The ability to create life and give birth is one of the greatest miracles of nature. Pregnancy can be tough; don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. It is uncomfortable and comes with a long list of do’s and don’ts. However, it is also one of the most wonderful experiences a woman can go through.
A common piece of advice expecting moms get in India is that they should be ‘eat for too’. This all along with plenty of advice about topping their food with ghee, eating gond ke laddoo and a lot of such traditions confuse the new-age woman. Given that there is a lot of wisdom hidden in old traditions and old-wives tales. However, with so much information available on your fingertips, it is a very good idea to read more and gather professional advice.
I have forever been very conscious of my dietary habits. After years of eating healthy diet, I was worried about letting go and making ill-informed dietary choices when I got pregnant. However, it was also very important to me that I got all necessary nutrition for my own as well as my baby’s health. A baby’s single source of nutrition in the womb is from the mother, thus it is essential to eat healthy and ensure that a recommended diet plan is followed.
Ideal Diet Plan for Pregnancy
How Much Should You Eat?
‘Eat for too’ – this is maybe one of the most damaging inputs you can get. No, you do not need to eat for two, for the better part of your pregnancy. The further ‘person’ you’re eating for, is a tiny foetus, the size of a peanut in the first trimester.
• An normal woman leading a sedentary life requires around 1900 calories per day.
• In the first trimester of pregnancy, you do not need any additional calories. Instead, you should make a conscious effort to shift your dietary habits such that your whole calorific intake ensures you get all essential nutrients required in this critical phase.
• In the 2nd term, you need 350-400 additional calories per day.
• The third term requires your intake to be 500 calories over your normal diet.
What should you eat in Pregnancy?
It is critical that these additional calories do not come in the form of junk food and non-nutritious foods. Many people think of pregnancy as a free pass to indulge them and load up on sinful and calorie-laden foods. That large bar of chocolate or burger is not really helping you send nutrition to your baby. It is just helping you gain weight and inches, not the foetus. Make healthy food choices; eat fruits, vegetables, dairy products, etc.
Essential Nutritional Requirements
There are four things that are very important and must be included in your daily diet:
• Folic Acid –Folic acid is essential for preventing brain defects in the baby and it also helps maintain the placenta. Suggested allowances are Folate 500µg/day. Greatest sources include Amaranth leaves, ambat chukka, and mint and spinach dals like Bengal gram, black gram, green gram and red gram.
• Calcium – The baby’s bones and teeth formation necessary calcium. If your diet lacks calcium, the body will automatically take this mineral from your own bones for the baby. One must ensure that a calcium-rich diet is followed. Calcium is necessary for maintaining the health of mother’s bones and to ensure proper bone and teeth development of the baby. Recommended dietary intake for calcium is 1250mg/day. Milk products are the best source of bio available calcium. A number of other foods rich in calcium are ragi, Bengal gram, and whole dals like horse gram, rajma, and soya bean. Green leafy vegetables, oil seeds and fish are some additional sources of calcium.
• Iron – Studies have stated that as high as 59% of Indian women are anemic. During pregnancy, it is important to keep an eye on your HB count and ensure that you get sufficient iron through your diet. Both mother and child require iron to meet the needs of red blood cell formation. The Suggested allowance for iron intake is 35mg /day. Green leafy vegetables are the best sources of Iron. Something as easy as a mint and coriander chutney can help meet your needs. The richest sources are amaranth, Bengal gram leaves and cauliflower greens. Vitamin C helps iron absorption in the body.
If all this sounds like a mammoth task, relax. The way you can achieve these goals is by eating a variety of foods, using seasonal variations to guide you along. Eating a balanced meal is the best way to receive nutrients. These should be taken only under medical care.