Diets for Pregnant Women
What to eat during pregnancy? Is it necessary to be on a diet during pregnancy? Why is it important to take care of your diet if you are pregnant?
Following a diet for pregnant women during pregnancy is essential to feel good, especially because it depends on us that our baby receives all the nutrients necessary to grow healthy and strong.
Because our nutritional needs and those of our little one change as pregnancy progresses, taking care of our diet and following a diet with a menu specially focused on our state will help us achieve a better distribution of calories and maintain the extra energy level we need.
Many moms feel sick, dizzy, and tired during pregnancy because they don’t eat a good diet and don’t eat what they need during this time.
For this reason, it is essential that we keep track of our diet during pregnancy, the type of food we eat and, above all, the amount in which we eat it. If so far you don’t think you’re eating well enough, now is the perfect time to make sure your diet is more nutritious and balanced by following diets for pregnant women.
Pregnancy Diets: Are They Necessary or Is It a Myth?
It is very common for all pregnant women to hear that we must now eat for two, but eating healthy throughout our pregnancy does not mean that we should eat more, but rather eat well and take care of ourselves for two.
That is to say, to follow some of the diets for pregnant women that include all the food groups that we need in reasonable portions.
In order to adapt our diet to this important stage of our lives, most pregnant women need to increase the proteins we normally consume, certain vitamins such as folic acid and minerals such as iron, as well as the consumption of extra calories for more energy.
A good diet during pregnancy helps you feel good, avoid the typical discomforts of pregnancy and a better development of the baby.
It is estimated that diets for pregnant women should contain between 1,800 and 2,000 kcal per day, so that the baby grows properly and we get the energy we need, but this should not be formed by any type of food, in fact specialists recommend that each dish is divided into the following proportions:
- 15% protein
- 25 – 30% fat
- 50 – 55% carbohydrates
During pregnancy does not mean that we should eat more, but rather eat well and take care of ourselves for two.
Pregnant women need to eat a few extra calories for more energy.
How many calories to increase during pregnancy?
It is clear that during our pregnancy we need more calories but: How many more calories?
According to UNICEF, you need to add about 300-475 more calories per day, but this will always vary depending on your pregnancy and the stage you’re in.
- If we already have the right weight at the beginning of our pregnancy, we won’t need a lot of extra calories during the first trimester.
- For the second trimester, we only need to add 340 more calories per day to meet our baby’s needs.
- For the last trimester, an additional 450 calories are recommended.
It is estimated that about 300 extra calories are needed during pregnancy.
In any case, it will be our doctor who can best tell us what the weight gain is and how many extra calories we really need each day.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), having insufficient weight gain during pregnancy due to an inadequate diet increases the risk of premature birth, low birth weight and birth defects.
Normally a person consumes 1,500 calories a day and during pregnancy you should have 300 or 400 extra calories.
Each body is different, consult your doctor to find out which diet you really need for your case.
What should weight gain in pregnancy be like?
Weight gain during pregnancy is of great importance during pregnancy, because if it is not adequate, it increases the risk of maternal obesity, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and low birth weight of the baby.
According to UNICEF, not all women should gain weight in the same way during pregnancy, but none should lose weight.
Pregnant women are usually advised to increase by one to one and a half kilograms per month, but this weight gain varies from woman to woman.
Ideally, you should gain between 9 and 12 kg on average throughout your pregnancy. However, many pregnant women find it difficult to control this, because there are pregnancies in which nausea prevents them from eating what they need so much, while in others the sudden appetite causes them to eat too much.
The ideal weight gain will depend on the initial weight of each pregnant woman, because in cases of overweight it will be recommended less kilograms and in cases of underweight it is recommended to gain something more to prevent the baby has a low weight or training problems at birth.
- Underweight: Between 12 and 18 kilos throughout pregnancy.
- Weight according to your Body Mass Index (BMI): From 11 to 15 kilos during gestation.
- Overweight women: From 6.5 to 11 kilos throughout the pregnancy.
