We are sharing advice from Lesia Sytnyk, Nutritionist at Leleka Maternity Hospital.
Good sleep quality, physical activity and a balanced diet depend on our choices and are a priority for health promotion and a well-functioning immune system.
Pregnancy and lactation are conditions which are accompanied by increased physiological requirements. Exclusion of certain food groups from the diet, skipping meals (especially breakfast) and chronic diseases causing poor absorption are risk factors for deficiency of calories and nutrients, in particular vitamin A, zinc, B vitamins (B1, B6, B12), vitamin E, ascorbic acid, iron, essential fatty acids, etc.
Particular attention should be paid to the formation of new types and habits of nutrition and the selection of appropriate food products to maintain the mother’s health and provide the baby with everything necessary for its growth and development.
Nutritional requirements depend on the individual characteristics, such as age, height, weight, gestational age, lifestyle and level of physical activity.
However, the basic principles of a healthy diet to promote health are common.
The daily diet during pregnancy includes: fruits, vegetables, legumes (lentils, beans, chickpeas), nuts, whole grains (buckwheat, oats, wheat, millet, quinoa, brown or unpolished rice), as well as lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products.
A healthy diet consists of two thirds of plant foods. One serving of vegetables and fruits is about 80 g. It is recommended to consume at least 5 servings per day, an average of at least 400 g (except for starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes).
It is recommended to consume one serving (100 g) of berries daily — blueberries, currants, blackberries. It is recommended to replace high-calorie foods, such as fatty and sweet processed foods (cakes, pastries, cookies) and made from refined white flour (bread, pasta, pizza, white rice), with low-calorie foods with high nutritional value. It is good to combine various, colourful vegetables (carrots, zucchini, pumpkin, bell peppers, asparagus, beets, white cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, Jerusalem artichoke, celery), as well as fruits and berries (fresh, frozen and dried).
Remember that half a cup of dried fruit is equivalent to a cup of fresh fruit. When dried fruit is consumed in large quantities, it is a source of excess calories and fructose. Give preference to unsaturated fats (in fish, avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil) over saturated fats (in fatty meats, butter, coconut, palm oil, cream, cheese, lard). Industrial hydrogenated fats (trans fats), which are found in fast food, frozen pizza, processed foods, cookies, sandwich mixtures, should be limited or excluded from the diet.
Nuts and seeds are sources of fibre, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Please bare in mind that they are high in calories; therefore, they should be consumed in moderation. One serving of nuts is 30 g (about ¼ cup).
It is recommended to consume 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil daily. Choose first cold pressing olive oil. Sesame, linseed and other unrefined oils are also useful in moderation. A healthy microbiome is essential for the immune system to function properly. The gastrointestinal tract contains the largest number of immunocompetent cells which are responsible for the resistance of the body.
You can also optimize your microbiome with nutrition. It is recommended to include in the diet fermented foods (pickled vegetables, yoghurt), and a sufficient amount of fibre (vegetables, fruits, berries, whole grains, seeds, nuts).
• Limit consumption of red meat and exclude sausages, foods with preservatives and flavours, excessive amount of salt and flavour enhancers;
• Avoid moldy grains (cereals) and moldy legumes;
• Avoid excessive sugar consumption — less than 10 % (5 %) of the total energy intake from free sugars is approximately 50 (25) g;
• Limit the intake of refined foods; choose simple, natural, nutritious and tasty foods.
Following the rules for food safety and food hygiene is an effective way to prevent diseases. Avoid high-risk foods which could be a potential source of pathogens (raw or undercooked eggs, home-made or unpreserved pates, raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish). Wash fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs thoroughly. Store food at appropriate temperature, reheat leftovers thoroughly, follow the personal hygiene rules, check the expiry date on the food packaging.
Food and life should be enjoyed!