Whether you like it or not, pregnancy makes changes for the better. Giving birth means thinking of someone other than yourself. Here nutrition plays an important role in the development of not only the fetus but also the nourishment of your body. If you are one of those moms who swear by a new diet each month, indulges in intermittent fasting and extreme workouts or worse, smokes, does drink more than a bottle of alcohol a week, this is the time to drop all of these habits and take on healthier ones. Using this “best diet for expectant mothers Guide” you’ll learn the best habits and the ones to avoid.

The nonnegotiables – you cannot skip these no matter what. The first truth is the volume of food will increase as you are now eating for two (or if you are expecting twins/triplets …more). What is in your control is the quality of the food you ingest. Fresh fruits and vegetables should constitute at least 60% of your diet and this cannot be the tinned, boxed, canned varieties. Yes, this is a more expensive option but parenting is expensive. Look at it this way. Better to consume the right foods and supplements now and have a healthy baby than risk causing problems for the fetus (and yourself) and have to pay for more doctor’s visits and medical bills.

If you are a nonvegetarian then protein should be easily available in meat, chicken, fish, and eggs. If you are vegetarian, vegan then the choices are plenty in pulses, tofu, whole wheat pasta, nuts, and nut butter.  The fetus will need a massive intake of calcium, minerals, and vitamins so you may probably need to add supplements or a combination of multivitamins, in addition to the diet. Your doctor will advise you on what is your recommended daily dosage depending on how far you have come along, what is the progress of your fetus and any medical conditions. In case you are suffering from high or low blood pressure, anemia, diabetes or other medical conditions, then your diet will need to be followed blindly. Any change or deviation can negatively impact not just you but also your fetus and this is not the time to risk it!

The good news is you don’t have to chain yourself to only these foods. The beauty of being pregnant is giving yourself permission to have it all. Now is the time to indulge in 2 doughnuts (or 3). Another fun fact of being pregnant is many mothers swear by the weird food combinations they experienced when pregnant. These cravings only last during some of the 9 months. Name it and it has been done – ice creams with pickles, chips dipped in chocolate sauce, cold pizza topped with icing, the list is endless. Some of the weirdest cravings are perhaps from women who swore by chicken each day suddenly found the smell made them nauseous. Similarly, strictest vegetarians couldn’t control their hunger for a large steak, well done! Suddenly you can’t get enough of spicy food although earlier your eyes burnt at the sniff of pepper and for others, they can’t get enough of chocolate although pre-fetus, even the thought of chocolate left them gagging. Pregnancy is a magical time when you are given full permission to indulge in all your food fantasies – and get away with it for a good year!

The other thing to watch out for during pregnancy is at each trimester, there are changes. Usually, the intake of food increases as the fetus grows. Don’t be alarmed and try to curb hunger. You need to nourish yourself with the right food no matter what time of day or night. Also, not every new mom undergoes morning sickness – at times this can completely pass you by or hang onto you the entire day (and night). Also, some expectant mothers don’t have any cravings and have a seemingly normal diet – same as pre-fetus. All of this is normal and unless the doctor declares otherwise, no reason to stress.

The untouchables –  and you already know what this is. If you ever decided to kick that addiction, now is the time. Give up smoking, drinking because if you don’t, you will not only damage your fetus, you may also kill them. Yes, this is time to be alarmed and wake up to the reality that these are actually untouchable items and should not, under any circumstances, be ingested no matter what your state of mind or body. In addition to these vices, you may also want to steer clear of some seemingly normal foods and drinks which border on dangerous for the fetus.

Raw, uncooked or undercooked meat, fish and eggs will have to be sacrificed during this time. You may swear by your sushi but put it on hold till after the baby arrives and then make up for the nine months you missed. Some fish like tuna, mackerel will need to be avoided altogether due to the high mercury content.

Coffee and tea also fall in this category although some mothers prefer to cut down the quantity rather than go cold turkey. The truth is, your body may automatically find itself craving that glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and turn away upon smelling the fresh brew of the morning pot of coffee. That is the miracle of pregnancy.

Although not in the category of food and drinks, your mind also needs the right nutrition. You need to be in a loving and happy state of mind. This is not the time to get stressed, anxious and dive into negative thoughts as, whether you like it or not, the fetus will also be impacted. It is inevitable that you may worry about the future of your little one and how you and your partner will need to create a loving and nurturing environment for him or her.

However, the first environment is within your womb so make that count. Stepping out for a brisk walk, listening to your favourite songs, reading the books you loved or simply watch the movies that bought happiness in your heart – now is the time to indulge in all these activities. Whether you like it or not, your body needs to slow down, relax and enjoy making way for the blessing of life.