During pregnancy, your body undergoes significant changes. Your blood pressure rises, your heart rate increases, your appetite increases, and your metabolism slow down. This means you need to eat better during pregnancy. If you don’t, you risk developing conditions such as gestational diabetes, preterm labour, or preeclampsia. What should you include in your food intake? Let’s see below the importance of eating healthy foods when you are pregnant.
Protein is essential for a growing baby during pregnancy
Protein is an important building block of life. It helps with the growth, repair, and maintenance of tissues. When it comes to pregnancy, protein is especially necessary because the additional weight that a woman gains can make it difficult for her joints to move normally. So, she needs extra protein to help keep her moving freely.
Carbohydrates are also essential when pregnant
Carbohydrate provides energy to the body. It is found mostly in plants and some grains, but not in dairy products. A good source of carbohydrates includes whole-grain bread and cereals, fruits, vegetables, beans, rice, pasta, potatoes, cereal bars, and other low-fat snacks. The amount of carbohydrates you consume depends on how active you are and whether you have gestational diabetes.
Fat is also needed.
Fat is another type of macronutrient (a term used to describe larger nutrients). Most fats contain both saturated fatty acids and unsaturated fatty acids. But because unsaturated fat does not raise cholesterol levels in the same way as saturated fat, it is considered healthier. Good sources of fat include avocados, fish, nuts, seeds, olive oil and canola oil. Unsaturated fats do not increase the risk of high cholesterol. They may even lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels by decreasing triglyceride levels. You will not be able to have too much fat while still consuming enough protein and carbohydrates.
Vitamins and minerals are crucial!
Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that your body cannot produce itself. Vitamin B12 and folic acid are two vitamins that women need to avoid deficiency during pregnancy. These are found only in animal products. In addition, calcium and iron are also recommended. Calcium is found in milk, cheese, yoghurt, and fortified breakfast cereals. Iron can be found in meat, poultry, egg yolks, legumes, and tofu. To get these nutrients from plant sources, you’ll have to take supplements or use fortified foods.
Water is important!
Water is very important for your health. You would probably drink 2-3 litres of water per day if you were healthy. However, during pregnancy, your urine output increases so you need 4-5 litres of water daily. Getting adequate amounts of water helps maintain proper fluid balance in your body, which prevents oedema (water retention), which can cause premature delivery.
Avoid alcohol consumption!
Alcohol has many negative effects on your unborn child. Alcohol interferes with fetal brain development and causes birth defects such as heart defects. Excessive alcohol intake may lead to miscarriage, placental abruption, preterm labour, low birthweight babies, and stillbirth.
Food allergies should also be avoided!
Food allergy affects about 5% of all pregnant women. If you suffer from food allergies, consult your doctor right away. This is because allergic reactions can affect your blood pressure, your kidneys, and your liver. Your baby’s immune system may be compromised if you develop a severe reaction. Some people who are allergic to peanuts, shellfish, eggs, soy, wheat, and dairy are instructed to avoid them completely during pregnancy. Others are allowed small amounts of these foods.
Exercise helps physical fitness!
Exercise improves cardiovascular strength. During pregnancy, exercises like swimming walks, jogging, cycling, yoga, aerobics, etc. help strengthen muscles. You don’t need to go out for hours to reap this benefit though. Just 30 minutes of walking every day may suffice. Maintain a consistent exercise routine throughout your pregnancy.
Have a restful sleep every day!
Sleep helps restore the body’s energy. During pregnancy, you need at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Lack of sleep can cause nausea, fatigue, mood swings, headaches, weight gain, and increased appetite. So make sure you’ve got sufficient time for sleeping. Turn off your mobile phone an hour before bedtime, and try using earplugs if you’re having trouble getting quality sleep.
Talk to your healthcare provider regularly!
Your healthcare provider is there to answer any questions you might have when you are pregnant. He/she can explain how your condition is affecting you as well as what you can expect going forward. Make yourself familiar with any changes in your normal diet, lifestyle habits, and medical history.
In conclusion, I hope that you now have a clear idea of what it takes to stay fit while pregnant. There are ways for everyone to achieve their goals, but just remember that your personal needs will differ depending on your fitness level, age, size, and several pregnancies. Discuss with your doctor what measures he recommends for you. And always pay attention to your body’s signals—if something doesn’t feel right, then ask your doctor.