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Healthy eating for pregnant moms-to-be
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May 18, 2007

Pregnancy marks the beginning of a new chapter in the life of any woman.

During pregnancy, the mother-to-be is responsible for not only her health, but also that of the baby growing inside of her. Healthy eating habits during pregnancy not only prevent excess weight gain, they also ensure that the right mix of nutrients is available to the baby for proper growth and development.

1. 'Eating for two' is a no-no

The phrase 'eating for two' during pregnancy gives out a wrong message. During pregnancy, an additional intake of only about 300 kilocalories per day is required. This is equivalent to 1� glasses of milk, or a ladoo.

Poor nutrition or weight problems during pregnancy, on the other hand, can lead to a baby having low birth weight. Also, it has been found that overweight mothers are prone to obesity, heart trouble and diabetes during their later years. Babies born to obese mothers tend to become obese themselves, and perpetuate the cycle of these problems.

2. Necessary nutrients

During pregnancy, the protein intake in a mother-to-be's diet needs to be increased considerably, especially for mothers who are vegetarians. Vegetarian diets do not always allow for as much protein as is required for fetal tissue development.

Iron intake also needs to be pepped up when you are carrying a child, as an iron deficiency may lead to anaemia and fatigue in the mother, and to underweight babies. Usually an iron supplement has to be taken to fulfill the requirement during pregnancy. Raisins, rice flakes, jaggery, organ meat, dates and green leafy vegetables are rich sources of iron.

The body's need for calcium is high during pregnancy, as it is needed for the baby's bone and cartilage development. Consumption of three cups of milk or yoghurt per day would suffice a mother-to-be's daily calcium requirement.

Vitamin intake is also of the utmost importance. Vitamin C helps to enhance iron absorption and acts as an antioxidant that protects the mother's bodily tissues from destruction. Sources of Vitamin C are oranges, lemons, amla and guavas. Vitamin A is essential for the vision, immunity function and growth of the foetus. Sources are meat, eggs, dairy, carrots, beetroots, mangoes, and sweet potatoes.

A daily dose of 400 �gm of folic acid is required to prevent neural tube defects in the baby. A few herbs like ginger, saunf, methi and ajwain are also believed to to improve digestion and reduce nausea/ vomiting during pregnancy.

General tips

There is no standard diet for any pregnant mother-to-be, and consulting an expert can help you understand what suits your body system and lifestyle best. After all, these nine months are the beginning of a long journey, and precautions at this stage can smoothen the road ahead both for you and your baby.

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