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Healthy Daily Diet For Pregnant Women

Healthy Daily Diet For Pregnant Women

If there’s one topic where everyone seems to have a different opinion, it’s around the subject of health. It can be very difficult to get a straight answer on what we should and shouldn’t eat. First, we hear about a study showing something is bad for us. The next day, another study comes back that it’s good for us. It can make it very hard to know truth from trumped up.

The stakes, and often the confusion, are even higher when you become pregnant. The one thing that all studies agree on is: what a woman eats when she’s pregnant is very important for both her health and her baby’s.

So, if you’re pregnant, and are wondering what should you eat or what you should avoid we’ve got you covered. Here are a few things that are universally important for all pregnant women to include in their daily diets.

Water

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    It may seem like common sense, but many people forget how important it is to include water in their diets. In a world that runs on sugary drinks, teas, and coffees we sometimes forget that water is a huge part of our make up. We need to replace it throughout the day to stay healthy.

    If you’re pregnant, getting eight full glasses of water per day is even more crucial for your health. Your body is doing a lot of changing and adapting to grow a new life. Make sure you stay hydrated with pure water.

    If you find pure water too boring, you can also add lemon, lime, fresh cucumber, or fruit into your water to give it an extra kick. Keep a 16-oz water bottle with you to remind yourself to keep drinking. Fill it up at least four times throughout the day.

    Fresh Fruits and Veggies

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      This should come as no surprise to anyone. All studies tell us that getting enough fresh, whole fruits and vegetables in our diet keeps us healthier. Pregnant women should strive to get at least five servings per day from this food-group. Try to get a rainbow of colors on your plate to ensure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals possible.

      Orange Vegetables

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        Make sure to include one serving of an orange vegetable per day within the recommend five overall servings. Some good choices are carrots, squash, or sweet potatoes. The orange color indicates the presence of beta-carotene, which is converted to Vitamin A in your body.

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        While there are warnings about consuming too much Vitamin A during pregnancy, this is not a concern with beta-carotene. Your body will only convert what you need. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant. It helps protect your body against free radicals and ensures your immune system is strong.

        To make sure that you get enough orange veggies, keep a bag of carrots next to you to snack on. You can also cook squash or sweet potatoes in your oven and eat them as a healthy side dish.

        Dark Green Vegetables

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          Out of the five overall fruit and veggie servings, you need to eat at least two servings of dark leafy vegetables per day during your pregnancy. When it comes to greens, the darker the color the better. Some nutritionally dense veggies portraying the darker green color are kale, spinach, collards, and turnip greens. These power foods contain calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin, folic acid, magnesium, and again beta-carotene — the superstar phytochemical that is vital to your baby’s skin, bones, eyes, and cell growth.

          Try to eat these leafy green veggies both raw and cooked. You can throw all of your greens into a fresh salad and add extra color – or nutrients – by throwing in a rainbow of bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, and cranberries. You can also sauté these greens lightly for a hearty side dish. Kale also can be dried in the oven to make yummy kale chips – which is a healthier alternative to potato chips.

          Citrus Fruit

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            Make sure to include citrus fruits like oranges or grapefruit in your diet. While these fruits provide many important nutrients, the most important one is Vitamin C. This vitamin helps with the immunity of both mom and baby.

            Try to eat at least one serving of citrus fruit per day. You can start your day with a grapefruit or peel an orange as a midday snack. Try to choose the fruit over the juice, as the added fiber will help slow the absorption rate of the fruit sugars into the blood stream and avoid a sugar spike. Gestational diabetes also occurs in about 18% of all pregnancies. For these ladies, it’s crucial to keep their blood sugar stable. The extra fiber found in the fruit also helps with digestion.

            Whole Grains

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              Most dietitians also recommend six servings of enriched whole grains and cereals per day. Make sure you eat whole grains, not refined grains. The nutritional difference is night and day!

              Some good whole grains to work into your diet are oats, whole wheat, barley, quinoa, and rice. These foods contain B vitamins (like B1, B2, folic acid, and niacin), which are necessary for just about every part of your growing baby’s body. They are also packed with iron, selenium, and magnesium. Grains supply energy for your baby’s development. They also contain nutrients that help build the placenta.

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              Most grains also have plenty of fiber. Fiber is your new best friend when you’re pregnant. It helps prevent constipation and hemorrhoids, which can become more common during pregnancy.

