It is a known truth that women who are planning to have a child and those who are already pregnant should eat a nutritious food to ensure their health and well being and that of their baby’s. However, because the world is getting smaller and smaller every day, a woman has become exposed to a wide variety of foods and dishes which research has shown can have a detrimental effect on their pregnancy.
If you are keen on observing healthy nutrition during your pregnancy, let us take a look at the foods that you should eat and those that you should avoid.
Foods That You Should Eat
There are a number of power foods that you should include in your diet during your pregnancy. These power foods include:
1) Lean meats = an excellent source of proteins and amino acids, which are the building blocks of the cells of both the mother and the baby. It is also rich in iron, which is essential in the production of hemoglobin (the protein that delivers oxygen to every cell in the body). Just make sure that the meat is thorough cooked, making that there is no pink meat remaining.
2) Beans and lentils = also a source of proteins and amino acids, beans and lentils are a good option for pregnant vegetarians and vegans who prefer to get their proteins from a plant source
3) Broccoli = rich in calcium, antioxidants and folate (necessary to prevent birth defects in the brain and spinal cord of your baby)
4) Low fat or Non-fat milk = rich in calcium, it is necessary in the strengthening of the bones of the mother while pregnant and in the building of the skeletal system in the baby
5) Bananas = Provides potassium and other vitamins and minerals that can prevent pregnancy fatigue. They are also a welcome light snack for women suffering from morning sickness.
6) Soft cheeses made from Pasteurized Milk = Rich in calcium and protein. It must be emphasized that you should check the label carefully that the cheese is indeed made from pasteurized milk, thus guaranteeing its safety for consumption. These pasteurized soft cheeses include cheddar, mozzarella, Brie, Gorgonzola and Feta.
7) Leafy green vegetables = Leafy green veggies like spinach are rich in iron and folate. For those women who suffer from lactose intolerance, turnips and kale are a great alternative source for calcium.
8) Eggs = a great alternative source of protein for women who are vegetarians/vegans or have developed a strong distaste for meat during their pregnancy. Eggs should be cooked thoroughly with the yolk and white completely solid.
9) Oatmeal and Fortified cereals = they are rich in complex carbohydrates which provide longer, sustained energy for a pregnant woman. The oat bran in oatmeal helps to maintain low cholesterol levels. The high fiber content also promotes the rapid elimination of wastes from both the mother and the baby. Fortified brands may contain folic acid or folate, which is needed to prevent birth defects in the baby.
10) Fortified whole-grain bread = Aside from its high fiber content, fortified whole-grain bread is rich in iron and zinc, which helps in supporting cell division and tissue growth in your baby.
11) Oranges and other citrus fruits = They are rich in fiber, folate, and Vitamin C, which is needed to fight infection in the mother and is necessary in the production of the structural protein collagen that is a vital component in the baby’s bones, cartilage, tendons and skin.
12) Nuts and nut butters = contains unsaturated fats which are healthy for both the mother and baby’s hearts. Exception is peanuts in pregnant women who are allergic to them.
13) Soy foods = Tofu and other soy foods are the preferred source of protein among vegetarians and vegans.
14) Dried fruits = can help satisfy the craving for sweet foods. Dried cranberries can also help prevent urinary tract infection. Other great choices are dried cherries and dried apricots.
Additional Note for Fruits and Vegetables: Make sure that you wash the surface of the fruits and vegetables thoroughly in order to get rid of harmful bacteria, like E. coli and salmonella, and pesticides and toxins which may have been sprayed on it.
Foods That You Should Avoid
1) Processed Sugar and sugary foods = it can promote excessive weight gain in a pregnant woman and also put her at increased risk of developing gestational diabetes. You need not give up eating something sweet. A healthier alternative is the natural sugar contained in fruits.
2) Raw and soft boiled eggs = they may contain salmonella, which may lead to a serious infection characterized by diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Other foods that may be contaminated with this bacterium include homemade eggnog, raw cookie dough, and Caesar salad dressing made in restaurants.
3) Unpasteurized juice = Juice that hasn’t undergone the process of pasteurization which destroys toxins and kills bacteria should not be consumed. These juices may contain contaminants which may prove harmful to the baby.
4) Sushi = It may contain the larvae of parasitic worm Anisakidae which may cause food poisoning. Depending upon the fish it is made out of, sushi may also contain mercury, which can damage the baby’s developing nervous system.
5) Some Fish Varieties = although fish is a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, large, deep sea fish may have accumulated methyl-mercury inside their bodies which has a detrimental effect on the baby’s nervous system. Fish that should be avoided include shark, swordfish, tile fish, King Mackerel, and marlin. Trace amounts of mercury have been found in catfish, salmon, shrimp, Pollock and canned light tuna, but the FDA advises that you should only eat around 12 ounces of these types of fish a week (or the equivalent of two average meals).
6) Unpasteurized, veined soft cheeses = Unpasteurized and/or blue veined cheeses may contain the bacteria listeria, which may cause miscarriage, stillbirth and serious illnesses in newborns. Examples of cheeses that you should avoid are camembert, Mexican quezo blanco, and stilton. Brie and feta were once included in the cheeses to avoid, but there are safe, pasteurized varieties. Again, just make sure you check the label.
7) Deli Meats and Meat/Vegetable Pates = Like soft cheeses, deli meats and pates may be contaminated with listeria. Deli meats should be cooked thoroughly. You will know it’s safe to eat if it’s steaming hot.
8) Caffeine = excessive intake of caffeine has been implicated in miscarriages. If you cannot avoid drinking coffee, limit your intake to just one cup per day.
9) Alcohol = while some doctors recommend drinking a small quantity of wine or other alcoholic beverage, to err on caution, it is best to avoid it completely while pregnant as it may cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (characterized by mental retardation and birth defects)