Dear mum-to-be, settle into a comfortable seat for this quick read. You’re eating for two now and the food you eat nourishes you as well as your little one. As an expectant mother, now is the best time to put your nutrition into high gear.
With a few simple pointers, this could turn out to be the most nutritive time of your life. If you haven’t given it much thought before, don’t worry—we have you covered.
The basic idea is this simple: for 9 months, what you eat and drink is what your baby eats and drinks. How well your little one grows in the womb is partly thanks to the food you eat. Refer to this pregnancy diet, which is of great benefit, both right now as well as in the long-term. You can also use the guide below as a ready reckoner to get quality nutrition:
1. Be an iron lady
Iron is your best friend now. It helps create the red blood cells that carry oxygen to your body, and therefore your baby’s body.
Iron is of two kinds—the first comes from animal sources (i.e., haem iron), the second comes from plants. Haem iron is better, but plant food can’t be ignored either, so a balance is essential.
The iron-rich foods are red meat, eggs, chicken and cereals.
Vegetarian or vegan mothers—please consider taking iron supplements, and if you do, increase fibre and fluid intake to prevent the constipation caused by iron. Supplementation is necessary because plant sources could fall short of the requirement.
Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, but Vitamin C can’t be stored—which means you need a daily dose of the citruses—oranges, guavas, papayas, kiwis, or lemons—as well as vegetables.
2. Pack on the proteins
Your little one’s body, and yours, is made entirely of proteins. So, proteins are a must for the growth of bones, muscles, and organs.
Meat and fish, which are iron-rich, are also protein-rich. Get eggs, pulses and legumes, nuts, milk and dairy, brown rice, and beans.
Protein is great for delaying hunger pangs because it takes longer to digest. Take 3–4 servings of protein a day for your full-term.
3. Carb up
Carbs, as carbohydrates are known, are of two types.
The first type is complex carbs.
Complex carbs get digested slower, and so are better for you and the baby. Slower digestion means that they maintain a steady level of sugar, and therefore, insulin, in the blood. Complex carbs come from food made from unrefined sources—whole meal bread, cereals, brown rice, whole grain, potatoes, beans, oats, and corn.
The second type is simple carbs.
Don’t hate us—but simple carbs are probably what you crave...but also what you should avoid. They are found in sweets, puffs, biscuits, etc—i.e., foods made from refined materials like polished grains (maida), white sugar, commonly called “junk food”. They give a burst of energy but that burst comes at a big cost; blood insulin also shoots up, and when done, it leaves you feeling low and dull. But worst of all—simple carbs leave you craving more simple carbs.
4. Befriend folic acid
The magic act that folic acid does is to make new cells from old ones. It helps your baby grow in size, so it is a crucial nutrient.
Folic acid is found in green leafy vegetables, liver, yeast extract, eggs, nuts, wholegrain cereals and oranges.
A deficiency of folic acid can cause anaemia (i.e., a lack of blood cells)
5. Cavort with calcium
Dear mum, your baby’s bones and teeth rely on your calcium intake. For the full-term, aim to consume 1000 mg of calcium a day, which is 2–4 servings of milk, for example.
Eating right, though essential for your growing baby, isn’t the easiest thing to do, 24x7. So go ahead and pamper yourself to the occasional treat. A piece of cake, biscuits, or a bowl of ice-cream is your short break from behaving responsibly. Try to stick to homemade treats, watch how much you pile on your plate, eat slowly and savour your break.