When you’re pregnant, there’s many things to take into consideration: not least of all your diet and overall health. Don’t belittle the huge impact a healthy diet during pregnancy will have on both you and your child.
Eating right can improve your baby’s health, a good birth weight, brilliant brain development, reduced risk of birth defects, etc. It will also improve your chances of having a safe and comfortable pregnancy and smooth delivery.
If you are just starting to think about getting pregnant, then start eating right too, not only will it improve your chances of conception, but it will make eating well throughout your pregnancy much easier for you.
Eating right is as easy as switching to healthier versions of foods you already eat; it’s about making sensible choices that you know will benefit you. If you are choosing a snack, opt for nuts, seeds, dried fruit and dark chocolate instead of crisps, pretzels and milk chocolate bars.
If you are preparing a main meal, think about cooking complex, whole carbohydrates, which are often much more flavoursome anyway! Brown rice has a delicious nutty texture and teff flour has a rich, full flavour that’s perfect for pancakes at breakfast, quinoa salad and buckwheat porridge are quick and easy additions to your daily routine. And these kind of carbs will give you more energy and far greater health benefits than their refined varieties.
Introduce Enjoyable Eating Habits to the Family
Include all the family in eating healthily, as this will establish worthy food values as well as keeping everyone in the greatest state of health. The earlier good eating habits are introduced to children, the greater the chance of a healthy childhood and perhaps an extended lifespan too.
Do you really need to eat for two?
Eating for two is not a myth, but it is often misunderstood. It does not mean that you need to eat twice as much as you would have otherwise, instead it means that you need only ten percent more than normal. Your weight gain should increase by about 1lb every week in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, so hop on a scale to make sure that you aren’t over or under-eating.
The Low Down on Cravings
Cravings are not excuses to eat whatever you like…as is so often portrayed in movies and on TV. But you can and should indulge occasionally, and don’t forget to add a few healthy ingredients too!
What nutrients are important to include in my pregnancy diet?
Protein is an important factor in helping your baby grow, so make sure to eat a wide variety of protein rich foods, and that doesn’t just mean dairy! Fish, eggs, beans, soy, nuts, whole grains and seeds all have a good amount of protein in, so try to include a good quantity of these in your daily diet. These type of whole foods also have a good number of other health benefits too.
Keep all types of vitamins and minerals up by eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables in a wide variety of colours. Snack on tomatoes, avocadoes, sweet potato chips, raw veg dipped in hummus or homemade coleslaw. Getting a good quantity if folic acid in your system will be very beneficial to the healthy growth of your baby also.
And last but not least, keep drinking lots of water which is essential for keeping you both hydrated and detoxed.
So, how do you actually achieve this?
- Start the day with a fruit smoothie. Keep bags of frozen fruit and berries in your freezer just for this purpose, and mix it up with a handful of almonds, a banana and a spoonful of linseeds.
- Make your own vegetable soups at the beginning of the week to have at lunchtimes and quick suppers with a slice of whole wheat toast.
- Stews with pearl barley and beans are delicious, easy to make and extremely good for you. Try a chilli stew if you like a bit of heat, or add some mixed herbs for a European touch.
- Lentils are great added to soups and stews, and also make a fantastic side dish when cooked right; they are also a fab source of folic acid.
- Green vegetables are also packed full of folic acid (as well as many other amazing nutrients), so try adding greens to your morning smoothie, or steam some as a side to your dinner.
- It doesn’t matter if you are vegan or vegetarian, so long as you keep up your protein, iron and calcium intake via other sources; in fact some of the healthiest children are born to health conscious vegan mothers.
- Exchange high GI foods for low GI, slow release energy foods that will keep you going longer. The less processed the food the lower the Glycaemic Index, generally speaking, so try making things from scratch, and buying items with very few ingredients on the label.
- When you’re feeling queasy, try eating wholegrain toast which will help to settle your stomach.
- Try keeping a food diary, to mark what you’ve eaten, so your doctor can see that you’ve been eating the right types and amounts of food to nourish both you and the baby.