“How Much Should I Eat During my Pregnancy?” and other Pregnancy Diet FAQs answered!
With pregnancy comes a host of advice on what your pregnancy diet should be to ensure optimal health for your baby. But some of this advice can be quite contradictory and make you worry about dietary choices. Get your answers to pregnancy diet questions answered all at once!
Pregnancy Diet FAQs
Pregnancy brings along a host of worries and problems. From wondering what to eat and what not to eat, to dealing with morning sickness and rapid weight gain, pregnancy is a roller coaster ride and you are sure to have a ton of questions about the right pregnancy diet you should follow to provide the best for your baby. Here we address a few commonly asked questions on pregnancy diet to guide you during this confusing time.
Commonly Asked Questions on Pregnancy Diet
1. What To Eat And Drink If I Suffer From Morning Sickness?
Morning sickness, or a feeling of nausea and vomiting, is very common during pregnancy. It is believed to happen due to the body’s reaction to human chorionic gonadotropin (hcG), a hormone produced during pregnancy. Experts recommend moms to avoid greasy or spicy food to alleviate morning sickness. Therefore, opt for bland and dry food. Foods that are low fat but have high levels of carbs work well. These include bread and pasta.
Additionally, avoid lying down after eating as it slows down digestion. Eat small and frequent meals and snacks instead of heavy, infrequent meals to aid digestion. Drink plenty of water and take your vitamins at night instead of daytime to help deal with morning sickness.
2. What If I Am A Vegetarian?
If you are vegetarian and pregnant, you just need to ensure that you get enough protein intake from vegetarian sources like lentils, dairy products, green leafy vegetables, etc.
3. How Much Should I Eat During My Pregnancy?
The amount of daily calorie intake during pregnancy depends on your weight when you became pregnant. If your BMI (body mass index) was normal, then you need to maintain a calorie intake of 2000 calories per day in the first two trimesters and increase this to 2200 calories per day in the third trimester. The amount of calories will change depending on whether you were overweight or underweight at the time of pregnancy. It will also vary based on whether you are expecting twins or multiple babies. Consult your doctor to understand the best for your body.
Did You Know: Most pregnant women are recommended to start ‘eating for two’ when they become pregnant, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. You are to add just about 200 more calories to your regular diet and that too, only in the third trimester. Eating for two will only increase the amount of pregnancy weight that you’ll have to lose after delivery.
4. How To Manage Weight Gain During Pregnancy?
It is important to understand that weight gain is quite normal and expected during pregnancy, however overshooting it isn’t advisable. First and foremost remember you are NOT eating for two (your baby is a fraction of an adult size). Find healthier alternatives to your cravings (eg: substitute ice creams with yogurts), follow the ‘early to bed early to rise’ advice and drink plenty of water to keep yourself well hydrated. Needless to say you should include some amount of physical activity in a day- sign up for prenatal yoga or go for an evening walk. The key is to keep yourself active and moving. Last but not the least, indulge from time to time but always keep a track of what you are putting in that belly as it will affect the little one growing inside you.
5. How Can Food Poisoning Affect My Pregnancy?
While mild food poisoning won’t cause much harm to your baby, certain types of food poisoning like salmonella and E. coli can be dangerous for your baby and in extreme cases even cause a miscarriage or preterm birth. Therefore, always consult your doctor as soon as you suspect food poisoning. Some common signs of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, headache, fever, abdominal pain or discomfort, dehydration, etc. Also be extremely careful of the food you eat as your body’s immunity system is weak at this stage.
Did You Know: Listeria is a bacteria found in uncooked meats and vegetables, unpasteurized milk and processed foods. They cause Listeriosis, a type of food poisoning that can result in an infection to the baby, miscarriage, preterm birth, etc. Pregnant women are at a higher risk of Listeriosis. Listeria can be killed by pasteurization and cooking.
What To Eat And What Not To Eat During Pregnancy
6. Are Artificial Sweeteners Ok During Pregnancy?
There are about six types of sweeteners with the most common ones being aspartame, sucralose and saccharin. These artificial sweeteners are safe during pregnancy in most cases. However, in certain pregnancies where the mom-to-be has a genetic condition called phenylketonuria (PKU), aspartame needs to be avoided during pregnancy as PKU affects the body’s ability to process an enzyme found in this sweetener, and this can result in birth defects. Always consult your doctor before opting for any artificial sweeteners to avoid any risks.
7. Can I Eat Fermented Food When Pregnant?
Yes, fermented food (example: homemade curds, pickles) can very well be eaten during pregnancy. In fact, fermented foods help in increasing the good bacteria in your body and help protect you and your baby during a time when your immune system is weak! They also protect you from any sort of yeast infections that are common during pregnancy.
8. What Cheese To Avoid In Pregnancy?
Cheese that is mould ripened which includes Brie, Camembertan (a soft goats’ cheese), and variants like chèvre should be avoided. However, cheese made from pasteurized milk like mozzarella, feta, cream cheese, paneer, ricotta and processed cheese like cheese spreads can be safely consumed during pregnancy.
9. Can I Eat Packaged Salad During Pregnancy?
As far as possible, avoid packaged salads as even if they are prepared with washed vegetables and cooked meat, as it still gives a chance for bacteria to grow between the time that the salad is prepared and consumed. Additionally, certain dressings like the dressing for Caesar salad may be made from raw eggs and needs to be avoided. So it is best to have fresh salad made with ingredients prepped at home. Also, use dressings like Ranch and Italian dressing that are made from ingredients permissible to eat during pregnancy.
