It’s easy to think that when you’re pregnant you have an excuse to eat for two and indulge in whatever you fancy but his isn’t the case! When you’re pregnant it’s more important than ever to watch what you eat and ensure you get a healthy balanced diet. Not only to make sure you don’t gain too many extra pounds, but also to nourish your baby and make sure you give them the best start in life. There’s a lot of information out there as to what you shouldn’t eat during pregnancy and it can all get quite confusing, so here is your no nonsense, easy to follow guide to pregnancy nutrition.
Fruit and veg
A good intake of fruits and vegetables is essential. They provide a wide variety of vitamins and minerals important for nourishing you and your baby. Aim for a minimum of five per day (two fruit and three veg). Go organic if you can as this will reduce the levels of potentially harmful chemicals in your food. You can make up large portions of vegetable ratatouille and freeze portions to eat later on. Roast trays of Mediterranean vegetables – eat what you need for dinner and use the rest in a salad the following day. Get creative with salads and find some new interesting recipes.
Protein is essential for the growth and development of your baby. The amino acids which make up protein also form the basic building blocks of your body’s cells — which in turn also form the building blocks of your baby’s body too. Recommendations of protein intake for pregnant women is 70g per day. You can get this from good quality meat (lean and organic where possible), fish, eggs, pulses such as beans and lentils, tofu and quorn to name a few. Fish fillets can be simply baked in the oven in a tin foil parcel – add a slice of lemon and ginger or some sundried tomato paste for flavouring. Make a large frittata from organic eggs and keep it in the fridge for lunches.
Fats are essential during pregnancy but which type of fat is important to consider. As usual, you should be avoiding trans and hydrogenated fats (found in processed food) and saturated fats (found in cheese and fatty meats). Ensure a good intake of Omega 3 fatty acids as these are essential for the development of your baby’s brain and eyes. Eat oily fish (types that are safe for pregnant ladies), walnuts, flax seeds and omega 3 enriched eggs. Flax seeds can be ground and sprinkled over soups and salads.
Not all carbs are created equal. Focus on low glyceamic carbohydrates such as most vegetables, oats, rye bread, beans, lentils and chick peas. Avoid refined sugar and watch out for hidden sugars in foods. Avoid refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white pasta and white rice, all of which have had essential nutrients removed during their processing.
Drink plenty of pure water – a minimum of two litres per day.
For the health and safety of your baby, there are certain foods you should avoid when pregnant. Here they are:
Mould-ripened soft cheeses (such as brie, camembert and soft goats cheese)
Soft blue-veined cheeses (such as Danish blue, gorgonzola and roquefort)
These cheeses are made with mould and can contain listeria bacteria that cause listeriosis. Even a mild form of this infection in a pregnant woman can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or severe illness in a newborn baby.
Don’t eat raw or undercooked eggs or foods that contain them. Ensure eggs are thoroughly to prevent the risk of salmonella food poisoning.
Don’t drink any unpasteurised milk – this includes cows’ goats’ and sheeps’ milk.
Avoid all types of pâté, including vegetable pâtés, as they can contain listeria.
Don’t eat raw or undercooked meat.
Don’t eat liver or liver products as they can contain a lot of vitamin A. Too much vitamin A can harm your baby.
Limit tuna and other fish known to be high in mercury and other contaminants. Don’t eat raw shellfish, as it can cause food poisoning.
You should avoid drinking alcohol if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Too much exposure to alcohol can seriously affect your baby’s development.
You should limit caffeine during pregnancy – don’t have more than 200mg of caffeine a day. High levels of caffeine can cause babies to have a low birth weight. Too much caffeine can also cause a miscarriage. Caffeine is contained in tea, coffee and some soft drinks. Never ever drink energy drinks.
Minimise high fat, high sugar, processed foods and those with artificial additives. Remember that anything you eat is likely to be passed on to your baby.
Wash fruit, vegetables and salads to remove all traces of soil, which may contain toxoplasma, a parasite that can cause toxoplasmosis.
- high-dose multivitamin supplements
- fish liver oil supplements
- any supplements containing vitamin A
Follow these guidelines and you can not only nourish your baby as well as possible, you can also make sure that you don’t have too much weight to loose once you’ve given birth!