Nine principles for 9 months

May 23rd, 2006

Following this diet can better the chances of a normal birth weight, improve foetal brain development and reduce risk of certain birth defects. It also increases the chances of a safe and comfortable pregnancy.

Nine principles for 9 months

1. Every bite counts: If the food you have chosen does not measure up nutritionally, it should be something you truly enjoy.

2. All calories are not created equal: Choose quality over quantity. Those 100 calories in 10 potato chips are not equal to the 100 calories in a baked potato served in its skin. Your baby will benefit from nutrient-rich calories, rather than empty ones.

3. Starve yourself, starve the baby: Don’t skip meals. Eating regularly is the road to a well-nourished foetus.

4. Efficiency is effective: Choose lean meats over fatty ones, fat-free milk or low fat milk and dairy products over full-fat, broiled foods over fried. Spread butter lightly on toast, use a teaspoon (not a tablespoon) of olive oil to sauté. To start tipping the scale towards healthier weight gain, choose foods that are dense in nutrients — avocados, nuts and dry fruit.

5. Carbohydrates are a complex issue: Don’t drop carbohydrates from your diet thinking you will gain weight. Unlike simple carbs — white bread, rice and pav — complex carbs — brown rice, fresh fruit, dried beans and peas — supply essential B vitamins, trace minerals, protein and fibre. Since they are filling, but not fattening they keep your weight in check. Recent research suggests eating plenty of fibre may reduce risk of gestational diabetes.

6. Sweet nothings are exactly that: Sugar calories are empty calories and add up quickly, leaving less room for nutritionally substantial calories. For delicious and nutritious sweetness, substitute fruit (ground dates, dried apricots, raisins) and fruit juice concentrates for sugar.

7. Keep it raw: If your carrots have not seen their native fields for months — having been boiled, processed and preserved — they may not have much natural goodness left to offer you or your baby. Choose fruits and vegetables when they are in season, have been fresh-frozen or unadulterated-canned. Try to eat raw vegetables every day. While cooking veggies, microwave, steam or stir-fry lightly so they will retain their vitamins and minerals.

8. Family affair: Get the whole household to eat healthy with you, otherwise you will have a harder time doing so alone. In addition to a healthier baby and a slimmer you, there will be a postpartum bonus of a family with improved eating habits.

9. Bad habits can sabotage a good diet: The best prenatal diet in the world is easily undermined if the expectant mother does not eliminate alcohol, tobacco and unsafe drugs from her life.

What to avoid

• No level of alcohol consumption is considered safe during pregnancy.
• Though many doctors feel one or two cups of coffee, tea or soda per day won’t harm your baby, it’s wise to avoid caffeine altogether. High caffeine consumption has been linked to increased risk of miscarriage.
• Soft, unpasteurised cheeses (often advertised as “fresh”).
• Unpasteurised milk and juices.
• Raw eggs, foods containing raw eggs.
• Raw or undercooked meats, fish, or shellfish.
• Processed meats in hot dogs, deli meats.
• Shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish may contain high levels of mercury, which can damage the developing brain of a foetus.





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