A well balanced diet combined with regular physical activity is the cornerstone of good health. But often, due to our lifestyle there isn’t enough time to cook and our diet takes a back seat.
Studies have shown that weight gain pattern in women differs from that in men. Also, women generally are more conscious and struggle with weight issues more than men. This often leads to trying different kinds of diets and eating habits, all of which may not be healthy. But there are certain times in a woman’s life when diet is of utmost importance and pregnancy is the most important phase of them all.
Before I got pregnant, I too always struggled with my weight. Being a foodie, I always needed to control my portion sizes and avoid binge eating. So when I got pregnant, I thought weight would be something I would not need to worry about and I could eat whatever I want and how much ever I felt like. But in my initial visits with my gynecologist told me how important my nutrition is for the growth and development of my baby – right from the time I was pregnant.
How does the mother’s nutrition impact the baby?
We moms have the power to literally feed our babies with IQ / Brainpower. This can be done through nutrition we provide them – during pregnancy, while breastfeeding, diet post weaning and some stimulating brain exercises. This put together is known as Feed IQ.
Research has shown that brain development of a child starts at conception and 90% of brain development happens until the age of 2. So, not eating a balanced diet during pregnancy as well as while nursing, and missing on important nutrients, in turn, affects our baby’s development – both mental as well as physical. Improper nutrition could affect the physical growth of the baby causing them to have delayed physical developmental milestones. Also, poor nutrition often results in loss of neurodevelopment potential thus hampering brain development.
Often there are many myths associated with nutrition during pregnancy – like you have to eat for 2, or you should always satisfy all your cravings, or if you have not put on enough weight during pregnancy, then your baby is not healthy. These myths often lead to incorrect nutrition which could impact your baby’s development. Check what the experts say about these myths and get your facts right.
How to ensure your nutritional intake is optimal?
These are some pointers that will help you with your nutrition needs during pregnancy and also on how to monitor optimal nutrition so as to keep you healthy as well as help with your baby’s brain development.
A balanced diet
Have a well-balanced diet that contains all food groups, including grains, fruits, vegetables, protein-rich foods, and dairy. Your diet should also contain the required amount of oils and fat. This will provide energy and support development of organs and placenta. Iron, folic acid, and calcium are important nutrients during pregnancy so make sure to include them in your diet.
Foods rich in iron
Some easily available iron-rich foods are – non-vegetarian foods like liver, red meat and shrimp, lentils like soya beans, kidney beans (rajma), black eyes peas (chowli) and chickpeas (chole), vegetables like spinach and beetroot, nuts like almonds, cashew, pine and peanuts, tofu, dates, and figs.
Foods rich in folic acid
Sources of folic acid include lentils, dried beans, peas, nuts, avocado, dark green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, collard or turnip greens, okra (bhindi), asparagus, citrus fruits and fresh juices.
Calcium-rich foods include dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt, beans, lentils, almonds chikoos and drumsticks.
Supplement your diet
Often due to morning sickness, heartburn or nausea it becomes difficult to consume certain foods. So make sure to supplement your diet with vitamin supplements recommended by your doctor. Also, there are some great supplements like SimMom IQ+ which are specially formulated to ensure nutrition during pregnancy which would be a good option.
Monitoring your health and nutrition is as important and here is how you should go about it
Get your blood work done
Make sure you periodically monitor your blood as well as any other tests recommended by your doctor. Make sure you take supplements regularly wherever there is a deficient
Make sure you monitor your weight
Monitoring your weight is also important. Too much weight gain or too less could both hamper your baby’s health.
Eating a well-balanced meal along with a healthy lifestyle makes sure your nutrition intake is helping you optimally.
Often due to the pressure by the uterus on the bladder, pregnant women need to pee more frequently. This often leads to subconsciously reducing the water intake. So make sure you remind yourself to hydrate at regular intervals.
Exercising is important during pregnancy. Keeping all the organs active helps in absorbing the nutrients in the body and keeping it healthy. So, consult your doctor on the best kind of exercise for you and make sure you follow it.
Getting enough sleep and rest makes sure your body functions at its best and thus it is again very important for your health as well as your baby’s.
A well-balanced diet, monitoring your health and some basic lifestyle inclusions are the key to making sure that your body receives the desired nutrition and can utilize it to the fullest. This is turn is one of the key requirements to your baby’s physical and mental development.