During pregnancy, the human body will absorb the nutrients from food a lot easier. Nature knows best: this upgrade on nutrient absorption is necessary given the unborn child feeds itself through you, via the umbilical cord. The problem is, common knowledge mistakenly maintains that pregnant women need to eat twice as much to provide ideal nutrition to the little one they’re carrying.
The truth is, they don’t really need to be eating that much. In fact, pregnant women should avoid eating in excess: being overweight may cause gestational diabetes, among other health issues, therefore putting both the mother and the baby’s health at risk. Women who are overweight and give birth to babies weighing over 4 kgs might suffer complications during childbirth. Bigger babies have a higher risk of developing respiratory issues as well as metabolic and psychological dysfunctions throughout their lives.
That’s why doctors tend to give pregnant patients a harder time when it comes to controlling their dietary habits during the course of their pregnancy, and not without reason. Studies show that less than half of the female population can stay within the recommended weight gain spectrum during their pregnancies; it is recommended they gain no more than 12 kgs during the entire period.
A+ dietary habits for pregnant women:
Whole grains: Because they help with the digestive process, specifically with the proper functioning of the bowels, whole grains help fight common issues in pregnancy, such as constipation, gases, and hemorrhoids. Good examples include chia seeds, granola, oats, and flax seeds.
Oleaginous: Nuts, cashews, almonds, and pistachios: Sources of fatty acids and vitamin E, they help prevent allergies for the baby.
Pasteurized milk and nonfat derivatives: Calcium helps control your cardiac frequency and blood coagulation. For the baby, it helps in forming bones, teeth, nerves, the heart, and muscles.
Baked or grilled lean red meat, chicken, or fish: All of these are rich in protein. A powerful source of omega-3, fish, is essential for the development of the fetus.
Vegetables and leafy greens: Don’t forget to wash these to eliminate any trace amounts of dirt or pesticides.
Fruits: They contain crucial vitamins that you and your baby need. Besides, the sugar in fruits helps curb the desire for chocolate or other sugary goods and are perfect little snacks to eat in between meals.
Liquids (water, natural juices, and coconut water): the recommendation is to drink 6 to 8 cups of fluids daily, preferably in between meals.
Do (but in moderation):
Caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate): These are all stimulants, and in excess, they might interfere with your weight gain as well as the baby’s weight.
Diet and light foods/drinks and artificial sweeteners: Try to avoid saccharin and cyclamate, which have potential carcinogens that can travel through the placenta.
Excessive consumption of sodium: Too much salt can cause hypertension and, consequently, preeclampsia.
Alcoholic beverages: Alcohol permeates through the placenta and affects the formation of the baby, which, in the future, presents the risk of behavioral problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD).
Raw meats, eggs, uncooked fish, and unpasteurized milk and derivatives: These are potential bacteria transmitters. Given that pregnant women tend to have weaker immune systems, they become more vulnerable to gastrointestinal issues and contamination of microorganisms.
Processed foods, with dyes and preservatives, fried foods, and saturated fats: These foods can cause bloating and can interfere negatively with digestion.
Why practice mindful eating?
The concept of mindfulness, or the attention and conscious thought and capacity to focus on the present moment, has gathered the attention of more and more people and has been applied in different aspects of life. One of them is known as mindful eating, an exciting concept for pregnant women as they give preference to peace of mind during their meals. In practice, this translates to not rushing while eating, thoroughly chewing your food, and paying attention to flavors, textures, aromas, temperatures, and colors.
Studies show that putting mindful eating in practice helps avoid excess eating and provides a greater sense of satiation. That means you’ll feel less inclined to snack during the day and opt for smaller portions without even noticing. To enhance your experience, turn off all electronics when sitting down to eat.
That being said, don’t forget that, during pregnancy, it is important to keep yourself well-fed and to eat approximately every two hours, instead of eating three large meals per day.