              Grains are fairly easy to add into your diet. You can eat a cup of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal with fruit. You can add whole-grain pasta to your dinner, or even have a couple slices of whole-grain bread to surround a healthy sandwich full of fresh veggies and avocado for some healthy fats.

              Dairy

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                Many doctors also recommend that pregnant women get at least three servings of dairy products to provide calcium, vitamin D, phosphorous, and protein. Your baby needs these nutrients to develop teeth, bones, muscles, nerves, and a healthy heart. They also help your baby’s blood clot.

                Some healthy choices to include in your diet are cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, and some grass-fed butter spread on those yummy veggies.

                Protein

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                  Protein is a vital building block for both your body and your baby. Not getting enough protein can contribute to low birth weight. You should aim to get three servings of healthy protein per day.

                  Some great choices are lean meats, eggs, low mercury fish, legumes, nuts, and seeds. In addition to protein, fish provides an important Omega 3 fatty acid – DHA. This is crucial for the brain development of your little one.

                  You can eat lean meats in sandwiches or as your main dinner course, along with fish. Eggs can be hard-boiled for easy access later and used in salads or as a quick snack. Legumes are also a great choice in salads and sides. You can eat nuts and seeds as a snack, or enjoy fresh nut butters on whole wheat bread.

                  Supplements

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                    While it’s always best to get your vitamins and minerals naturally in your food, this doesn’t always happen. It’s a good idea to supplement your diet with critical prenatal vitamins such as omega 3 fatty acids, folic acid, iron, iodine, calcium, and vitamin D.

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                    What Foods Should Pregnant Women Avoid?

                    The foods that women should avoid when pregnant are often foods anyone else should also avoid to remain healthy. The stakes are just raised a bit higher when a baby’s development is tied to the mother’s dietary choices.

                    Junk Foods

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                      In general, highly processed junk foods should be avoided. If you can’t identify half of the ingredients on the nutrition label, it’s probably best to leave it alone. You and your baby don’t need all the excess salt, preservatives, and additives. However, just because a food is healthy doesn’t mean it can’t be a fast food. You don’t need that drive-through! After all, it’s just as easy and fast to grab an apple instead of an order of fries.

                      Sugar

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                        You should also watch your intake of sugar, as well as avoid soft drinks and other sweets during pregnancy. Too much sugar in your diet not only puts you at risk for insulin issues and gestational diabetes, it can also cause your immune system to weaken. Sugar actually inhibits phagocytosis, which is the immune system’s response to eliminating germs in the body that can make you sick.

                        Under-cooked Meat

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                          Now is not the time to have a rare steak or a slice of sushi. The bacteria that can sometimes be found in under-cooked meat can cause contamination with coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella.

                          Even though they are cooked, it is also best to avoid deli meats. They can be contaminated with listeria, which can cause a miscarriage. If you must eat any hot dogs or packaged meats, you should cook them until they are steaming to kill the bacteria.

                          Fish High in Mercury

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                            Unfortunately, our oceans have become polluted. When larger fish ingest smaller fish, this level of pollution becomes much more concentrated within their meat. The biggest concern is the level of mercury found in these fish.

                            The top offenders with higher mercury loads are swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tile-fish. Tuna may also be on this list depending on your source. The general rule of thumb is: the smaller the fish, the cleaner the meat.

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                            Unwashed Fruits and Veggies

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                              Make sure to thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables to avoid pesticides. If possible, buy organic to avoid contaminates found on commercially-grown produce.

                              Avoid raw sprouts, such as alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean. You can eat them, just cook them thoroughly first to avoid bacteria.

                              Limit Caffeine

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                                Caffeine has been shown to cross the placenta and affect your baby. Some studies suggest that caffeine may play a role in miscarriages; however, this risk is only seen after more than two cups of coffee per day. Many women avoid it all together to stay safe. However, if you just can’t function without that morning cup of coffee, you are probably okay as long as you limit it to 200 milligrams per day.

                                Avoid Alcohol

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                                  This point isn’t really up for much debate. No level of alcohol has been shown to be safe for your baby. Women who drink during pregnancy have higher risks of miscarriage and stillbirth. Even moderate drinking can impact your child’s brain development. Finally, too much alcohol during pregnancy results in fetal alcohol syndrome, which can cause facial deformities, heart defects, and mental issues.

