New Delhi: With the baby boom during COVID-19, the stress that to-be mothers are feeling as they gear up to welcome a new member during the pandemic in their family is immense. While they need to follow all COVID-appropriate behaviour and precautions, we are here to tell you what foods you should eat for a healthy pregnancy.
There are some nutrients that are vital for the initial few days of fetus growth – especially those needed for brain and spine development. And these must be made available right from day 1, so it is important you plan your food when you start planning your baby.
While all nutrients are important, the exciting six-pack that plays a key role in your baby’s growth and development are – Folic acid, Iron, Calcium, Vitamin D, Iodine and DHA.
Below are insights by Anupama Menon – a nutritionist and food coach, to guide you through your food requirements while expecting a baby.
Folic acid is important to prevent neural tube defects (defects to the spine and brain): When planning pregnancy, your doctor will start you off on folic acid supplementation right at the planning stage but nothing like nutrients made available through food. Below are food items rich in folic acid.
Foods rich in folic acid
Dark green leaves, legumes, eggs, beets, oranges and lemon and everything citrus, broccoli, walnuts, flaxseeds, beef liver, wheat germ, papaya, banana, and avocado.
Iron is used to make a well-recognized protein, haemoglobin that carries oxygen to the rest of the body from the lungs. And during pregnancy, you need double the iron to make more blood to carry the oxygen to your baby too. Your baby also needs iron to make his/her own blood.
Foods rich in iron
So, load up on iron-rich foods like- Liver, sardines, salmon, turkey which are the most well-absorbed sources of iron. Lentils, tofu, peas, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, green leaves, tomato juice/paste, jacket potatoes, mushrooms, prune juice, olives are all well packed vegetarian forms of iron. Squeezing lemon juice with your foods helps improve absorption of iron from vegetarian foods.
Calcium helps develop your baby’s bones, teeth, heart, muscles and nerves. So it’s important to get the right element of calcium into your diet.
Foods rich in calcium
Milk, fish and milk products are great sources and can be included in your diet every day. Try to include one serving of calcium as a midmeal apart from your food – as the absorption of calcium could be interfered with because of the presence of iron and vice versa.
Try to use organic milk and its products as much as possible to avoid the possible influx of excess hormones from inorganic milk.
Vitamin D is needed for the absorption of calcium and is just as important. It is not available from too many sources and hence you should discuss with your doctor a daily supplement. Vitamin D is also important to maintain the integrity of your immune system.
Foods with Vitamin D
Mushrooms, salmon, and the good sun are your best friends for this addition.
Iodine is important to make the thyroid hormones, which during pregnancy help your baby’s nervous system develop – the brain, the spinal cord and the nerves). Iodine is available from the crops (vegetables and fruits) as it absorbs this mineral from the soil. So load up on your fruits and veggies.
Foods with iodine
Use only iodized salt as salts like Himalayan pink, Celtic salt, black salt may not contain adequate amounts. The iodine from the salt is your daily go-to source.
Besides, fish and milk products are good sources of iodine.
So, as we look at this exhaustive laundry list of foods, organic milk and milk products, fish, nuts and seeds, citrus fruits and veggies and legumes are important foods that must be included several times a week if you are planning a pregnancy.
Also carefully look at your supplement pack and come to a decision on your multivitamins with your doctor.
FOODS TO AVOID DURING PREGNANCY
Below are food items you should avoid during pregnancy.
• A strict NO to alcohol and smoking
• Avoid trans fats: Trans fats are inflammatory – so no vanaspati, margarine, and use nut/seed oils instead of vegetable oils.
• Avoid processed foods like the plague: They contain an excess, salt, sugar, preservatives, possibly artificial color, and fats – which you do not need also
• Cut on your sugar intake
(Disclaimer: Please consult your doctor before following any advice).