There seems to be something in the air when it comes to pregnancy these days so I thought I would do a post to help you mammy-to-be’s on having a healthy diet during your pregnancy 😀
Most women know the importance of nutrition throughout their pregnancy, but a lot of women don’t know exactly which foods they should be eating & which they should avoid.
When we weight train, we are building muscle. Pregnancy is similar in that you are building muscle, but not your own muscle tissue – you’re building your baby’s tissue. You need to increase your food intake slightly, by around 300-500 kcals daily. This should be from nutrient dense foods of course, not going for a dessert just because you know you have to eat that little bit more.
Throughout your pregnancy, if you are a normal weight (not overweight nor underweight), you should gain somewhere between 25 – 35 lbs (11-16kg). This will vary of course, depending on your height etc., but just be aware that not gaining enough weight, or gaining too much can lead to problems.
Not gaining enough weight can lead to the baby having a low birth weight which in turn can lead to delayed development.
Pregnancy can be a time of nausea, tiredness & cravings which can each lead to poor food choices. You must remember you are in control & the foods you eat are helping develop your unborn child. You shouldn’t allow yourself to ‘eat for two” and give in to every sweet craving you get. At the end of the day, you are in control.
The consequences of a poor diet throughout pregnancy don’t necessarily show after birth, but can cause issues down the line to your child. Research has shown that poor food choices can increase the child’s risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension & type II diabetes as they grow older.
Foods to avoid:
–Tobacco – all forms
–Meat, seafood & eggs that are undercooked or raw
Keep to a minimum:
–Caffeine (keep to 1 or 2 cups of coffee per day)
–High sugar intake
Foods to include:
–Protein in the form of lean meats & small amounts of dairy – if you tolerate it well. Aim for 1g per lb bodyweight daily.
–Zinc in the form of animal foods, nuts, legumes & whole grains.
–Omega-3 in the form of oily fish, flax, walnuts, hemp, chia, seaweed & fish oil supplements (non-liver).
–Vitamin D in the form of sunshine (20 mins at least 2-3 days/week), supplement or Vit D fortified foods.
–Vitamin B12 from animal foods.
–Iron in the form of dried fruits, whole grains, dark, leafy veg, nuts, seeds, animal foods.
–Calcium in the form of dark, leafy veg, legumes, tofu, figs, nuts, seeds, fortified milk, fortified cereal grains & bok choy.
–Folate in the form of legumes, dark, leafy veg & folate fortified foods or supplements.
Folic acid, is the synthetic or man-made form of the vitamin that is used in most pregnancy supplements and fortified foods. You’ll know a good pregnancy supplement by its use of folate and not folic acid which means that food sources were used instead of the synthetic compound.
Folate is a group of water soluble B-vitamins (also known as B9). It’s the naturally occurring form of the vitamin found in dark leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and broccoli, and in other vegetables like asparagus. Some fruits such as avocado and strawberries are also rich in folate.
Unless you are eating folate rich foods on a regular basis, you may still need to supplement. The recommended folate intake for pregnant or trying mums is between 800 – 1200 mcg per day, and depending on your level of intake from food you may need to supplement with 600-800mcg of folate per day. Multi-vitamins are recommended whether you are pregnant or not, so it is worth buying a good multi-vit, but make sure to check the ingredients as most contain folic acid and not folate.
So basically, as long as you choose good, nutritious foods, keep junk food to a minimum – you don’t have to cut out completely (you’re human!), keep an eye on your weight & make sure you are getting enough vitamins/minerals you should have a healthy & happy pregnancy with no complications (that are caused by poor nutrition at least).
Exercise! Another important factor during pregnancy & I will have a post up on that topic on it’s own soon.
A side note to those of you who are thinking about trying for a baby, all the above apply in the 6 months prior to trying for a baby – obviously it’s not always that simple or well planned, but if you are planning, then you can follow the above guidelines.