Pregnancy diet is of crucial importance as a well balanced diet with rich and delicious food can provide the essential nutrients to the woman and her baby. A pregnant woman has to increase the intake of essential nutrients including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, mineral, iron, folic acid and calories. For proteins pregnant women can consume fish, egg whites, lean meat, poultry and beans among other food items.
Processed and canned fish should be avoided and fish from contaminated water sources or those with high mercury levels should also be avoided. Raw seafood including uncooked sushi and oysters should also be completely avoided. Carbohydrates can be obtained from food items such as rice, pasta, potatoes, vegetables and fruits. Calcium and iron are equally important in pregnancy diet and products such as cheese and yogurt can provide calcium while spinach is an excellent source of iron.
Cereals and lean red meat also provide iron. Citrus fruits are a rich source of Vitamin C while sweet potatoes and carrots along with dark leafy green vegetables can provide the essential quantity of Vitamin A. Folic Acid is particularly important for pregnant women and so it is always advisable to include green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts and peas in the pregnancy diet. Dairy products are a rich source of Vitamin D and meat and fish along with poultry products provide the essential amounts of Vitamin B12. For women following a vegetarian diet and lifestyle Vitamin B12 supplements often need to be prescribed.
Pork, bananas and ham are a source for Vitamin B6. Alcoholic drinks should be completely avoided during pregnancy as this can cause physical and emotional defects along with learning disabilities in the children. Consumption of caffeine should also be limited during pregnancy as this can increase the possibility of miscarriage. Caffeine also increases the possibility of low birth weight.
Supplements have a very important role to play in the pregnancy diet. Most women therefore need to take folic acid supplements together with multi vitamin, iron and calcium supplements. Folic acid is particularly important in the first three months of the pregnancy as this can help prevent any neural tube defects.
Women with lactose intolerance have to particularly incorporate calcium supplements in their pregnancy diet. Signs of lactose intolerance include diarrhea, gas or bloating after consumption of milk and milk products. Any supplements should be taken only as per the directions of the doctor. Any pregnancy diet should allow the woman to gain an appropriate amount of weight over a period of time as this is one of the positive signs of a completely healthy pregnancy.
A pregnant woman should ideally eat food every few hours in small meals or portions as this is essential for the continuous development of the baby and allows maintenance of the energy levels. Many women tend to have food cravings and these food items can be consumed as long as a healthy diet plan is being followed.
It is advisable to avoid consuming unpasteurized milk and cheese, raw eggs, raw and undercooked meat. Processed meat should be well cooked and while fish is extremely nutritious and provides omega 3 fatty acids consumption of this should be limited.