Your Diet During an Active (or Inactive) Pregnancy

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Apr 1, 2015

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Newsflash: A balanced diet and regular exercise lead to a healthier life!

While this probably isn’t news to you, what may be surprising is that this is true even during pregnancy. Exercise and a healthy pregnancy diet work together to:

  • Help your baby develop: Critical nutrients get to your baby more efficiently
  • Give you more energy: It will be a long nine months
  • Keep you strong: For all that pushing you’re about to do
  • Put you in a good mood: You’ll be less likely to indulge in unhealthy “comfort” food

As you exercise, eat normally and listen to your body. If you’re hungry, eat—it likely means you need calories to make up for those you have burned.

In fact, diet only becomes an issue if you are aren’t active during your pregnancy. Inactivity increases the likelihood of eating too much and gaining too much weight – which can be just as risky as gaining too little. If you aren’t exercising regularly – whether because of your lifestyle, or because you’ve been assigned to bed rest – avoid foods high in anything: sodium, fat, or sugar. These foods, without exercise, contribute to excessive weight gain (more than 16 kg), which can put you at risk for complications like high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, and an overall difficult birth. Focus on eating a balanced diet full of protein, grain, fruits and raw vegetables. (For more information on a healthy pregnancy diet, see this article.)

Less critically, low fitness and a poor pregnancy diet just make for an uncomfortable nine months. It makes food digestion more difficult, causing acidity and constipation. If you’re experiencing either of these problems, try making the following changes to your diet.

For acidity:

  • Eat small, frequent meals instead of a few, large ones
  • Avoid spicy, fried, or rich foods

For constipation:

  • Drink more fluids
  • Eat foods that are high in dietary fiber and work as natural laxatives, like whole grain cereals, whole pulses, fruits, and leafy vegetables. Certain dried fruit, like figs or raisins, and walnuts can be helpful. Even freshly powdered spices and herbs are a good source of fiber. These include the seeds from cumin, coriander, fenugreek, flax, fennel, and garden cress, as well as fresh coconut, cardamom, and cloves.

Ultimately, the rules of life don’t change when you’re pregnant; if anything, it just becomes more important to exercise and eat nutritiously. For more information on exercise during pregnancy, see this post by fitness expert Neville Wadia.

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Written By Dr. Ratnaraje Krishna Thar

Dr. Ratnaraje Krishna Thar, PhD, MSc. MPhil Foods Nutrition and Dietetics, is a nutritionist with a strong academic and research background, and twenty five years of experience in nutrition. She has presented research papers at national and international level, and has been active in community nutrition projects in Mumbai as well as rural and tribal areas of Maharashtra. She currently serves as faculty at Sophia Women’s Research Centre, a Nutritionist at Natural Health Centre for Better Health in Mumbai, a consultant with the Bay View Advisory Services Team and Shrimati Malati Dahanukar Trust, and handles clinical cases. She is currently working on developing a Nutrition app that will provide easy access to basic nutrition information.

See all articles by Dr. Ratnaraje Krishna

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