- Obese women: About 7 kilos during pregnancy.
- Women pregnant with twins: Between 15.5 and 20 kilos total weight.
When there is malnutrition, experts recommend that the weight gain be between 15 and 16 kilos.
What food groups should be present in pregnant diets?
- Pregnancy is the ideal time to adopt healthy habits and take more care of our diet. During this important stage, we should eat a little of everything but in the right amounts, that is, follow diets for pregnant women that are balanced and contain all the food groups that are there.
- For WHO, a healthy diet during pregnancy is one that contains an adequate amount of energy, protein, vitamins and minerals through the consumption of various foods, including vegetables, meat, fish, legumes, nuts, whole grains and fruit.
- Pregnancy is the perfect opportunity to adopt healthier habits and achieve a healthier diet.
- Foods are divided into three main groups: carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
- Next we will indicate you which are and the foods that conform it.
Carbohydrates or carbohydrates
- Our bodies use carbohydrates to get the energy we need to move around and do our daily activities. Vegetables, fruits, grains and cereals all belong to this food group but are further divided into two types: simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. The first ones pass quickly to the blood because they are already refined and you get them in sugars and white flours, so their consumption should be moderate.
- The most recommended during pregnancy are complex carbohydrates (vegetables and whole grains) , since they need more time to be digested and do not raise blood sugar levels so quickly. They are also healthier because they contain vitamins and minerals (pasta, bread, rice, potato).
- Proteins are extremely important for forming new bones and tissues and regenerating existing ones. This means that in order for our baby to grow well, there must be a source of protein in each of our meals. They can be found in foods such as meat, fish, legumes, cheese, tofu, seitan or eggs and dairy products.
- According to the Guía Práctica de la Alimentación de la Embarazada of the Ministry of Health of the Dominican Republic, the protein requirement also increases in gestation, and is intended primarily for the formation of fetal tissues. It is recommended to consume an additional 25 – 30 grams of protein per day.
- Fats are just as necessary as the rest of the food groups, because your baby also needs them to develop, just as you need them to stay healthy.
- However, we must be more careful with this group, because they tend to have more calories and cause excess weight. Everything depends on their origin. The healthiest will always be those whose origin comes from vegetables such as olive oil, nuts and blue fish.
Avoid salty snacks, carbonated beverages, chocolates, sweets, slushies, ice creams, mantecados etc.
- Whole grain cereals and starches: Breakfast cereals (oats, barley, corn, wheat, and their derivatives such as flour, starches), tortillas, breads (two slices of bread a day), rice, pasta (whole grain preferably). Biscuits salted or high in fiber.
- Grains or legumes: Dried peas, chickpeas, lentils, beans, etc.
- Vegetables: All types of vegetables are recommended, especially those with green leaves and also those with yellow, red and orange colours. It is essential to ensure that you
choose as much variety as possible (Two dishes a day).
- Fruits: All kinds of fruits, especially those with a high vitamin C content such as strawberries, oranges, grapefruit, etc. The ideal is to consume them between meals and raw, because they conserve the fiber better. (Two or three times a day)
- Dairy: Milk, variety of cheese and yogurt (preferably skimmed). This food group provides calcium, phosphorus and proteins of very good nutritional quality. (Two glasses of milk a day)
- Proteins: Chicken, meat, fish, eggs. Seafood, pigs, goats, edible chicken eggs, quail, ostrich. Meats are an important source of highly absorbed iron (heminic iron), as well as zinc. (Once or twice a day)
- Oils, dried fruits, seeds and fats: Vegetable oils such as olive oil, almond oil or coconut oil. Avocado, butter, light mayonnaise, among others. (Animal fats are not recommended).
- Sugars and Sweets: This food group consists of all sweets (ice cream, desserts, sweets, etc.) and table sugar. Its consumption is not necessary to have an adequate diet; however, if consumed in a moderate and occasional way in a healthy diet, it does not represent any problem.
