Everywhere you look there are diet plans, low fat this and low sugar that and although pregnancy is not the time to be trying to lose weight, it’s certainly the time to be eating healthily. Everything you eat and drink will pass through to your growing baby and affect their health.
Ever heard the phrase that “you should be eating for two”?
It’s complete rubbish!!!
Did you know that no extra energy is needed in the first 6 months of pregnancy and then only an additional 200 calories a day are required in the third trimester? That’s equivalent to 2 pieces of wholegrain toast with olive oil spread or a small handful of nuts/seeds/dried fruit - that’s it!!
How much weight am I supposed to gain in pregnancy?
There are no National guidelines telling us what an expected weight gain in pregnancy is. Most women will gain between 22lbs and 28lbs, but it will depend on what weight you were pre-pregnancy and what level of activity you do. Remember that any weight gain is a culmination of your baby, placenta, amniotic fluid, your extra fluid and blood volumes as well as some extra fat laid down to support your body for breastfeeding; so don’t compare yourself to others.
Top ten ways to eat healthily in pregnancy
1. Stay hydrated – you need approx. 1.6l of fluids spread throughout the day – water/fruit teas are best, try to avoid sugary drinks or those with artificial sweeteners and limit fresh fruit juice to 1 glass a day.
2. Be mindful of your caffeine intake – the recommended daily limit is 200mg and it’s not just a coffee thing (100-140mg per mug) – you’ll find 75mg in a mug of tea, 40mg in a can of cola, 50mg in a bar of plain chocolate and 80mg in a can of energy drink. Try this caffeine calculator.
3. Don’t miss breakfast – the most important meal of the day gives you some much needed energy after a night-time of fasting, kick starting your metabolism and boosting your blood sugar. Even if you are feeling queasy try to eat something light – it can really help.
4. Try to avoid or reduce sugary foods like cakes and biscuits – these give you blood sugar spikes which then lead to a crash afterwards. And although they’re super tasty there’s really not much nutritional value to most of them!
5. Try to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day (including more vegetables than fruit is better due to the natural sugars present in fruit). Packed full of fibre and a variety of vitamins and minerals, it doesn’t matter whether you use fresh, frozen, tinned (no sugar added) or dried – they all count. Aim to eat a rainbow as fruit and vegetables of different colours provide you with different nutrients.
6. Choose foods that release energy slowly – these will keep you fuller for longer and keep you blood sugar levels more stable. Great examples are: wholemeal pasta, basmati rice, quinoa, couscous or sweet potato.
7. Aim to eat protein twice a day – if you’re looking for alternatives to meat, fish, eggs or diary try beans, pulses, nuts, seeds, tofu, soya and quinoa.
8. Include calcium rich foods for strong bones and teeth – if you’re looking for the alternatives to diary try unsweetened calcium fortified plant milks, yoghurts and bread or calcium set tofu, kale, dried figs, almonds and chia seeds.
9. Eat a diet rich in sources of iron to help prevent anaemia – if you’re looking for alternatives to meat and eggs try beans, lentils, chickpeas, fortified cereals, dark leafy veg (spinach, kale, Swiss chard), tofu, edamame, dried apricots, cashew nuts, chia seeds and quinoa. Avoid tea or coffee with your meals as this interferes with the absorption of iron.
10. Smaller more frequent meals may be the way ahead – as your bump grows and squashes your stomach you may find it hard to enjoy full-sized meals. Also if you are experiencing nausea or heartburn smaller less fatty meals with help. Some ideas are oatcakes or pitta bread with hummus and vegetable sticks, wholegrain toast with peanut butter, small jacket potato with beans, pieces of fruit, yoghurt with berries, nuts or dried fruit.
Thanks for reading
Jane – The Midwife
For more blogs on pregnancy, birth and life as a new mum please visit www.naturalbirthingcompany.com/blogs/news
During your pregnancy factors may come into play that result in you requiring different dietary advice – in these circumstances you should seek direct advice from you own Midwife/Doctor according to your situation.
If you are unsure about anything or have any concerns whilst pregnant please speak to your Midwife.