The diet of a pregnant woman must be varied and balanced because during pregnancy, eating a balanced diet helps to stimulate your immune system as well as that of your child. What to eat and how much when you are pregnant? Which foods to eat and which to avoid? Doctors on Healthlinerx answer you.
Why is it important to eat well during pregnancy?
Food during pregnancy not only strengthens the immune system of the mother as well as that of the child, to fight effectively against viruses and bacteria, but also to avoid deficiencies and to provide baby with everything it needs to grow well.
Prioritizing a healthy diet also helps reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, alleviate the ailments of pregnancy , and maintain control over the mother ‘s weight gain .
What are the risks of a poor diet when you are pregnant?
The mother’s immune system during pregnancy can be weakened. It is therefore essential to put in place the right reflexes to protect yourself from different pathologies.
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that first appears during pregnancy. It is characterized by a high sugar level which can have an impact on the health of the mother (gravid arterial hypertension and pre-eclampsia, abruption of the placenta, increased risk of caesarean section, or even recurrent diabetes during future pregnancies or even persistent after childbirth) as well as on the health of the child: excessive weight at birth (fetal macrosomia), premature delivery, fetal growth retardation, hypoglycemia , risk of developing type 2 diabetes or obesity infant later in life.
Doctors consider a birth to be premature when it takes place before the 37th week of pregnancy, and a premature delivery can have serious consequences for the infant. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in red meat would help women carry their pregnancy to term and in good conditions.
What foods to eat during pregnancy?
Eating healthy while having fun is not impossible, even if you are pregnant. Here are the recommended intakes during pregnancy and the foods to favor in order to have a balanced diet:
- meat , fish , eggs and milk , to fill up on protein;
- oils , seeds and oily fish provide lipids ;
- fresh fruits and vegetables for their high vitamin content ;
- legumes , oleaginous fruits and dark chocolate for their mineral intake .
Good to know: there are no forbidden fruits during pregnancy! So you can eat it every day. Keep in mind, however, that the fructose content of some fruits can quickly fill your daily sugar intake.. Finally, even if you are not pregnant but are planning to become pregnant, your doctor will prescribe folic acid (vitamin B9) even before conception.
Folic acid, also called folate, is essential for your baby’s growth and plays an important role in the healthy development of the embryo’s nervous system during the first few weeks. Folic acid can be found in fresh, canned or frozen fruits and vegetables (spinach, watercress, lamb’s lettuce, melon, walnuts, chickpeas, chestnuts, dandelion, yeast), but these intakes are insufficient for the proper development of the child. In the event of a baby project, your doctor or your midwife will therefore prescribe a vitamin B9 supplement if possible before conception (at least 4 weeks before) and up to 12 weeks of amenorrhea.
What are the foods to avoid during pregnancy?
Even if you love them, certain foods are forbidden during your pregnancy because of the risks they represent for your baby’s health.
It is a disease caused by the bacterium Listeria and whose mode of transmission is often food. In order to prevent listeriosis, it is important to avoid consuming the following foods during pregnancy: raw milk (unpasteurized), raw milk cheeses (unpasteurized) as well as those with a raw milk rind and all blue-veined cheeses; industrial grated cheese, sliced cheeses, cheese rinds; charcuterie in jelly and cut, foie gras, rillettes or pâté, but also charcuterie and raw or smoked meats; raw shellfish, raw or smoked fish (sushi, sashimi, etc.), fish eggs (tarama, surimi, etc.); Raw sprouted seeds (soya).
Also beware: this bacteria is resistant to freezing, so even frozen raw foods are not recommended.
It is also necessary to wash vegetables and herbs thoroughly, to cook foods of animal origin well and to recook well to boiling products purchased ready-to-eat deli type.
It is also important to store raw and cooked foods separately, to consume leftovers and reheated dishes quickly, to clean often and then disinfect the work surface and the refrigerator with white vinegar, and to wash your hands as often as possible.
This disease caused by a parasite present in the soil can be found on plants or meat. Hygiene is therefore essential to the prevention of toxoplasmosis. A blood test taken early in pregnancy can tell you whether or not you are immune to this disease.
If not, you should follow these tips:
- do not eat any raw meat (unless frozen for at least 20 days at -20°), cooking must be above 65°C;
- do not eat marinated, smoked, salted or grilled meat;
- avoid consuming raw mussels, oysters or any other molluscs;
- wash raw vegetables, lettuce, aromatic plants and fruit thoroughly in clear water (however, it is not necessary to use vinegar water);
- during meals away from home (at a restaurant or with friends), avoid eating raw vegetables and prefer cooked vegetables and well-cooked meat.
It is also necessary to wash your hands, kitchen utensils and work surfaces well before and after handling risky foods and to clean the refrigerator with white vinegar once a month. Good to know: the microwave oven does not destroy the parasite better than other cooking methods.
Finally, if you want to garden during your pregnancy, wear gloves to handle the soil or garden tools, but also to change the cat litter; it is also preferable to avoid all contact with cats during this period.
Other foods to avoid
It is also best to avoid consuming these foods during pregnancy:
- offal and liver , or liver-based products (pâtés, etc.);
- soy : too much soy can harm the proper development of your child because it contains phytoestrogens (plant hormones) suspected of being endocrine disruptors. It is therefore advisable not to consume more than one soy-based food per day during pregnancy and breastfeeding;
- all preparations based on raw or undercooked eggs (sauces, mayonnaise, chocolate mousse, tiramisu, etc.);
- products fortified with phytosterols and stanols, such as margarine;
- ultra-processed foods (rich in additives, preservatives, hidden fats and sugars);
- sweeteners ( especially aspartame).
- certain fish with a high content of toxic substances (mercury, methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, etc.) such as swordfish or shark;
- certain drinks, such as coffee and tea , should be limited (no more than 300 g of caffeine per day);
- alcohol is to be avoided throughout pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
Should I eat more during pregnancy?
It is normal and even necessary to gain weight when you are pregnant. On the other hand, it is not necessarily necessary to eat more: you can rather distribute your meals better over the day (5 snacks rather than 3 meals for example), or give yourself a healthy snack, which will allow you to calm your possible cravings until the evening meal.
The recommended weight gain depends on the woman’s weight before pregnancy, the presence of one or more children, and the presence or absence of pathology in the pregnant woman. Doctors recommend a weight gain of 9 to 12 kg on average during pregnancy because this would promote pregnancy and childbirth without complications as well as an easier return to the previous weight.
However, weight gain can differ from pregnancy to pregnancy and from woman to woman. Most of the weight gain is explained by all the transformations that take place in the woman’s body so that she can give birth to a child: what matters most for the pregnant woman is not to monitor the weight gained over the weeks but to have a balanced diet and to remain active within the limits of each woman’s possibilities. The doctor or midwife responsible for monitoring your pregnancy will suggest that you weigh yourself regularly in order to control your weight gain.
If you are overweight before the onset of pregnancy, medical monitoring is necessary due to a higher risk of gestational diabetes and/or hypertension . Similarly, it is strongly recommended not to practice self-medication and to seek medical advice before taking any food supplement .