It seems that today’s society has already overcome the false myth that a pregnant woman should eat for two. As Dr. Julio Maset, Cinfa’s doctor, clarifies , «it does not even mean that the pregnant woman should ingest larger amounts, but that she should do so in smaller amounts each time, but more frequently — six times a day — and trying to chew slowly. For the rest, like any other person who wants to take care of herself, the future mother has to eat in a varied and balanced way, including all the basic foods for her health and that of her son ”.
If diet is important for anyone, no matter how old they are, much more so in women when they get pregnant. Most of the disorders and discomforts typical of the gestation period – constipation, nausea, heartburn, high blood pressure … – can be prevented or reduced with adequate nutrition. In addition, the woman will be able to perceive that her vitality increases, while providing the fetus with the necessary nutrients for its correct development.
Ten tips for healthy eating:
- Eat more frequently and in a balanced way. It is not true that during pregnancy you should eat for two, but yes more times and in smaller portions. This will allow you to avoid fasting periods and low blood sugars: three main meals and two or three small doses a day facilitate the optimal use of glucose and the protection of the mother’s energy and protein reserves. In order that you and your baby receive the nutrients you need, make a varied diet according to the Mediterranean diet.
2. Include folic acid and iron in your diet. Folic acid is essential in the development of the baby’s central nervous system. You can find it in green leafy vegetables, cereals, eggs, oranges, legumes, and nuts. Regarding iron, it is necessary to avoid iron deficiency anemia -the most common nutritional deficiency during pregnancy-, and it is found in red meats, which you have to take completely made inside, cereals, legumes and nuts. Your midwife or gynecologist will probably recommend supplements of these elements.
- Moderate the consumption of salt and sugar. To avoid power surges, the salt you take should be iodized, except when there is a thyroid disorder, in which case, your midwife or gynecologist or endocrine will advise you. With sugar, the goal is to prevent weight gain above that due to pregnancy and to prevent gestational diabetes.
- Fruits, greens and vegetables, better fresh. When consuming them, the most important thing is the preparation: the damaged parts must be cut first and, later, wash them well under running water, even if they are to be peeled. If they are to be taken raw without peeling (including fresh aromatic plants), it is advisable to immerse them for five to ten minutes in a container of drinking water containing a few drops of bleach suitable for disinfecting drinking water. Then they must be rinsed with plenty of water.
- Dairy products, always pasteurized and eggs, well done. Remember that neither milk nor its derivatives should be ingested raw, due to the risk of listeria infection. Opt, preferably, for fermented dairy products such as yogurt, because, in addition, they contribute to repopulating the intestinal microbiota. Regarding eggs, they involve risk of salmonellosis, so you should avoid eating them raw or undercooked, so you should avoid homemade sauces and desserts that may contain them.
- Avoid undercooked meats and sausages. When cooking, meats should be completely done inside (not pink). Avoid carpaccios, marinades, precooked meats and prepared salads that contain chicken, ham … If the mother is not immunized against toxoplasmosis, sausages should be avoided, frozen for at least 10 days at -22ºC or previously cooked. Eating little of these foods does not reduce the risk.
- Be careful with fish. Avoid raw or almost raw seafood and smoked and marinated (sushi, sashimi, oysters, raw clams and scallops, ceviche, fish carpaccio, pickled anchovies, smoked salmon or trout), although you can eat seafood and smoked if canned, non-perishable, or cooked properly. It is also not recommended to consume large predatory species such as swordfish (emperor), shark (dogfish), mackerel, bluefin tuna and pike, as they may contain mercury. The rest of the fish and shellfish can be consumed after cooking sufficiently and, preferably, after being frozen for a minimum of four days, to avoid the risk of anisakis infections.
- When cooking, remember these five steps. Separate raw meat, eggs, and fish from other foods to avoid cross contamination; cool, both in the fridge and in the freezer; wash food, surfaces, kitchen utensils and your hands with hot soapy water after each preparation; cook foods on high heat; and discard expired products or products with no guarantees.
- Hydrate well. Drink enough liquid, about two liters a day; preferably water, natural juices or broths. Instead, it reduces the consumption of exciting substances such as tea and coffee, as well as energy and carbonated drinks, which can make digestion difficult.
- Don’t drink alcohol or smoke. Both are highly detrimental to your health and that of your baby, since they increase the risk of complications such as premature births, malformations or emotional and cognitive delays. Alcohol passes directly to your child through the placenta and no amount of it or tobacco is safe during pregnancy, no matter how low.