Today’s post was contributed by Jonathon from Nature’s Best. Jonathon is a nutrition expert who cares a lot about health and fitness. Enjoy!
Making sure that you’re fuelled properly during your pregnancy is vital both for your health and that of your baby. However, knowing just what to put onto your plate can be something of a minefield. Luckily there is plenty of advice available for mums to be, and we’ve brought together some of it to give you a helping hand.
Eating for two?
Well, not really. While, in the past, women may have been encouraged to eat twice as much food during their pregnancy, the fact is that we just don’t need that much extra food. A little more is needed, but not until the last three months, and then it’s only 200 calories extra. That’s about three large eggs (make sure they’re cooked), or a couple of bananas.
Image credit: Marcelo Cantarela Junior
In one way, though, you are eating for two – not in volume, but in the food choices that you make and ensuring that you both keep yourself fit and healthy and you provide enough nutrition for your baby to grow strong. This article offers some ideas on how to consume that 200 calories in a healthy way.
Keep it balanced
A balanced diet is always important, but when there’s a little person growing inside you it’s even more vital. The main food groups that you should be eating are:
- Fruit and vegetables. Try to eat at least five portions every day.
- Carbohydrates. These are present in foods such as bread, pasta, potatoes and rice. Go for wholegrain varieties where possible.
- Protein. You’ll find this in fish, meat, eggs and beans. Nuts are also a good source – unless you are allergic, the advice from health professionals now is that you can eat peanuts during pregnancy unless your doctor advises you otherwise.
- Dairy. Products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt contain the ever important calcium, vital for the development of bones and teeth in your little one. If you’re vegan, try fortified soya milk, tofu or almonds.
To get an idea of how much of your plate should be taken up by each food group, click here.
Get your vitamins
Image credit: Net Efekt
A sensible, balanced diet should offer most of the vitamins and minerals that you’ll need, but there are a few specific vitamins that are especially important, and that you may need supplements for at first.
- Folic acid. This can help to prevent defects such as spina bifida, limb defects and cleft palate. You’ll find it in dark green leafy vegetables, wholegrains and oranges, but a supplement of 400mcg is recommended as soon as you start trying for a baby, and for 12 weeks into your pregnancy.
- Vitamin D. The best source for this bone strengthening vitamin is sunlight, but again, a supplement is recommended. Take 10mcg daily while pregnant and if breastfeeding.
- Iron. An iron-rich diet might be sufficient to ward off anaemia and keep energy levels from dipping, so a supplement might not be necessary. Try to make sure you consume 14.8mg per day. This tool is handy for checking that you’re eating enough iron.
Foods to avoid
It’s important to check the guidelines on foods that you shouldn’t be eating while pregnant to make sure that both you and your baby are safe. Certain cheeses contain potentially harmful bacteria, and raw eggs can carry salmonella.
Image credit: Smabs Sputzer
Here are some of the foods that you should cross off your shopping list for now.
- Certain types of cheese
- Raw or partly cooked eggs
- Cured meats
- Raw shellfish
Good luck with your pregnancy!