Healthy Eating Faqs

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A healthy eating plan contains a wide variety of foods from the five basic food groups. Every day, you should try to eat:

6 or more servings of bread, cereal, rice, or chapatti.

One serving equals one slice of bread, 1 ounce of ready-to-eat cereal (about 1 cup of most cereals), or 1/2 cup of cooked cereal, rice, or pasta, or 1 chapatti. If you are physically active, you can eat more servings (up to 11 servings if you are very active).

3 to 5 servings of vegetables.

One serving equals 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables such as spinach, or 1/2 cup of chopped vegetables, cooked or raw.

2 to 4 servings of fruit.

One serving equals one medium piece of fruit like an apple, banana, or orange; 1/2 cup of chopped fresh, cooked, or canned fruit; 1/4 cup dried fruit; or 3/4 cup of 100-percent fruit juice.

2 servings of milk, curd, or cheese.

One serving equals 1 cup of milk or curd, 1 1/2 ounces of natural cheese. If you are 18 years or younger and
pregnant, you need at least 3 servings of milk, curd, and cheese. Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products most often.

2 to 3 servings of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, or nuts.

One serving equals 2 to 3 ounces of cooked meat, poultry, or fish-about the size of a deck of cards. Choose lean cuts and eat no more than 5 to 7 ounces of meat, poultry, or fish a day. One cup of cooked beans such as rajma, chole or 2 eggs count as a serving. 2/3 cup of nuts also equals a serving.

At least 8 glasses of water.

Drinking milk, 100-percent juice, and other non-alcoholic beverages counts toward your amount of daily water.

Eating the right number of calories lets you and your baby gain the proper amount of weight. During the first 3 months of your pregnancy, you do not need to change the number of calories you are eating.

Normal-weight women need an extra 300 calories each day during the last 6 months of pregnancy. This totals about 1,900 to 2,500 calories a day. If you were underweight, overweight, or obese before you became pregnant, or if you are pregnant with more than one baby, you may need a different number of calories. Talk to your dietitian about how much weight you should gain and how many calories you need.

Gaining a healthy amount of weight may help you have a more comfortable pregnancy and delivery. It also may help you have fewer pregnancy complications, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, constipation, and backaches.

Gaining too little weight during your pregnancy makes it hard for your baby to grow properly. Talk to your doctor if you feel you are not gaining enough weight.

If you gain too much weight, you are more likely to have a longer labor and more difficult delivery. Also, gaining a lot of extra body fat will make it harder for you to return to a normal weight after you have your baby. If you feel you are gaining too much weight during your pregnancy, talk with your doctor.

Do not try to lose weight if you are pregnant. If you do not eat enough calories or a variety of foods, your baby will not get the nutrients he or she needs to grow.

Talk to your doctor about how much weight you should gain during your pregnancy. General weight-gain recommendations listed below refer to pre-pregnancy weight and are for women expecting only one baby.

If you are: underweight    You should gain: about 12 to 18 Kgs
If you are: normal weight You should gain: about 11 to 16 Kgs
If you are: overweight You should gain: about 7 to 11 Kgs
If you are: obese You should gain: about 7 Kgs or less

Yes. During pregnancy, you and your growing baby need more of several nutrients. By eating the recommended number of daily servings from each of the five food groups, you should get most of the nutrients you need.

Be sure to include foods high in folate, such as orange juice, strawberries, spinach, broccoli, and beans (rajma, chole, dals). Or get it in a vitamin/mineral supplement.

To help prevent birth defects, you must get enough daily folate before as well as during pregnancy. Prenatal supplements contain folic acid (another form of folate). Look for a supplement that has at least 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) of folic acid.

Although most doctors recommend taking a multi-vitamin/mineral “prenatal” supplement before becoming pregnant, during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding, always talk to your doctor before taking any supplements.

Yes, you can continue a vegetarian-eating plan during pregnancy, but talk to your doctor first.

If you do not eat any animal foods, it may be difficult to get enough of important nutrients, including protein, iron, vitamin B12, and vitamin D.

Your doctor may ask you to meet with a dietitian who can help you to plan meals, and may also recommend that you take supplements.

Tips for healthy eating

  •  Meet the needs of your body and help avoid common discomforts of
    pregnancy by following these tips:
  •  Eat breakfast every day. If you feel sick to your stomach in the morning, choose dry whole- wheat toast or whole-grain biscuits when you first wake up-even before you get out of bed. Eat the rest of your breakfast (fruit, oatmeal, cereal, milk, curd, or other foods) later in the morning.
  •  Eat high-fiber foods. Eating whole-grain cereals, vegetables, fruits, beans, whole- wheat breads/chapattis, and brown rice, along with drinking plenty of water and getting daily physical activity, can help you prevent the constipation that many women have during pregnancy.
  • Keep healthy foods on hand. A fruit bowl filled with apples, bananas, peaches, oranges, and grapes makes it easy to grab a healthy snack.
  • If you have heartburn during your pregnancy, eat small meals more often, eat slowly, avoid spicy and fatty foods (such as chilles or fried chicken), drink beverages between meals instead of with meals, and do not lie down right after eating.

There are certain foods and beverages that can harm your baby if you eat or drink them while you are pregnant. Here is a general list of foods and beverages that you should avoid:

  •  Alcohol. Instead of wine, beer, or a mixed drink, enjoy apple cider, tomato juice, 100-percent juice mixed with sparkling water, or other non- alcoholic beverages.
  •  Fish that may have high levels of methylmercury (a substance that can build up in fish and harm an unborn baby). Do not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish during pregnancy. Eat no more than 12 ounces of any fish per week (equal to four 3-ounce servings-each about the size of a deck of cards).
  • Raw fish such as sushi, sashimi, or ceviche and raw or undercooked meat and poultry. These foods can contain harmful bacteria. Cook fish, meat, and poultry thoroughly before eating.
  •  Large amounts of caffeine-containing beverages. If you are a heavy coffee, tea, or soda drinker, talk to your doctor about whether you should cut back on caffeine.
  •  Anything that is not food. Some pregnant women may crave something that is not food, such as laundry starch or clay. Talk to your doctor if you crave something that is not food.

Ask your doctor for a complete list of foods and beverages that you should avoid.

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