Nutrition

The Diet for Two

Now that you’re pregnant, you can’t but help become intensely aware of the connection between your own nutrition and the health of your unborn baby. Most women feel motivated to modify their eating habits. As days go by, you find that you start craving for carbohydrates and you may not know why. Some women will start worrying about the growing weight due to this.

Studies show that severe malnutrition early in pregnancy can lead to birth defects and fetal deaths. Both your weight before pregnancy and your weight gain during pregnancy will greatly affect your baby’s weight at birth and its subsequent health. If you’re underweight, you’ll have fewer stores of essential nutrients to supply the baby, and your poor eating habits are likely to continue during pregnancy, making matters worse. Underweight mothers tend to have less healthy babies. If you’re overweight, the best time to lose weight is also before you become pregnant, especially since it may be harmful to your fetus for you to lose weight during pregnancy. Since the fetus doesn’t need to diet, significant weight loss in the mother can limit the fetus’s access to important nutrients and cause harmful metabolic stress. When you lose weight, your body must break down fat. This causes certain chemicals, called ketone bodies, to enter the bloodstream, which may cause metabolic and nervous system damage to the developing fetus. In this diet plan we advice that you discuss this with your obstetrician to get the best combination possible.

Fruit and vegetables

Eat at least five servings a day. This can include a glass of pure fruit juice. This food group includes fresh, frozen and canned fruit and vegetables, salads, dried fruit, fruit juices. Most fruits are a good source of vitamins which fall into two categories: fat soluble and water soluble. The fat-soluble vitamins include A, D, E, and K. These are stored in the body and need not be consumed every day. In high doses, vitamins A, D, and E may be toxic or teratogenic (teratogens are physical, chemical, or infectious factors that cause damage to the fetus). The water-soluble vitamins include the B vitamins and vitamin C. Since these are not stored in the body, you need to renew your supply of them each day. They are also quite fragile and can be destroyed by food processing.

Meats, alternatives and fish

We recommend that you eat 1-2 servings every day. It is better to choose lean meat, remove the skin from poultry and cook using the minimum of fat. Try to eat oily fish at least once a week. This food group includes meat (except liver), fish, poultry, eggs, beans, and nuts (except peanuts).

High fat and sugar foods

Limit the amount of carbohydrates you eat every day. This food group includes all spreading fats, oils, salad dressings, cream, chocolate, crisps, biscuits, pastries, ice-cream, cake, puddings, and fizzy drinks. It is important to note that excessive blood glucose levels in diabetic patients during early pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects. In nondiabetic, the excessive sugar intake does not cause birth defects but may cause excessive poundage and tooth decay if you do not have good oral hygiene. On the other hand if you don’t include enough carbohydrates in your diet, you are in essence starving both you and your baby, and this can interfere with normal fetal growth. Too much consumption of sweet foods may replace other; more nutrient-dense foods in the diet, such as vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products. Recommendations for health-promoting diets indicate that 50 to 60 percent of our total calories should come from carbohydrates, particularly food sources of the complex carbohydrates.

Dietary Fiber

Dietary fiber differs from starches in that it is not digested by enzymes produced by humans. Consequently, it is not considered to be a source of energy. Dietary fiber is found only in plants and comes in two basic types. One type is the fibrous components of plant cells, particularly plant cell walls. The other type is nonfibrous components of plant cells that are primarily found inside of cells. Dietary fiber, even though it is not absorbed into the body proper, has a number of effects. The specific effect varies according to what type of dietary fiber is consumed. Fibrous forms of dietary fiber, such as that found in bran and fruit and vegetable skins, helps prevent constipation, a common condition during pregnancy. Gel-forming nonfibrous fiber, such as that contained in the pulp of fruit, oatmeal, and dried beans, slows glucose absorption and decreases the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed from foods. This type of fiber also enhances elimination by forming bulk in the intestine that moves waste products along.