Pregnancy can be a catch-22. On one hand, you want a healthy diet for both you and your child. On the other, while pregnant you may have cravings that feel like a military attack on the very concept of healthy eating.
It’s never too late to plan a diet that meets both your needs and those of your baby. So what makes a healthy diet during pregnancy?
Now is not the time to be concerned about your weight. You will gain pounds during pregnancy; that is part of the package. Instead, focus on meeting your complete dietary needs. That means a varied diet made up of all the food groups.
Grains, including bread, supply carbohydrates – essential for energy during pregnancy. Stick to whole grains though – consuming highly processed bread (white bread or rolls) or other baked goods will spike your blood sugar and could be an invitation to gestational diabetes.
Fruits and vegetables
These supply valuable nutrients, necessary for building a strong baby – and for maintaining your own health while pregnant. You may have heard the phrase “eat the rainbow.” During your pregnancy is a great time to put that into action – consuming a wide spectrum of colors in your produce is a good way to know you’re getting a variety of nutrients that will keep you and your baby healthy. Make sure you wash all produce well.
Protein comes from meat, eggs, and fish, among other foods. Your baby needs plenty of protein during your pregnancy.
Dairy supplies valuable calcium, vital for the development of bones and teeth. If you are not eating foods with sufficient calcium, your baby will draw calcium from your own bones, which can lead to issues later in life, including osteoporosis.
Avoid Fatty Foods While Pregnant
It can be extremely important to avoid excess fats (especially bad fats) during this your pregnancy, thanks to new research from the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. Dr. Yuan-Xiang Pan, in the College’s Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, studied the impact of diet during pregnancy on offspring later in life, and his research is both unsettling and hopeful. He found that a high-fat diet during pregnancy may “program” the child’s genes for diabetes. The mother’s diet can have a profound effect on the child’s epigenome.
While the genome is the totality of an individual’s genetics, the epigenome is the expression of those genetic traits. Essentially, the mother’s diet may cause certain genes in the offspring to switch on or off, programming the child’s genetics for good health or bad.
“Research… has shown that the early-life environment, including nutrition, can program certain diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and even some cancers.”
– Science Daily
But what if you came to the healthy table late? If you are pregnant and find yourself gravitating to fatty food, this doesn’t mean your child is doomed to a future of health problems or that your child will develop a taste for fatty foods also. The University of Illinois’s research revealed a positive side to stacking the deck one way or another for your child: you may be able to re-program your child’s epigenome after birth. Feeding your child with healthy fats and a proper diet may switch the genes that lead to diabetes off, reducing the likelihood of the condition occurring later.
Talk to Your Doctor or a Nutritionist
Because diet is so important at this time, it’s wise to discuss diet with an expert in the field. A nutritionist can advise you on foods that satisfy you and supply the nutrients, protein, and energy your developing baby needs. The last thing you need is to stress about how your diet may affect your baby. After you have had your baby, you can start thinking about how to lose that extra weight.