If you’re a pregnant woman, the food advice you receive tends to revolve around what you supposedly can’t eat or drink: Alcohol, Chinese food, cheese, and so on. (Bummer.)
But you have to wonder: What kind of healthy food is actually good for your growing baby, could help cure your morning sickness and decrease certain pregnancy concerns? Gynaecologists Ratnabali Ghosh and Sunita Arora know these questions all too well, and they’re sharing four foods women can benefit from during pregnancy.
Lemons: Dr Ghosh says keeping a lemon handy at all times and sniffing it when you feel nauseous can help curb morning sickness. “The part of our brain that is most directly connected with the nausea centre is our sense of smell,” she says. Just as certain smells make you feel sick during pregnancy, she says the strong, cleansing fragrance of a lemon can rapidly help nausea subside. “If you ignore and don’t correct nausea during the first trimester of pregnancy, that increases the risk of preterm labour and blood pressure problems in the third trimester,” she says.
Salt: At least a half teaspoon of iodised salt a day should be a part of a pregnant woman’s diet. Dr Arora says women who use little salt or use sea salt without iodine added can negatively affect their child’s IQ. “We need to have enough iodine in order to produce enough thyroid hormones,” she says. “10-15% of women may have below-normal thyroid levels during pregnancy, and it can have a measurable effect on a child’s IQ.”
Dark chocolate: Some of the highest amounts of antioxidants are found in dark chocolate, and Dr Arora says eating it in moderation is very healthy for pregnant women. “Eating foods that naturally have a significant amount of antioxidants can help reverse or improve the ability of the blood flow through the placenta and reduce preeclampsia, a condition in pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure,” she says.
Coffee: Dr Ghosh says the theories of why coffee is bad for pregnant women have been proven false, and he says coffee can in fact help an expecting mother. “Coffee seems to reduce the instance of gestational diabetes,” she says. “Moderation is the key, but clearly we don’t have the concerns with coffee that we once thought existed.”
Mommies-to-be, the choices that you make at the dinner table have never been more important. You aren’t just eating for two – you’re making decisions for two. How much do you know about good nutrition during pregnancy? Take this short quiz to find out.