The temptation to indulge in your favourite food is great since the additional calories could be camouflaged by your pregnancy itself. But bear in mind that a healthy amount of weight would ensure a more comfortable pregnancy besides reducing the risks of complications such as diabetes and high blood pressure. You do not need to eat for two in terms of quantity. Just eat for two in terms of nutrition.
Ensure that you get a balanced diet which consists of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. On top of these, you would need a generous serving of foods rich in fibre.
Your daily diet should contain the following:
- Milk and dairy products – 1 to 2 servings
- Rice, cereals or wholemeal bread – 4 servings
- Meat, poultry, eggs, fish, cheese or beans – 2 servings
- Green leafy vegetables – 2 servings
- Fruits and other vegetables – 2 to 3 servings
- Water – 6 to 8 glasses
A serving is measured as below:
Milk and dairy products 1 glass of milk
1 slice of cheese
1 cup of yoghurt
Rice or pasta ½ cup (cooked)
Bread 1 slice
Ready-to-eat cereal ¾ cup
Meat, poultry, fish About 75 to 100g
Eggs 1 to 2 eggs
Legumes ½ cup (cooked)
(beans, lentils, dried peas)
Vegetables ½ cup
Fruits 1 slice (watermelon, papaya, pineapple)
There is no need to add more salt to your cooked food. If possible, avoid food with spices and those with too much ginger. You would need to reduce your intake of sugary stuff. Tea and coffee can be taken in moderation, which should not be more than three cups per day.
Folic acid is used to make red blood cells. During pregnancy, your requirement for folic acid doubles as this is the time for additional blood formation and rapid tissue growth for you and your baby. Ideally, you should ensure adequate intake of folic acid even before you conceive. In this way, you are assured of sufficient folic acid at the beginning of your pregnancy for the development of the baby’s brain and spinal cord.
Folic acid can be found in green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, legumes and nuts. Cook the greens lightly or eat them raw because overcooking will destroy folic acid. There are also many foods that are fortified with folic acid such as breads, breakfast cereals and milk drinks.
Your daily diet may not provide adequate amount of folic acid. Consult a doctor for the recommended dose. He may prescribe a prenatal multi-vitamin that contains the required amount of folic acid.
Iron is another essential nutrient during pregnancy. It helps the red blood cells to transport oxygen around the body. A higher intake of iron, especially iron supplements, could lead to constipation. Therefore, you may depend on the iron found in food instead, such as liver, kidneys, beef, sardines, eggs, dried fruit, almond, wholegrain bread, broccoli, green leafy vegetables and seaweeds.
However, if you need an iron supplement to get enough iron, combining it with vitamin C would aid iron absorption. In addition, foods rich in fibre would reduce the occurrence of constipation.
Consult a doctor
As your baby’s developing organs are very fragile, do not take any supplements without consulting your doctor. These supplements when consumed would enter the baby’s bloodstream and could cause irreversible damage.