What you choose to eat when you’re pregnant may influence you and your baby’s health now and for years to come and experts believe during pregnancy is a good time to review your nutrition.
By Nomuzi Mtunzi
Nutrionist Blessing Makedenge told The Standard Style that what mothers eat was what the unborn baby relies on.
“During pregnancy, your unborn baby gets all their nutrients from you. Healthy food choices before, during and after pregnancy help you stay healthy and well and your baby to grow healthy and strong,” she said.
Makedenge added; ”Healthy eating means following the food pyramid in meals, the pyramid consists of different foodstuffs. When it comes to foods, snacks and drinks that are high in fat or sugar, choose small amounts.”
The food nutrionist said among meats, fish and eggs, one should choose any of the three.
“When pregnant, eat one portion of oily fish and one portion of white fish each week. Low-fat options are best. Fruit and vegetables are okay, but eat green leafy vegetables and citrus fruit frequently. Bread, cereals and potatoes should be eaten because each meal with high fibre is the best,” she said.
Makedenge pointed out that during pregnancy, the body needs extra vitamins, minerals and nutrients to help the baby develop.
“The best way of getting most of these vitamins is through your diet. When you’re pregnant, hormonal changes in your body lower your immune system, which can make it harder to fight off illness and infection. Preventing food-borne illness and protecting yourself from other food risks during pregnancy is extremely important,” she said.
She said drinking alcohol during pregnancy leads to miscarriages, stillbirths, premature births or the baby could be born with foetal alcohol syndrome that impaires growth.
Health experts say small amounts of caffeine are safe during pregnancy, but excessive volumes may increase the risk of miscarriage and premature birth. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, cola and some other soft drinks and energy drinks.
Makedenge noted that by eating the recommended amounts from the five food groups and limiting the foods that are high in saturated fat, added sugars and added salt, one would be getting enough of the nutrients essential for good health.
“You may reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type two diabetes, obesity and some cancers. You may also feel better, look better, enjoy life more and live longer,” she said.