Pregnancy is one of the most important periods in a woman’s life. Her body undergoes many changes, while it acquires special dietary needs. The diet followed by a pregnant woman is an important factor that affects both her health and that of the fetus; thus by adopting a balanced diet, we can ensure a smooth course during pregnancy, as well as the proper development of the fetus and later on of the child during his early years.
Why should you choose the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet is a healthy and balanced dietary pattern. Its major characteristics are an increased intake of foods rich in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables, olive oil and fish. Furthermore, it includes several food groups that can be consumed in various combinations. Therefore, the Mediterranean diet can contribute to a healthy weight during pregnancy, as well as it can protect both the mother and the fetus from various pathological conditions.
Many studies have highlighted the protective role of the Mediterranean diet against the occurrence of gestational diabetes, hypertension and pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. Moreover, the adoption of the Mediterranean diet during pregnancy seems to prospectively protect children from the occurrence of asthma and allergies in early childhood.
Nutrition tips during pregnancy:
- The expecting mother should avoid eating “for two”, although they will necessarily slightly increase their portion size (especially during the 2nd and 3rd trimester). She should also increase the number of meals consumed during the day (at least 5 meals a day: 3 main meals and 2 snacks). However, it is particularly important to consume a small snack before bedtime, as to avoid possible hypoglycemia until the consumption of the next meal, i.e. breakfast.
- Nutrition during pregnancy should be balanced and include a variety of foods. For this reason, each meal should contain adequate amounts of carbohydrates, protein and fat, as well as a large number of vitamins and minerals (with particular emphasis on iron, iodine, calcium and phosphorus).
- With regards to food groups, the expecting mother is recommended to consume:
- 4-6 servings of grains per day (preferably whole-wheat)
- 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables per day
- 3-4 servings of dairy per day (preferably low-fat)
- 2,5 servings of protein foods per day
- 1-2 servings of nuts per day
- Choose olive oil both as dressing and during cooking, since it is rich in omega-6 fatty acids, that contribute to important hormone production.
- It is best to avoid the consumption of raw or poorly cooked meals, soft cheese, shellfish and large fatty fish (e.g. swordfish, tuna). This does not mean that all fish should be excluded from a pregnant woman’s diet, since they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for the development of the fetus.
- It is recommended to drink water in adequate amount (at least 8 to 9 glasses per day) and to avoid alcohol consumption, even in small amounts.
- Particular attention should be given to salt intake, which should be limited to avoid possible edemas.
Simple healthy recipes:
- A bowl of low-fat milk with whole grain cereals and 1 fruit
- 1 cup of low-fat yoghurt with 1 fruit, whole grain cereals and nuts
- Whole-wheat toasted bread with low-fat cheese, tomatoes and lettuce
- A salad with various vegetables, unsalted nuts, dried fruits and olive oil
- “Dakos” salad with a barley rusk, tomatoes, low fat cheese and olive oil
- Roasted chicken with tomato sauce and whole-wheat penne pasta
- Salmon with spinach salad and bulgur