Should you follow a diet plan when you are pregnant?

Should you follow a diet plan when you are pregnant?

During pregnancy, you’ll find people casually throwing around the phrase ‘eat for two’, implying that your appetite has to increase. Apart from that, you will come across plenty of friends and relatives offering plenty of nutrition tips. While all of those tips might not be true, there is no doubt that pregnancy demands certain special nutrients as well as additional nutrition! So, if you’re wondering if there’s any specific diet or a pregnancy food chart to be followed, then yes, you are right! This is the special phase requires you to pay special attention to what you consume.

Nutritional demands during pregnancy

Pregnant women usually need to consume an extra 350 calories per day, for her wellbeing as well as the sustenance of the foetus. During the first trimester, you will need an additional 0.5 gram of protein every day, which will increase to 6.9 grams in the second trimester, and will again increase to 22.7 grams in the third trimester.

Nutrients like folic acid and iron are essential to prevent foetal malformations and ensure the formation of red blood cells. You must also consume adequate calcium to keep osteoporosis at bay and ensure the development of strong bones and teeth in your baby.

Pregnancy diet plan

Early morning

While not completely true to its name, morning sickness can accompany the sunrise. A snack such as biscuits or plain toast just before getting out of bed can help. The B.R.A.T diet (banana, rice, apple sauce, and toast) is also useful for tackling nausea and vomiting.

Breakfast

As the name suggests, this meal breaks the fast that takes place over the night. So, it is crucial for expecting women to have breakfast every single day. A combination of whole grains and cereal, pulses or daal or egg, and fresh vegetables can make for a nutritious meal. Here are a few breakfast options:

  • Idli or rava idli or oats idli with sambar
  • Dosa or rava dosa or ragi dosa with daal -based chutney and sambar
  • Parathas stuffed with vegetables and served with curd
  • Multigrain chapathi with egg bhurji and vegetable curry
  • Poha or rava upma or broken wheat upma with curd and a side of vegetable salad

Mid-morning snack

Small, frequent meals should be consumed rather than 3 large meals, to tackle your hunger pangs as well as heartburn.

  • Fresh fruits
  • Sprouts or vegetable or fruit salad
  • Dry fruits
  • Roasted channa or peanuts
  • Buttermilk

Lunch

Make the most of lunch by having a balanced, nutritious meal. You can include chicken and fish once in a while but in moderation. Here is what you can eat.

  • Vegetable soup with whole wheat rotis with chicken or fish or daal curry or palak paneer
  • Rice with sambar, palya (vegetable curry) and curd
  • Ragi balls with vegetable sambar and a glass of buttermilk
  • Jowar (or any millet) roti with daal and vegetable curry
  • Vegetable khichdi with curd
  • Peas pulav with vegetable raita

Evening snacks

Fibre from fresh or dried fruits and vegetables and plenty of fluids can help deal with constipation, which is commonly seen during pregnancy. Here are a few good snack options.

  • Vegetable soups
  • Smoothies
  • Trail mix
  • Salads
  • Milk or coffee or tea (limit caffeine intake to 200 mg/day)

Dinner

Make sure you finish dinner at least 2 hours before bedtime and consume a relatively light meal. You can have a smaller portion of what has been suggested above for breakfast or lunch, for dinner.

Foods to eat during each trimester

Each trimester is characterized by certain developments of your little bundle of joy. So, it is vital that you eat foods that provide the nutrients relevant to that developmental aspect.

First trimester

Iron is the main nutrient needed to support the increase in maternal blood, and folate and vitamin B6 are required for the baby’s developing nervous system.

Iron-rich foods comprise lean cuts of red meat, poultry, fish, dried beans and peas, iron-fortified cereals, spinach, and prune juice. Always remember to pair iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes, for better absorption of iron.

Folate is present in dark green leafy vegetables (like spinach), beans and peas. Since folate and iron might not be derived sufficiently from foods, it might be necessary to take supplements during pregnancy. Chicken, fish, potato, whole grains, and eggs are good sources of vitamin B6. 

Second trimester

Vitamin D and calcium are crucial during this phase for strong bones, and omega-3 is required for brain development. Sunshine is your best bet for vitamin D, while calcium can be found in milk, paneer , curd or yoghurt. Fatty fish like rawas and ahi , flaxseeds and walnuts are excellent sources of omega-3.

Third trimester

Energy and vitamin K are needed to prepare you for birth.

You should incorporate more whole grain cereals, pulses, and dry fruits in your diet to boost your energy level. Vitamin K can be obtained from spinach, mustard greens, turnip greens, cauliflower and cabbage.

Last but not the least, while the dietary guidelines and the diet plan detailed here can function as a basic guide, a personalized diet plan might be necessary for pregnancy complications like high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. So, make sure you discuss your pregnancy diet with your healthcare provider or a qualified nutritionist before incorporating any change.