The Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) explains what constitutes a well-balanced pregnancy diet.
A nutritious diet during pregnancy is vital to help you meet the rapidly growing needs of your baby, maintain your health and prepare you for lactation. However, there is no need to eat for two. All you need is a well-balanced diet. The
Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at
KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH), a member of the
SingHealth group, explains.
What makes a balanced diet?
Mothers should eat a variety of food from the 4 food groups consisting:
- Rice and alternatives
- Meat and alternatives
This is because different food groups contain different types of nutrients. For instance, meat and alternatives are rich in protein but have no Vitamin C. Choosing a variety of foods ensures that you get the right balance of nutrients from the 4 food groups. The below serves as a guide for pregnant mothers on the types and portions of food to consume.
Rice and alternatives
Foods in this group provides energy as well as fibre, vitamins and minerals. The amount of energy an individual needs vary with age, weight and activity level. Usually,
6 - 7 servings will be required.
The requirement for most minerals and vitamins increases during pregnancy. These are necessary for the normal functioning of the body such as blood formation and the building of body resistance. Fruits are good sources of vitamins and minerals, as well as dietary fibre.
2 servings a day are required.
Like fruits, vegetables are good sources of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre.
2 servings a day are required, at least 1 of which should be a green leafy vegetable like spinach or chye sim, for adequate folic acid.
Meat and alternatives
This food group provides protein, necessary for the growth and repair of body tissues such as those that make up the muscles, heart, lungs, eyes and skin. Pregnant women require more protein, which is used for the formation of new cells in the growing fetus. You should have 2 servings of protein per day. Try to have at least 1 serving from a plant source such as beancurd or lentils (dahl).
Additional nutrients needs
This is essential during pregnancy to prevent the mother from being anaemic (a condition of insufficient red blood cells or haemoglobin in the blood). An anaemic mother tends to look pale and feels tired easily. Additional intake also helps to build up the baby's iron stores, in order to last baby for the 1st 6 months of life. Iron is found in liver, meat, fish, beancurd, wholegrain cereals, green leafy vegetables and eggs.
This is needed for cell growth and cell reproduction. Cells are basic building blocks for tissues. Since folic acid is involved in the formation of blood, a deficiency in folic acid can also cause the mother to be anaemic. Folic acid is found in green leafy vegetables, liver, yeast extract, eggs, nuts, wholegrain cereals and oranges.
We need this vitamin every day because our body cannot store it. Vitamin C increases your body’s ability to absorb iron. It is important to note that Vitamin C and folic acid are easily destroyed by cooking and heat. Vitamin C can be found in fruits especially oranges, guavas, papayas, kiwis, lemons, as well as vegetables. To prevent destruction of Vitamin C, avoid storing fruits and vegetables for long periods of time. You should also avoid peeling and cutting them as Vitamin C is lost with prolonged exposure to air. Vegetables should also be cooked in small amounts of water to prevent water-soluble nutrients like Vitamin C to be leached out into the cooking water, and in as short a time as possible.
During pregnancy, you need more calcium to maintain your own calcium stores as well as for the development of your baby's bones and teeth. Your calcium requirement during pregnancy is 1000 mg a day, which can be met through consuming 2 – 4 servings of milk and alternatives a day.
Read on for our
recommended pregnancy dietary guide and to learn about weight gain during pregnancy.