                                  Your Choices Matter

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                                    Being pregnant is a very special time in a woman’s life. However, it is also a time where her choices affect the life of another. One of the best ways to ensure that you have a healthy baby is to offer every chance possible to start out well in this life.

                                    In fact, scientists are now studying a mother’s diet during pregnancy and its affect on epigenetics. Recently, an entire new field of nutrigenomics has been created to study the effect of diet on gene expression. While it’s not within the scope of this article, scientists are discovering that the nutrients a baby receives while developing and in early infancy can alter their very DNA structure. This further shows the importance of diet in not only helping to prevent illness, but also in shaping a future life at the cellular level.

                                    With new studies coming out all the time, some things remain constant. Eating fresh, whole foods has worked for centuries. If we continue to eat food found in its natural form, unaltered for the convenience of shelf life, presentation, profitability, sales growth, or higher yield returns, our kids should turn out alright.

                                    Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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                                    Sarah Hansen

                                    A corporate-sales professional turned entrepreneur

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                                    Published on September 10, 2020

                                    How to Be a Better Parent: 11 Things to Remember

                                    How to Be a Better Parent: 11 Things to Remember

                                    Two of the most challenging jobs in the world are raising a human being and being the best parent possible for them. Raising a child without implementing specific rules is not enough, however. The job has to be done in such a way that when you’re “done,” you’ve already created a loving, responsible, self-sufficient, kind-hearted, thoughtful, empathic, and respectful persona. Hence, it is ideal to lower the bar a little and start learning how to be a better parent.

                                    Don’t get me wrong; mistakes will be made along the way. You won’t be perfect, regardless of how hard you try.

                                    And no matter how great a job you do, your child may have issues beyond your control. Remember, they will be born with a will of their own that may conflict with yours. Nevertheless, carrying out the following tips will provide you with the best chance to create a fantastic human being of whom you can be proud.

                                    1. Listen

                                    I knew a couple who had a daughter. She was smart, sweet, and as cute as a button, but her parents were old school. They believed the adage that a child should be seen and not heard. She might as well have been a doll in a curio cabinet. Unfortunately, this little girl had a lot of exciting ideas and things to say. I knew this because she would share them with me on the occasions that we were alone.

                                    Children are interesting, funny, and curious, and they look upon you — their parent — as a hero. They have a wealth of knowledge and a great perspective on life. Listening to your child is one of the greatest gifts you can offer. They will feel valued and grow up knowing that they matter.

                                    It’s not always easy to listen. Sometimes, children will carry on without saying anything profound. But if they believe you’re listening, they will feel important and provide you with amazing nuggets of information.

                                    Note: Make a real and honest effort when you are listening to your children. Don’t listen while multitasking and muttering, “Hmm, that’s nice, dear!”

                                    Sadly, I’ve seen lots of parents on their phones, their heads buried in Facebook or Instagram feed, while their child tries unsuccessfully to get their attention. In his book, The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck, M. D., wrote, “You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time. True listening, total concentration on the other, is always a manifestation of love.”

                                    2. Provide Unconditional Love

                                    I knew a mother who loved her son so much, but her love came at a high price. When he behaved as she expected him to — getting recognition for being a star athlete or academic achievements — she showered him with love. In truth, she bragged and put up framed newspaper articles of her son’s accomplishments.

                                    That same boy, though, went through a rough patch when he was a senior, becoming unruly and hostile. Down came the framed article, and up came the silent treatment.

                                    Providing unconditional love creates a secure bond and a healthy person. Knowing you have your parent’s love no matter what makes a fantastic anchor for the child. They know they can mess up and still be loved. They know they can come to you with their worst offenses, and while you might get upset, your love will remain intact.

                                    3. Teach by Example

                                    Children watch and listen to you very closely. You may think that they’re not paying attention, that they’re in the other room, playing with their Legos, but they are listening.

                                    If you want to teach your child, lead by example.

                                    For instance, if you want them to eat healthy foods, eat healthy foods. If you don’t want them to pick up bad habits, like smoking, don’t smoke. If you don’t want them to be violent, be peaceful. If you wish to raise a trustworthy child, keep your word.[1]

                                    If you want to teach your child how to communicate, speak kindly and listen with an open heart. Whatever you want your child to learn, be willing to do it yourself. You are the best teacher for the job!

