Food is a big deal when you’re pregnant. Suddenly there’s a raft of things you can’t eat and lists of foods you should be eating for the sake of your baby. OHbaby! nutritionist Anna Hansen offers eight tips for a nutritious pregnancy.
1. Keep it simple
The best thing you can do for yourself and baby during pregnancy is to eat the widest possible range of whole foods, as these foods are nutrient dense and contain the goodness you and your growing baby need to function well.
2. Nutrients not energy
While you need more nutrients during pregnancy, energy needs don’t increase much at all so you are not actually “eating for two”, especially not in the first trimester. In general, most women need only an extra 1400kJ (334 calories) a day during the second trimester and an extra 1900kJ (454 calories) during the third. 1900kJ in food terms equates to a cup of blueberries, a handful of almonds and a cup of yoghurt.
3. Go green
Vegetables are packed with goodness – antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. Ideally half of your dinner and lunch plate will be vegetables. It is also great to eat a few serves of raw vegetables a day too, as raw foods contain the added benefit of enzymes. Vegetables are also full of fibre, which will help ease constipation during pregnancy. Adding leafy greens to a smoothie is a practical way of increasing your vegetable intake.
4. Protein power
Eating a range of protein foods is really important as they are great sources of iron, zinc and vitamin B12. Good options include lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, cooked dried beans, lentils and peas. Seafood and eggs provide iodine which is much needed in pregnancy. Seeds and nuts are powerhouses of goodness providing omega 3 fatty acids, incredibly beneficial in pregnancy. You can also get omega 3 fatty acids from fish, especially salmon, herrings and sardines.
5. The goodness of grains
Wholegrains are full of vitamins, minerals And fibre. Some of my favourites are quinoa, buckwheat, brown or red rice, wholegrain pasta and oats. Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pasta are devoid of nutrients compared to their wholegrain alternatives, so pregnancy is a great time to swap refined for whole.
6. Calcium essentials
Calcium and other bone minerals become incredibly important during pregnancy. Dairy is a good source of these minerals and milk, yoghurt and hard cheeses provide many women with the calcium they need. Choose live cultured yoghurts for their probiotic content as this supports good gut bacteria. If you don’t eat dairy, many other foods provide calcium, such as broccoli, kale, tinned red salmon (eat the bones too), baked beans and tofu.
7. Beware the empty calorie
Refined sugar, soft drinks, fried foods and other commercially made foods such as chips and biscuits, are best avoided. Such foods are full of empty calories – high in kilojoules and low in nutrients.
8. Resist temptation
Smoking and alcohol are best avoided during pregnancy. There is still debate on whether caffeine should be avoided, some worry it may increase the risk of low-birth weight or miscarriage. If you can’t cut it out altogether drink no more than 200mg per day, which is about two small coffees or two cups of tea. If you drink double shot coffee, try switching to single shots, as small amounts of caffeine throughout the day are better than one large amount in a single sitting.
For full details of the foods considered unsafe during pregnancy, please consult your LMC. It is now recommended that you take an iodine supplement while pregnant, alongside your folic acid supplement.
Balance and moderation will serve you well in your pregnancy diet. If you reach for whole foods and healthy snacks, avoid alcohol and limit your caffeine, then you’re doing a great job of nourishing the life growing inside of you.
Anna Hansen is a nutritionist with a holistic approach, alongside being a mum to three small children. For more of her super nutrition advice and recipes, check out: facebook.com/AnnaHansenLoveFood.