10. How Much Caffeine Consumption Is Allowed During Pregnancy?
While there are varying opinions on caffeine consumption and its contribution to miscarriage or preterm birth, recent studies state that as long as the caffeine consumption is limited to a maximum of 200 mg per day, it isn’t likely to cause a miscarriage or preterm birth. However, remember that a cup of 180 -200 ml coffee contains about 70 to 140 mg of caffeine and thus should be the only cup you consume through the day. Other sources of caffeine include chocolate, tea, and cold caffeinated beverages.
11. How Can I Plan Healthy Meals During Pregnancy?
Depending on how far into your pregnancy you are and the amount of physical activity you get during a day, you can determine your total calorie intake per day. Divide this into food groups that consist of grains, vegetables & fruits, protein/meat products, and dairy products in fixed quantities. You can allocate a certain amount of calories to satisfy the pregnancy cravings you are sure to face during this time. Your doctor too will have some advice on your dietary requirements that you should be following as well. You can consult him for drawing up your healthy pregnancy meal plan.
Watch: 10 super foods you must have during your pregnancy:
12. Are Oils And Fats Part Of Healthy Eating During Pregnancy?
Certain types of fats and oils are good for your body, especially during pregnancy, and are part of a healthy diet when eaten with foods like grains, vegetables, fruits, and meat or milk products. However, fats found in foods like processed butter, mayonnaise, etc., are ‘empty calories’ that are not good for health and need to be eaten in moderation.
13. Is Non Veg Food Safe During Pregnancy?
Yes, non-vegetarian foods are safe during pregnancy provided certain precautions are taken. Foods like chicken and egg whites are good sources of proteins, while fish provide omega 3 fatty acids which are extremely important for pregnant women. However, remember to eat meat that is well cooked and made at home to avoid risks like bacterial infection. Additionally, strictly avoid sushi, raw eggs, and fish that are rich in mercury levels like Mackerel, Sword fish, Tilefish, etc. as they can harm your baby’s development.
14. Can I Eat Seafood During Pregnancy?
As discussed in the previous question, some seafood varieties can contain high mercury levels that can detrimental to the baby’s development. Therefore, certain types of fish like the Mackerel, Shark and Sword fish should be skipped. However, for any seafood that you do eat, make sure that it is well cooked and that you know the source – commercial seafood is checked and regulated, but if you use fresh seafood make sure it is safe to eat the fish from the area of origin. Fish and shellfish are good sources of omega 3 fatty acids and protein so, if you eat fish, you shouldn’t skip them completely.
Nutrition and Supplements During Pregnancy
15. Why Are Multivitamins And Other Supplements Necessary During Pregnancy?
To ensure that your baby gets all the right nutrients he needs for optimum development in the womb, it is necessary that you maintain a well-balanced diet. In addition to a well-balanced diet, taking certain prenatal vitamins and supplements is also crucial to avoid any deficiencies during this sensitive time. You may not be able to get the adequate amount of required nutrients from food sources alone, and this is where supplements will help you. While certain supplements like vitamin D and folic acid are necessary for all mothers, other supplements vary for women due to a variety of reasons and your doctor will guide you better for the same.
16. Why Are Vitamin D And Calcium Needed Throughout Pregnancy?
Calcium and Vitamin D are extremely important nutrients in a pregnancy diet as they do not work exclusively. Vitamin D is required to absorb calcium and together they are crucial for your baby’s bone development and your overall bone health. Besides, vitamin D is also known to have an impact on your immune system. Calcium on the other hand is required for your baby’s bone, teeth, healthy heart, nerves and muscles development and it also reduces the risk of hypertension and preeclampsia in pregnant women.
17. How Can I Get The Extra Amounts Of Vitamins And Minerals I Need During Pregnancy?
While most of your nutritional needs will be met if you follow a well-balanced and healthy diet during pregnancy, certain vitamins and minerals will be needed in extra amounts that you will find tough to fulfill from just diet. This includes iron, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, etc. Based on your diet and health, your doctor will recommend multivitamins and supplements during your pregnancy to meet the needs of these vitamins and minerals.
18. Should I Drink Whole Milk To Obtain The Most Nutrients?
Yes, whole milk is a better option over low-fat or skim milk as it provides a host of nutrients that support your baby’s development, while also providing lasting benefits to the mom-to-be’s health.
19. Is It Too Late To Take Folic Acid?
During pregnancy, your folate levels need to increase and it gets tough to fulfill those needs just through diet. Folate contributes to the development of the neural tube in your baby, which turns into the brain and spine. The neural tube is formed in the first twelve weeks, hence it is crucial that you take folic acid supplements in this time. However, taking folic acid after these twelve weeks will not have much of an impact on the neural tube – but won’t harm you either and is safe to take all the way through your pregnancy.
20. Are There Any Herbal Supplements That Can Help?
Certain herbal supplements that are considered to be good for pregnant women include tonic herbs like Ginger, Chamomile, Nettle leaves, etc. They are safe for consumption and can be taken in the form of tea infusions or capsules. However, there is a common misconception that just because herbs are natural, they can’t harm you. This is not true. Certain herbs can prove to be deadly if ingested during pregnancy, and these include Aloe Vera, Basil oil, bitter Orange, etc. Additionally, the effect of these herbs cannot be predicted in combination with regular supplements. Therefore, be careful to consult your doctor before opting for any herbal supplements. (1)
21. What Can I Eat To Boost My Iron Levels Now I’m Pregnant?
During pregnancy, your body requires higher levels of iron than normal and to meet the same you should consume iron rich foods like green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, fortified cereals and grains, etc. To help your body absorb iron, include vitamin C rich foods like citrus fruits, fresh vegetables, etc. Additionally consult your doctor as well for iron supplements that you can opt for.
As we try our best to address your pregnancy concerns in a concise manner, we hope you got the answers you were looking for. We remind you however, each woman’s body is different and each pregnancy is different. Your doctor is the best person to guide you through the changes your body undergoes at this time. Eat healthy, stay positive, and have a happy pregnancy!