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                                    4. Spend Time Together Often

                                    Life is full of work, errands, get-togethers, appointments, etc. It’s easy to get lost in all the hustle and bustle and not leave enough time for your children. I know busy parents who set their children down on the couch to watch TV or play with an iPad while they’re working.

                                    Occasionally, that isn’t a bad thing. But regularly, it can create a gap between you and your child.

                                    You can avoid being an absentee parent by spending time with your children every day. Talk to them about anything; ask about their day. If you can, allow them to help you with household chores. E.g., cleaning, folding laundry or stacking dishes in the dishwasher.

                                    They’ll feel good when they know you need them, and you can use this as a family bonding opportunity.

                                    5. Follow Through

                                    Follow through creates trust in your child. They will believe that what you say you’re going to do will genuinely be done.

                                    Children are very perceptive. Let me reiterate: they are always watching and listening.

                                    For instance, I was on a walk one afternoon with my granddaughter and her parents. The little girl was asked if she wanted to ride the stroller, and she replied, “No, I want to walk.”

                                    My daughter-in-law responded, “Okay, but if you get tired, I’m not carrying you! Understood?”

                                    After about 15 minutes, my granddaughter complained that her legs hurt. She started whining and complaining. When my daughter-in-law picked her up, she commented, “I thought you said you weren’t going to pick me up?”

                                    My daughter-in-law did not follow through, and her daughter knew it. She was only four years old.

                                    You see, when parents say things and end up not doing them, they become empty threats — words without any back-up.

                                    Following through is critical in raising a responsible adult. You need to be kind, clear, and concise.

                                    The child has to know that you mean business. If you tell them they’re not having a sleepover unless their homework is done, then the homework better be done. If it’s not, there will be no sleepover.

                                    It doesn’t matter if you had plans with your friends or a date with your husband. Just make sure that whatever the consequences are for your kids’ bad behavior, you can back it up with action.

                                    6. Focus on Positive Qualities

                                    There is an old American proverb that says, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease/oil.” It is used to communicate the notion that the most clamorous problems are the ones that will more than likely get noticed.

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                                    If your child is well-behaved and minding their own business, you might be tempted to let them be. On the other hand, if they are acting out and making a raucous, they may get a lot of attention.

                                    This sends the message that the kids have to misbehave before you focus on them. Bad attention, after all, is better than no attention.

                                    Positive attention is paramount. If you only pay attention to your child’s negative behavior while ignoring their positive qualities, you are robbing them the chance of being their best selves.

                                    Simply notice all the things you love about your kids and minimize the criticisms. That’s especially essential when you have children between the ages 0 and 5. Since they are impressionable, whatever you say often will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

                                    Here are more ideas on how to think positively despite the circumstance: Turn to the Bright Side: 10 Ways to Encourage Post-Incident Positive Thinking

                                    7. Apologize When Necessary

                                    We all make mistakes. There are some parents, however, who don’t apologize no matter how many mistakes they make with their children. They incorrectly assume that apologizing is a sign of weakness.

                                    Well, nothing could be farther from the truth. As we have learned before,[2]

                                    “Apologizing to your child is a sign of respect for the overall relationship you have with him.”

                                    Making mistakes is human. I guarantee you that your child will not think less of you. If you fail to apologize, you miss out on a teachable moment about the importance of taking responsibility. After all, you want your child to apologize when they do something wrong.

                                    If the kids lie, lash out at another child, or break something of value, you want them to own up to it and apologize for what’s happened. It is during these moments that you teach your child that an apology is the right course of action. If you don’t do the same thing, what exactly are you teaching them?

                                    You may find it difficult to apologize because you feel superior or fear losing your authority. In truth, your child will see you as a human, and they may feel closer to you than ever.

                                    Show your kid that no one is perfect, that you all make mistakes in life. Apologies can correct so many wrongs. Just a few simple words can cure the worst transgressions.

                                    A word for the wise: put your ego aside. Say you’re sorry and move on. If you can do that, you will be building a strong relationship — one based on love and respect — with your children.

                                    8. Allow Kids to Be Who They Want to Be

                                    My maternal grandfather, Pánfilo D. Camacho, was a lawyer and author in Havana, Cuba.[3] He expected my uncle, Jorge Camacho, to follow in his footsteps.[4] My uncle, however, wanted to be an artist and fulfill his dreams in Paris, France.

