Diet for Pregnancy - 10 essential recommendations
Pregnancy is a great time for eating and drinking more healthily. Knowing there is a baby growing inside her is the best incentive to eat well that a woman can have. However, it doesn’t mean you have to cut out all your treats, just that you should establish a few good eating habits early on that will keep you feeling healthy and give you more energy as your bump gets bigger.
1. This is no time for dieting
Pregnancy is not a good time to cut back on your food. Whilst it’s not an excuse to over-indulge in cream cakes, skipping meals or not eating enough throughout the day will mean you are not providing your body or your baby with enough of the essential nutrients. You will also find that you are much more prone to dizzy spells if you don’t eat at least small amounts regularly.
2. Eat well
Because your body is working extra hard now, you will really notice that the ‘empty’ calories in a bag of crisps have a much more short-term effect on real hunger than a banana. There is no need to forgo every treat, but you will find that greasy food is more likely to make you feel sluggish, plus it might mean you put on more than just the extra weight of carrying a baby, putting undue pressure on your joints.
3. Calorie count
Although you will need to eat more than you usually do, the ‘eating for two’ notion is a myth. Your average daily calorie count will probably only need to go up by about 200-300 calories.
4. Snack wisely
In the early months nausea might put you off big meals and when you’re heavily pregnant, you probably won’t want to fill up too much at each meal. Instead, throughout your pregnancy enjoy good, energy-giving snacks – unsalted nuts, cereal bars, fruit. These will provide the right sustenance to get you through the day.
5. Opt for wholegrains
Rich in nutrients, wholewheat foods are also great for helping keep you regular. Constipation can be a real problem for some pregnant women so wholewheat options along with moderate fibre intake can really help. Also, turning to wholewheat pasta, for example, will fill you up without so much bulk, and it will burn off less quickly than regular pasta.
6. Watch what you drink
Reduce your caffeine intake as excessive intake can lead to low birthweight or even increase the risk of miscarriage. Try not to have more than 200mg of caffeine a day – and don’t forget that includes the caffeine in some soft drinks and chocolate, as well as tea and coffee. Either cut out alcohol completely or limit yourself to one or two units only once or twice a week.
7 Protein is very important during pregnancy
Try to stick to lean meat and fish, or eggs and pulses if you don’t eat meat.
8. Keep up your calcium
Some women hate drinking milk and find dairy products too fatty. However you will need calcium – otherwise your growing baby will drain the calcium reserves your body needs later in life. Try milk shakes, yoghurt or hot chocolate if you don’t like drinking just milk.
9. Keep up your leafy greens
And other foods like iron-rich cereals. During pregnancy iron levels can be depleted so leafy green vegetables and healthy cereal options fortified with iron are recommended. These foods are also a rich source of folates (like the folic acid you will have been advised to take from conception up to week 12 of your pregnancy).
10. Foods to avoid
These include meat which has not been completely cooked through. Also avoid fish such as swordfish or shark which can contain high levels of mercury, and eat no more than two portions of oily fish, fresh tuna or other fish such as halibut or sea bass, as these can contain other pollutants. Avoid unpasteurised cheese, creamy pre-packed foods like shop bought coleslaw or packed sandwiches with mayonnaise, eggs that are not fully cooked, and pate. Also avoid liver as it is too high in vitamin A, and don’t eat raw shellfish. When in doubt, play safe.
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