Motherhood is a journey that begins long before you give birth. What this means is that you start taking care of your child in the very first month of your pregnancy. The best and most productive way to ensure that you take good care of the fetus is by developing and maintaining a healthy diet.

For most ladies, pregnancy means that they have to increase the amount of food that they eat because they will be eating for two. But, there is way much more to pregnancy diet than eating for two. And to make sure that you give the baby the best start when he is still in the womb you should always keep these five vital diet tips for pregnancy in mind.

#1 Fruits And Vegetables should be Part of Most Meals

Fruits and vegetables should form part of most if not all your meals as they not only provide essential minerals and vitamins, but they also help to prevent constipation which is a common problem during pregnancy. Make sure that you eat as much variety as possible so that you can get different nutrients. You can eat the vegetables raw or cook them slightly but make sure that you do not overcook so as to ensure they maintain all their healthy nutrients. Also, make sure that you wash the fruits and vegetables thoroughly. Vegetables like kale, spinach, lettuce and other leafy greens are perfect for pregnancy and for fruits you can go for anything that is available in the season.

#2 Eat Frequently

You should never go for more than three hours without eating when you are pregnant. Snacking on salad vegetables, soups, low-fat yogurt, fresh fruits or even baked beans ensures that your stomach never becomes empty. Constant grazing will provide a steady flow of nutrients to your baby, and it is also useful for keeping your blood sugar level stable which in turn prevents things like lightheadedness. Having small and frequent meals will also minimize heartburns which are another painful and very common problem that comes with pregnancy.

#3 Always Remember to take Prenatal Vitamins

Prescription or OTC prenatal vitamins are a must take for every pregnant woman. It is true that you should try and meet all your nutritional needs by maintaining a healthy diet that consists of foods from all the groups but in most instances, there will always be gaps. Prenatal vitamins will help to bridge these gaps so that you can give birth to a healthy baby.

#4 Limit or Reduce Intake of Foods High in Salt, Sugar or Fat

It is common for pregnant women to get cravings for sugary and fatty foods because they are tasty but they are not always ideal for pregnancy. Fatty foods have a lot of calories and eating a lot them means that you are likely to gain more weight and even develop obesity which is dangerous for your pregnancy. Also, these saturated fats will put in more cholesterol in your blood which can lead to the development of heart diseases. Foods that contain a lot of refined sugar on the other hand also have a lot of calories but with little nutrients. And this means that they will only increase your weight without giving the fetus any valuable nutrients.

#5 Omega-3 Fatty Acids are Essential

Omega-3 should be an integral part of your diet plan because they help in the baby’s neurological development. Having enough of these vital fatty acids will give the child better vision, and research shows that it can also help with language and memory comprehension during the first years of his life. Walnuts and flaxseed oil are good sources of omega-3, but fatty fish is still the most reliable source. However, you have to be extra careful when choosing the fish so that you can avoid those that contain high levels of mercury. Salmon, tuna, shark and tilefish are some of the best sources of omega-3.

Apart from knowing what to eat and what to avoid it is also important for a pregnant woman to know how to prepare the foods and the right serving portions. When it comes to food preparation the first and most important thing is to wash the vegetables and fruits well because the soil can contain some harmful elements. Also, it is important to wash the utensils, surfaces and your hands when handling the food and makes sure that you store any raw foods separate from the cooked ones.

Servings will depend on the particular foods that you are eating, but the golden rule is always to make sure that you have a portion of everything and that you eat more vegetables than animal products. Lastly, you should not hesitate to talk to your doctor or a nutritionist if you are having trouble coming up with the right diet for your pregnancy.