It is of utmost importance that at least one food of each group is consumed per day (in adequate amounts) so that the diet is complete, and that foods are alternated within each group so that it is also varied.
What about sweets? Are they allowed during pregnancy?
All sweet desserts belong to the group of simple or refined carbohydrates, and therefore tend to have many more calories and few vitamins and minerals. Therefore, consumption is always discouraged.
It’s easy to fall for snacks and treats but they won’t help you feel better.
However, there is no problem if you consume them in moderation.
But if you are one of those who do not resist sweet flavors, we recommend you try a healthier option, for example, if you take a defatted frozen yogurt you will get the same satisfaction that gives you a regular ice cream, and the most important thing is that it will be with fewer calories.
Sweets should be consumed sporadically and oils and sugars in a controlled manner.
Because each stage of our pregnancy requires meeting specific nutritional needs at both the micronutrient and energy levels.
Here are some examples of menus according to the needs of each trimester of pregnancy and according to the idea that every pregnant woman should have about five meals a day (breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, snack and dinner) to maintain the balance of food groups throughout the day.
Let’s look at a sample menu for the first trimester of pregnancy:
- Breakfast: A fruit juice (your choice), a glass of semi-skimmed milk with a little decaffeinated coffee or cocoa and two slices of whole wheat toast with a little olive or coconut oil.
- Mid-morning snack: A whole fruit of your choice and a cereal bar.
- Lunch: Rice salad with olives, hard-boiled egg, capers and carrot pieces with a grilled chicken breast. To finish off a skimmed yogurt.
- Snack: A glass of liquid skimmed yogurt accompanied by three whole-wheat biscuits
- Dinner: A tomato salad with a spinach omelet and chamomile tea.
- Before going to sleep: Half a banana with a glass of semi-skimmed milk.
Let’s look at a sample menu for the second trimester of pregnancy
- Breakfast: A delicious grilled croissant with a little margarine, a kiwi and a glass of semi-skimmed milk with a little decaffeinated coffee or cocoa.
- Mid-morning snack: Dried fruit and a whole fruit (of your preference)
- Lunch: Mixed chicken salad with a zucchini tortilla and yogurt.
- Snack: Tropical fruit shake with pineapple, kiwi and avocado.
- Dinner: A light noodle soup with grilled hake medallions. At the end of a tea.
- Before bed: Three biscuits and a glass of semi-skimmed milk
Let’s see a sample menu for the third trimester of pregnancy
- Breakfast: Crepes with jam and a little sugar, with a vitaminic natural orange juice, plus a glass of semi-skimmed milk with decaffeinated coffee or cocoa.
- Mid-morning snack: A cereal bar and a fruit of your choice.
- Lunch: A plate of spaghetti with pesto vegetables, accompanied by a grilled turkey filet and a piece of pineapple.
- Snack: Apple compote with a little nuts.
- Dinner: A delicious spinach roll with baked feta cheese and tea at the end.
- Before going to sleep: Half a banana with a glass of semi-skimmed milk.
It is recommended to consume once or twice a week beans, lentils and chickpeas, as they are excellent sources of protein.
Key Recommendations for Eating Well During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is an ideal time to start eating a healthier diet, so it is essential to follow diets for pregnant women that are varied and balanced throughout pregnancy. UNICEF, Argentina’s Ministry of Health, and Spain’s Agencia Española de Consumo, Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición offer some simple guidelines and recommendations to achieve this:
- Breakfast every day: It is essential that you have breakfast every day to cut the long nightly fast and receive the energy you need to perform daily activities.
- Limit caffeine consumption: Caffeine is not forbidden during pregnancy, but it is important to regulate its consumption. Try not to exceed 200 milligrams of caffeine a day, i.e. 1.5 cups of coffee. (Not too loaded and decaffeinated)
- Have 4 to 5 meals a day: Eat a full breakfast (made up of dairy products, fruits and cereals), a light snack, a light meal, and dinner (you can have a fruit or dairy before going to bed) and avoid snacking between meals.
