A nutritious diet and an active life are essential parts of a healthy lifestyle. This becomes even more vital when you are an expecting mum. However, early pregnancy is marked by several changes as well as food cravings and aversions, and you may be confused about the right diet during first trimester of pregnancy.
Here is a simple guide on nutrition during first trimester that helps you maintain a good weight, eat healthy food and avoid some edibles.
Nutrition During First Trimester
Eating a balanced diet during first trimester of pregnancy helps you get most of the nutrients, vitamins, calcium and minerals essential for you and your baby’s growth. But morning sickness, digestion problems and acid reflux may make it difficult for you to keep the food down. For this, the United Kingdom National Health Service suggests eating 5 small meals a day instead of 3 heavy meals.
Here are the bests foods you should include in your pregnancy diet for the first three months:
Include lots of whole grains in your diet for first trimester of pregnancy. Whole grains provide fibre, nutrients and proteins to help you relieve the problem of constipation in pregnancy and avoid the risk of haemorrhoids.
You can choose multigrain or wholegrain foods, such as:
- Wholemeal bread
- Brown rice
- Wheat berries
- Quinoa and other foods items that fill you up and provide more fibre and nutrients.
Eat plenty of vegetables as a part of your diet for first trimester of pregnancy. Vegetables provide lots of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and fibre that helps in digestion and prevents constipation in pregnancy.
Include vegetables of different colours and leafy greens to supplement your nutrition during first trimester. Get iron, vitamins A, B, C, E, K, folic acid, biotin, potassium and other minerals essential or your pre-natal nutrition.
Eat a minimum of 5 servings of vegetables a day. Each portion includes 80g of vegetables, states www.nhs.uk/. You can eat fresh, canned or frozen vegetables. Rich in folic acid, vegetables provide
You can add:
- Asparagus and other greens
If you do not like to eat cooked vegetables, try salads or raw vegetables, such as:
- Sweet potatoes and other sweeter vegetables
You can also eat vegetable soups or stews or vegetable sticks.
Supplement your diet during first trimester of pregnancy with fresh fruits to obtain fibre, minerals and vitamins essential for good health. Minerals, such as copper and potassium, and vitamins, such as B, folate, C, E and K ease leg cramps and alleviate morning sickness in pregnancy.
You can add up:
Studies show that it is best to eat fruits than drink juices because fresh fruits provide fibre and have low sugar levels compared to fruit juice. According to the UK NHS, each portion of fruit is equal to 80g of fresh, frozen or canned fruit.
As a part of your nutrition during first trimester of pregnancy, consume extra calcium, and to support the growth of your baby. Dairy products have high-quality proteins (casein and whey) in addition to B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc.
Consume dairy products, such as:
Some dairy products have certain probiotic bacteria that support digestion and are beneficial for your digestive system. So, consume plenty of dairy products. If you are lactose intolerant, you can try probiotic yoghurt and its varieties.
Legumes are agriculturally grown plant-based beans, peas, lentils and seeds. Legumes are rich in iron, fibre, folate, protein, calcium, magnesium, potassium and other vitamins and minerals. As a part of your diet for first trimester of pregnancy, you need to eat legumes every day to get the recommended daily requirement of folate. You must get 600mcg of folate (B9 vitamin) to support your baby’s health during the first three months.
Supplement your food with a minimum of 80g of:
- Kidney beans
- Dried beans
- Black beans and other products
Nuts and seeds
Remember to eat a handful of nuts, seeds and dried fruits every day to get sufficient calories essential for supporting the pregnancy. Consume at least one serving of nuts and seeds a day. Each serving must be of 30g.
You can include:
These nuts and seeds strengthen your uterus muscles, provide protein, reduce constipation and benefit you in several ways.
Protein is essential for building your cells and plays a vital role in your baby’s development. So, increase the intake of protein-rich food in your diet for first trimester of pregnancy. You can eat:
- Beans- soybeans, kidney beans, black beans
- Pulses – boiled
- Fish (salmon, mackerel or sardines) – not more than 2 portions a week
- Lean meat – chicken, pork or turkey but avoid liver
- Eggs – excellent protein source, but avoid eating raw and undercooked eggs
What to Avoid Eating During First Trimester of Pregnancy
As it is essential to include rainbow colour fruits and vegetables in your pregnancy diet, you must avoid unhealthy foods during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Avoid the following foods for a safe and healthy gestation: Food with high mercury levels:
Avoid food that has high mercury levels in it. Mercury is a toxic element that can damage your nervous system, brain development, immune system, kidney and lung function. It also affects hearing and vision abilities.
Do not eat:
- Tuna (bigeye tuna)
- King mackerel
Organ meat provides loads of nutrients and vitamins that are good for your baby’s growth. However, too much of animal-based vitamin A in the first trimester of pregnancy may result in miscarriage and congenital malformations.
Undercooked and unwashed food:
Do not eat unwashed and unpeeled fruits and vegetables during your gestation period as it may be polluted with several bacteria, such as Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli. Also, avoid undercooked or uncooked food to reduce the risk of contamination, infection and pathogens in food.
Unpasteurized cheese and milk:
Avoid unpasteurized milk, juice and soft mould-ripened cheese. Eating Brie, Camembert, or blue-veined cheese types may cause listeria infection that may be dangerous to expecting moms and their babies.
Smoking and drinking:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US, pregnant women who smoke are at risk of miscarriage than women who do not smoke. Also, smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of birth defects, such as cleft palate/ cleft lip, underweight babies, premature birth and stillbirth.
Also, drinking alcohol during pregnancy increases the probability of stillbirth and miscarriage and affects normal brain development in babies.
Processed or junk food:
You need to consume fresh and nutrition-dense food for a healthy gestation. Therefore, you must avert processed junk food in pregnancy. Processed foods are high in unhealthy fats, sugars and empty calories that may lead to excess weight gain and the threat of gestational diabetes and birth complications.
Though eating salads is the right choice in your gestation period, raw sprouts may be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria. Therefore, the FDA recommends not to eat raw sprouts. You can eat them after they are cooked.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises expecting moms to curb their caffeine consumption to less 200mg per day. This is because caffeine can be easily absorbed and passed into the placenta. This may interfere with foetal growth and result in low birth weight.
So, it is not only important to eat a healthy diet for first trimester of pregnancy but also to avoid foods that are unhealthy for you and your unborn.