weight differently, but too much weight gain is also unhealthy. As a general rule, women with a pre-pregnancy BMI (body mass index) between 18.5 and 25 (normal) should gain between 12.5 -18 kg. However, women who were already overweight before pregnancy should gain much less to avoid pregnancy related complications (hypertension and gestational diabetes) Your health care provider can decide on the best weight gain during those coming 40 weeks. Eating for two while pregnant is definitely a myth. In the first 3 months or first trimester, mothers to be shouldn’t consume more calories. From the second trimester onwards, 300 calories daily can be added on the total daily intake, or more depending on the recommendations of the health care provider.

 

Not only should we pay attention to the quantity of food we are consuming, but also to the quality itself. The additional daily intake should come from healthy extra snacks that consist of fresh fruits, raw and unsalted nuts, milk and dairy products (low fat yogurt or unsweetened fruit yogurt), or having a larger meal for breakfast and/or lunch. Also, as a pregnant lady, there are some food items and drinks that might place mother and baby at risk of food poisoning and congenital defects.

 

The items below are to be avoided throughout the 9 months:

 

• Raw/ uncooked/ undercooked meats, poultry and fish (sushi)

• Fish rich in mercury: shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish

• Oysters, clams and mussels

• Raw eggs and items made from raw eggs (like mayonnaise, tiramisu …)

• Deli meats/cold cuts (mortadella, salami, pepperoni, turkey…)

• Soft and unpasteurized cheeses such as brie, Roquefort, gorgonzola

• Unpasteurized milk and dairy products

• Liver or liver products

• Vegetables and fruits that are not washed properly

• Artificial sweeteners

• Alcohol

• Caffeine and some herbal teas

 

Right Bite top general recommendations for mothers to be:

 

• Eat small and frequent meals especially if the mother to be is suffering from morning sickness and/or heartburn

• Consume food items rich in fiber (whole-fruits vegetables, whole-wheat products, brown rice/ pasta, whole grains such as oatmeal, quinoa, lentils) to avoid constipation

• Enjoy all the food groups (grains, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, milk, and dairy products) in moderation and in a balanced way

• Minimize the consumption of simple sugars (sweets, baked good, cakes, custard and chocolates)

• Drink plenty of water to hydrate your body properly and avoid dehydration and water retention

• Exercise regularly as per the physician instructions

 

Last, but not least, eating healthily and gaining the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy will make it much easier for the mothers to shed off the pregnancy weight and also avoid other complications.