                                    At the time, my grandfather did not see art as a “real job” or something that could provide security. Despite knowing how his father felt, my uncle met with him and explained that his goals. Thankfully, my grandfather thought about it and gave his only son his blessing. He also helped with all the necessary expenses to get my uncle to Paris and study with the best of the best.

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                                    My uncle became a very celebrated artist in France. Jorge Camacho’s amazing surrealist art is still sold today.

                                    This scenario could have played out quite differently if my grandfather dug in his heels. He could have forced my uncle to become a lawyer just like him.

                                    Fortunately, he realized that allowing my uncle to be who he wanted to be was the right thing to do. And it was. My uncle was grateful and made a name for himself. My grandfather was proud, and their relationship grew strong.

                                    Allow your child to be who they want to be, not who you think they should be. After all, it is their life — their journey. You’re just there to watch and provide guidance whenever necessary.

                                    9. Grow Along With Your Children

                                    Children grow and evolve, just like us. It’s important to grow with them and adjust the way you discipline and talk to them.

                                    For example, if your 4-year-old misbehaves by bending the truth or whining, you may ignore their antics and stay calm with regards to the lying. This is common for this age group.

                                    If you’re dealing with an 8-year-old, your child understands the difference between right and wrong and looks to you for guidance.[5]

                                    Meanwhile, teens need to be addressed in another way. That is a difficult and challenging age group — one that deserves great care and attention. You cannot talk to your 16-year-old as if they were still 9!

                                    10. Validate Their Feelings

                                    While growing up, lots of things that generate a multitude of feelings happen. As a parent, you want to take the time to validate your child’s feelings. Don’t be dismissive and act like their feelings are not important.

                                    The other day, my 8.5-year-old granddaughter came over. I could see that she’d been crying. When I asked if she was, she looked at me with sad eyes. My granddaughter informed me that she missed her best friend whom she hadn’t seen for almost six months since the community quarantine began.

                                    I didn’t say, “Don’t worry about it; you’ll see her someday! Now, run along.” Nope. I looked her in the eye and said, “It must be so tough not to see your best friend for such a long time.”

                                    My granddaughter’s eyes welled up with tears as she nodded. I validated her feelings, and she felt heard. As it turned out, her little friend was allowed to visit the next day. She came over to my house again, but this time, she exclaimed, “This is the happiest day of my quarantine!”

                                    If you do not validate your child’s feelings, they will think that their feelings are unimportant and learn not to share them at all. You don’t want that, of course.

                                    You want to have your finger on the pulse of their emotions. You need to make sure they come to you in the future when heavier things come down the pipe.

                                    Here’s an example of WHAT NOT TO SAY: Your teenage daughter comes to you and utters, “Richard broke up with me. I’m devastated!” Then, you reply, “Don’t worry about it! There is plenty of fish in the sea — probably even better ones. You’re too young anyway.” You might as well have stabbed her in the heart.

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                                    Instead of doing that, try saying, “That is heartbreaking. You must really be hurting. If you want to talk, I’m here to listen.”

                                    Listen and communicate with compassion.

                                    11. Ask Open-Ended Questions

                                    Whenever I used to pick up my 16-year-old grandson from school, I’d make the mistake of asking, “How was school today?”

                                    You can probably guess the answer. It was always the same, “Good!” Just one lonely word.

                                    So, I decided on another approach: asking open-ended questions. The next time I picked him up, I asked, “So, what was the best part of your day?”

                                    It was impossible for my grandson to just reply, “Good.” He was forced to stop and think about some incidents that already happened. It doesn’t matter what they tell you; the key is to get them to talk. That’s how you learn what’s going on in their lives.

                                    This not only works with children but also with adults. For example, when you ask someone, “Do you like your job?”, they may answer yes or no. But if you say, “What do you like or dislike about your job?”, you’ll get a lot of information.

                                    Open-ended questions are the key to getting more information than you’ll know what to do with!

                                    Final Thoughts

                                    Being a good and responsible parent can be one of the most rewarding tasks in the world. It is not effortless, however. It takes a lot of work and patience.

                                    Implementing the above-mentioned 11 suggestions won’t guarantee a perfect family, but you will have a solid base to build and grow upon.

                                    Your child is a reflection of you. What do you wish them to reflect?

                                    Learn how to be a better parent and help produce a legacy of outstanding humans.

                                    More on Improving Your Parenting Skills

                                    Featured photo credit: Gabe Pierce via unsplash.com

                                    Reference

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