- Snacks should include foods such as fruits, fruit smoothies with milk or yogurt, milk desserts (rice pudding, creams), or yogurt (with fruits or cereals).
- Avoid unsafe foods: raw fish (sushi, seafood ceviche), unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses, raw meats or undercooked poultry.
- Eat fish 3-4 times a week (especially blue fish), as it provides omega-3 fatty acids and other essential nutrients necessary for the proper development of the foetus.
- Drink at least 2.3 liters of water a day (8-10 glasses). Food also gives you water.
- Consume fried foods as well as fats and sugars in moderation. Desserts shouldn’t be in your diet, but if you eat them in moderation, they won’t hurt your baby.
- Increases vitamins such as 0.4 mg/day of folic acid and vitamin C by 13%, the latter helps the absorption of iron.
Avoids symptoms that may result from feeding
Did you know that balanced diets for pregnant women can reduce pregnancy symptoms? Discomfort such as dizziness, nausea, heartburn and constipation, are closely related to food, in fact it is recommended to follow certain guidelines to reduce its appearance and incidence so common at this stage.
They occur throughout pregnancy, especially in the mornings. What to do?
- Eat something before getting out of bed (such as crackers or toast).
- Eat lightly but frequently, 6 to 7 times a day.
- Avoid caffeine-containing beverages such as tea, coffee, and cola.
- Eat foods that contain carbohydrates at all meals. It can be bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, legumes, cereals or fruit.
Nausea and vomiting
Follow the same recommendations as above. If they still persist:
- Drink infusions of mint, cumin or pineapple juice.
- Include potatoes, pasta or rice with a little olive oil at dinner.
- Choose vegetables that are easy to digest: zucchini, pumpkin, carrot and green bean.
- Avoid fatty meats and sausages.
- Don’t eat citrus fruits like orange juice.
- Drink yogurt or cheese, but avoid drinking milk.
- Don’t eat buns or any other dessert.
- Avoid raw food and cook in boiled, steam, microwave.
It’s very common after the second trimester of pregnancy. Increase the fiber!
- Drink water, tea or broth. Make it 2 liters a day in total.
- Walk and do some physical activity.
- Increase the consumption of vegetable foods in all meals.
- Increase whole-grain foods in bread, pasta, rice, every day.
- Put linseed in salads, purées or yoghurt.
- Cooking with crude olive oil.
- Take bifido-bacteria yogurt.
Heartburn or reflux
They usually appear when the baby is older and begins to compress the stomach.
- Avoid fruit on an empty stomach or for dessert.
- Avoid acidic and spicy foods: vinegar, lemon, paprika, etc.
- Avoid caffeinated beverages.
- Decreases whole grain or high fiber foods
- Regulates olive oil consumption
- Avoid going more than 3 hours without eating any food.
Pregnancy diets can help you fight them.
- Eat foods rich in B vitamins, such as cereals, legumes, meat, fish, eggs, or dairy products.
- Increases intake of magnesium-rich foods such as nuts, legumes, dried fruits, bananas, or leafy green vegetables (spinach, chard).
To reconcile and improve the quality of sleep you can:
- Early and light dinner. Ideally, it should be 2 hours before bedtime.
- Eat foods that provide tryptophan: eggs, chicken, ham or oily fish.
- Drink a glass of hot milk before going to bed.
- Avoid as much as possible coffee, chocolate, tea, cola drinks, mate, guarana and ginseng.
Although everything related to nutrition seems a little complicated to you, the truth is that it is a very simple habit that with practice you end up doing almost without realizing it.
Remember that just by following these tips, you will be following a healthy and balanced diet, your weight will be better controlled and both your body and your baby’s will receive all the nutrients they need.
If you are one of those who have so much trouble keeping track of their diet, do not worry, there is always something you can do, for this case you must follow diets for healthy and balanced pregnant women.
You’ll see how following pregnancy diets will make you feel better, so much so, that you’ll want to continue eating like this after holding your baby in your arms!
If you have any questions, please consult your doctor.