Eating healthy, nutritious food during pregnancy is one of the best things you can do, both for your growing baby and for you. It ensures proper growth and brain development for baby and adequate energy levels and optimum health for the mother.
‘Eating For Two’
The old saying ‘eating for two’ is actually completely true if we are looking at nutrients, rather than calories. What you eat directly feeds and nourishes your baby. So you should try to make every meal count by filling your diet with delicious and healthy foods to help both of you thrive.
Including a rainbow of vegetables, good fats and protein every day is the best way to ensure you are giving your baby the very best start to life. You will also reap the benefits of increased energy levels, less chance of developing gestational diabetes, pre-eclapsia, pre or postnatal depression and quicker recovery time after the birth.
Fruit and Vegetables – Aim for 7-9 servings of vegetables and 1-3 pieces of fruit every day. They contain an amazing array of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, many of which are critical for the development of your baby. They also contain fibre for bowel motility, as constipation is common during pregnancy.
Protein: This is crucial for your baby’s growth, especially during the second and third trimesters. You need approximately 71 grams per day. It’s hard to measure this, so just make sure every meal and snack contains some form of protein.
Good sources include lean meat, poultry, fish and eggs, beans, lentils, tofu, dairy products, nuts, seeds, hummus and pseudo-grains such as quinoa and buckwheat.
Essential Fatty Acids: These ‘good fats’ are essential for the development of your baby’s brain and for keeping your cells functioning properly during pregnancy.
Good sources include nuts and seeds, avocado, olive oil and oily fish (mackerel, sardines, salmon and anchovies NB: avoid tuna as it is high in mercury).
Omega 3 – DHA: This fat is particularly crucial for fetal brain development and reduces risk of developing allergies and eczema. It also helps mood stability and reduces risk of depression in the mother. Most of us are deficient in Omega 3. Good sources include oily fish, eggs, walnuts, chia seeds and ground flaxseeds. Aim for 2-3 servings of oily fish per week.
NB: Reducing your Omega 6 intake is important to improve the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6. Cook with olive oil or coconut oil instead of vegetable or seed oils and cut out the processed foods, cakes, ready meals etc.
Carbohydrates – Vegetables are one of the best carbohydrates to consume in large amounts. Try to reduce your consumption of refined, white products such as white bread, white rice, pasta, cous cous etc. and replace with brown rice, wholemeal pasta, quinoa, buckwheat and wholegrain bread. Whole grains help with bowel movement and contain more nutrients than white varieties.
Sugar – Too much sugar during pregnancy can lead to unhealthy weight gain, increase risk of gestational diabetes, increase inflammation, suppress your immune system and increase your child’s risk of obesity and other chronic diseases later in life. Please do not substitute sugar for artificial sweeteners. These are far more dangerous. Instead, opt for healthier alternatives such as fresh fruit and small amounts of dark chocolate, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, raw honey or dates.
Bridget Hurd is a Nutritional Therapist and can provide one to one consultations.
|Folic Acid||Prevents neural tube defects and anaemia||Green leafy veg, eggs, beans, lentils, liver and sprouts|
|Calcium||Strong bones and teeth||Dairy, almonds, broccoli, kale, sardines, egg and sesame seeds|
|Vitamin D||Strong bones and teeth, immune function and reduce miscarriage risk||Sunlight, oily fish and eggs|
|Iron||Helps carry oxygen in blood||Meat, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, almonds, avocado, pumpkin seeds.|
|Iodine||Brain and nervous system development. Thyroid function for mother||Fish, seafood and seaweed, dairy, asparagus and mushrooms|
|B6||Boosts immune system, form red blood cells and reduces nausea||Avocado, banana, meat, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds|
|B12||Prevent anaemia, supports energy levels reduces neural tube defects||Meat, fish, eggs and dairy products|
|Magnesium||Helps with leg cramps, premature birth, constipation and insomnia||Almonds, cashews, cod, figs, leafy green veg, wholegrain cereals|
|Zinc||Vital for brain development and strengthens mothers immune system||Meat, seafood, ginger, pumpkin and sunflower seeds|