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How to eat during pregnancy

Pregnancy represents a crucial moment in nutrition awareness for the pregnant woman and the whole family.

We continuously collaborate with Professor Enrico Ferrazzi, an outstanding Italian gynecologist. Dr. Ferrazzi considers food a critical factor for a healthy and serene pregnancy. He’s aware that the instruction received by the mother during this period is fundamental for the health of the fetus and the future child. Here’s an abstract of an interview we had with him talking about the most common claims and concerns of our carrying patients.

"I can eat whatever I want. I can get fat. It's good for the baby".  

It was an approach from the past when eating was not as easy as today. A pregnant woman had "food privileges" since she should "eat for two". But we must remember that then, "eating for one" was very little. Today's easy access to food no longer admits this attitude.

Pregnancy is an extraordinary metabolic motor that accentuates the strengths and weaknesses of an organism. For example, if the mother manifests diabetes at the end of pregnancy, in many cases, it might reappear around her 60’s. The same happens with hypertension or intestinal disorders. Gravidity is an excellent opportunity to recognise how your body interacts with food, and if you pay “not blind” attention, you can understand what is right and not.

What do you mean by “not blind” attention?

Patients consider swelling, constipation and colitis as pregnancy's side effects when they are not. Women, because of their dietary habits and lifestyle, typically have these disorders, amplified however by pregnancy. That's why this period allows us to understand what changes in life habits are needed.

“I eat way too much”. What's wrong with that?

Our diet is already hypercaloric, and even during pregnancy the intake of 2,200 calories/day remains valid. The problem is not how much to eat, but what, and when.

Suppose we have dinner around 8 pm. Expectant women tend to go to sleep an hour after that because they are tired; the organism doesn’t have enough time to digest the meal. It’s fundamental to have a light early dinner: brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, spelt, or barley with vegetables. Varying cereals is essential.

What are other typical eating mistakes during pregnancy?

To have only coffee and biscuits for breakfast. The organism uses stress hormones (adrenaline, cortisone, thyroid hormones, glucagon) to get the energy needed in the morning, resulting in an inflammatory condition that can be critical: premature births in women who only drink coffee in the morning are 3-4 times higher than in those who have an abundant breakfast.

What does abundant mean?

At least 20-25% of daily caloric need. For example 200 grams of fresh fruit, yogurt, whole bread, tea, juice; eggs, or almonds and walnuts, equally nutritious and rich in proteins, with Omega 3 and 6, useful for the growth of the fetus's nervous system.

What are the consequences of an unbalanced diet during pregnancy?

Premature birth, especially if the mother skips breakfast. Late hypertension is also linked to dietary imbalances and to eating food that leads to intestinal inflammation. One advice, have yogurt with probiotics for breakfast.

There is still much to do to make people aware for the need of a healthy and varied diet, even in the medical area. But fortunately, things are changing.
Pregnancy is critical because women, despite the social changes, are still the ones who determine what the family eats. Educating a healthy diet in a woman means instructing an entire family.