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Prepare for pregnancy

Andrea Zentai, Nutritionist

If you take a look around the world, you’ll see that there are an ever increasing number of adults and children who struggle with overweight, high blood pressure, cancerous diseases or some kind of eating disorder. On a happier note, more and more people are taking charge of their health, paying conscious attention to what they eat or drink, how much they exercise and how they balance their mental health. Preparing for motherhood is an especially sensitive period in a woman’s life, but it is also one when it is easier to change our habits for the better.

It is important that a woman lead a conscious lifestyle even before the planned pregnancy in order to prepare her body for accommodating and then giving birth to a healthy baby.

Equally important it is to note that the responsibility lies not only on the shoulders of the would-be mother: the father and the family must also be partners in this, since the family background and the parental pattern play a critical role in raising children to be healthy. During the preparation period, the parents should give up any harmful addictions (such as smoking, regular and abundant alcohol consumption, drugs), and establish a lifestyle that can provide optimal conditions for the development of the child to be born.

It is highly advisable for would-be mothers to manage their weight (whether by losing or gaining those kilos), to fill up their iron reserves and to make sure that they have a sufficient intake of folic acid. In order to prevent possible health complications and health damage to the fetus, they need to include in their diet vitamins, minerals and trace elements (e.g. folic acid, vitamins B6, B12 and C, calcium, zinc and iodine) in the appropriate proportion. Strive to adhere to the nutrient intake recommendations for expectant mothers already before the pregnancy.

Try to include in your diet cold pressed oils with high omega-3 content on a regular, daily basis

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The recommended daily intake of the 6 most important nutrients during pregnancy

 

Nutrient Recommended daily intake
Proteins 1-1,2 g/ideal weight
Folic acid (μg) 400
Calcium (mg) 1200
Iron (mg) 30
Zinc (mg) 15
Iodine (μg) 175

 

Foods with a high folic acid content: wheat sprouts, chicken liver, beetroot, spinach, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, brown rice, green beans.

The best absorption of calcium is realized from milk and milk products. Of these, cheeses contain calcium in the most concentrated form. Since cheeses also have a high protein content, it is definitely recommended that you consume them on a daily basis.

Iron gets absorbed from meat the most efficiently. Chitterlings and red meats have especially high iron content. Vitamin C enhances the absorption if iron, so it is advisable to complement this meal with fresh green salad or fruits. In addition to meats, poppy seed, sesame seed, white bean, millet, wheat sprout, linseed, beetroot and spinach all have high iron content but because they are of vegetable origin, the body can utilize the iron with less efficiency from them. Nevertheless, they can be a good and useful addition to your regimen.

Try to include in your diet cold pressed oils with high omega-3 content on a regular, daily basis (such as flaxseed oil, camelina oil or chia oil) – important for the development of the child’s brain and visual nervous system. Make sure that you consume at least once a week some fish, too, such as pike perch, silver carp, salmon or trout, which are good sources not only of omega-3 fatty acid but also of vitamin D.

According to international recommendations, it is advisable that you start preparing for your pregnancy at least 3 but preferably 6 months prior to it. To set up a personalized diet, turn to a dietitian expert for help.

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