The food a pregnant mother consumes is vital to her well-being and her baby’s healthy development. You should remember that indulging in a nutritious diet with the help of a pregnancy food chart can manage your food cravings and ensure a harmonious symphony of taste and well-being. Cravings for specific foods during pregnancy are common, with no scientifically proven reason behind them. You might crave spicy food during pregnancy, chocolate, or something unusual (1) (2).
Your developing baby gets essential nutrients from your body, so you should focus on consuming healthy foods for pregnancy. To ensure a healthy pregnancy, you need about 300 additional calories daily (3). The mother's body undergoes remarkable changes during pregnancy, requiring an increased intake of essential nutrients in food, such as vitamins and minerals. Folic acid consumption before and during early pregnancy aids in curing neural tube defects in the brain and spine. Iron, crucial for enhanced blood production and oxygen transport to the baby, is found in lean meats, cereals, vegetables, and nuts. Calcium, vital for baby's bone, teeth, and muscle development, demands a daily intake of 1,000 milligrams, obtainable from milk, cheese, and yogurt. Vitamin D, fostering baby's bone and teeth growth, is prevalent in fatty fish. Adequate fluid intake is indispensable, besides eating these foods during pregnancy (4).
Pregnancy brings a unique sensory journey where your favorite foods take a backseat, and you might crave those you rarely ate. Emotions usually trigger these reactions and are a common phenomenon. Food aversions, too, can happen during pregnancy, sometimes due to morning sickness between weeks 6 and 14 (5). Hormonal changes are a likely cause.
After discussing essential nutrients and pregnancy-friendly foods, let's focus on what foods should be avoided. For expectant mothers, it's best to steer clear of alcohol, unpasteurized dairy, day-old leftovers, high-mercury fish, and soft cheese. Mercury in fish can harm fetal brain development. Also, moderate your caffeine intake to prevent potential risks. Washing fruits and vegetables before consumption helps prevent bacterial infections such as salmonella and listeriosis (6) (7).
You can ensure a healthier pregnancy with fewer complications by embracing a balanced diet rich in vital nutrients. As your body undergoes remarkable changes and the miracle of life unfolds, the importance of a balanced, nutrient-filled diet becomes even clearer. Remember, your food choices impact the well-being of the beautiful life ahead.
Pick the right sour cream during pregnancy to avoid infectious diseases, including listeriosis.
Probiotics are not just for better digestion but also help prevent severe pregnancy complications.
Fermented tea may offer some benefits, but it might not be safe during pregnancy.
A healthy and savory option to add to your pregnancy meals with a dash of caution.
A refreshing beverage that can help limit caffeine intake and provide health benefits.
Excess Vitamin A from diet or supplements can negatively affect the growing baby.
This low-mercury, protein-rich seafood may be safely consumed if well cooked.
It is safe to eat when cooked, but be cautious of canned ones and read the label carefully.
Since undercooked fish and fish high in mercury are harmful, ensure the sushi is well-cooked.
Nutritious delights that can provide expecting moms with several health-promoting nutrients.
It may be a safer alternative to regular coffee but consume it in moderation.
Unusual cravings are common during this time. Make sure you are not overdoing it.
Although weight gain during pregnancy depends on several factors, including being overweight, underweight, or carrying multiple babies, most women gain approximately 25 to 35 pounds of weight on average. In the first trimester, there might be an average of two to four pounds, followed by a weekly increase of one pound (about 0.5 kilograms) throughout the remaining months (8).
Eating seafood is safe during pregnancy as it contains vital nutrients, such as omega-3, vitamins, and protein, which foster healthy fetal development. However, low-mercury seafood should be consumed in moderation of two to three servings per week or 8-12 ounces to avert any negative impact on the fetus (9).
Artificial sweeteners are considered safe during pregnancy when taken in low to moderate amounts. Although scientists are still studying the effects of sweeteners on mothers and the fetus, it is usually considered safe when taken in moderation (10).
Take healthy meals at regular intervals to help prevent hunger pangs. Choose healthy, low Glycaemic Index foods, including whole grains, baked beans, and fresh fruits, that will keep you fuller for longer. Drink plenty of water and keep yourself active. Brush your teeth regularly and stack your refrigerator with healthy snacks (1).
If you're experiencing nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, focus on staying hydrated by sipping fluids every 15 minutes. Opt for non-acidic drinks and consider frozen yogurt or fruit juices. Ginger in various forms can help with indigestion. Eat small amounts of carbohydrates every half an hour and opt for easily digestible low-fat foods (11).
Pregnancy raises the risk of foodborne illnesses due to changes in your immune system. Your unborn baby is also vulnerable, as their immune system isn't fully developed to fight harmful microorganisms (12).