The 8th to the 14th of February marks Pregnancy Awareness Week. I cannot speak from experience yet but from what I’ve heard the 40 (or so) weeks of pregnancy is a magical time. I definitely know that keeping a healthy lifestyle throughout, as well as before and after, is vital for both mother and baby. Key aspects of a successful pregnancy including eating a healthy balanced diet, gaining the right amount of weight, doing regular physical activity, taking vitamin and mineral supplements as recommended, and avoiding alcohol, tobacco and other harmful substances. Pregnant women are also at high risk of food poisoning and so safe food practices are important.
Whole grains: breads, cereals, pastas and brown rice – all the whole wheat, high fiber, low GI options.
Fruit: all types of fruit, fresh, frozen or dried without any added sugars.
Vegetables: eat a variety of colorful veg, choosing a good mix between starchy and non-starchy options. Avoid raw sprouts.
Lean protein: protein foods include meat, chicken, fish, eggs, beans and lentils, nuts and nut butters, as well as soya products. Choose the lean options with no visible fat and opt for low fat cooking methods. Avoid eating certain fish – king mackerel, swordfish, shark, raw fish such as sushi and refrigerator smoked seafood. Limit white tuna to approximately 120g per week. Reheat deli and luncheon meats if consumed.
Low fat dairy: this includes milk, cheese and yoghurt. Unpasteurized milk and certain soft cheeses made from this should be avoided.
Healthy fat: this can be obtained from avocados, nuts and seeds, as well as vegetable oils including olive and canola oil. Remember to include this in moderation as they are still calorie dense options.
Avoid added sugars and fats and cut down on foods such as cold drinks, sweets and fried snacks (with the exception of one or two cravings) to avoid unhealthy weight gain.
Folic acid: this reduces the risk of birth defects that affect the spinal cord. Women of child bearing age and pregnant women need at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. Food sources rich in folate include legumes, green leafy vegetables, and citrus fruits, as well as fortified grains such as cereals, pastas and bread.
Iron: the most common nutritional deficiency during pregnancy is iron deficiency. The requirement for this is 27 milligrams of iron daily. Food sources include red meat, chicken and fish, fortified cereals, some leafy greens and beans. If you are a vegetarian or do not eat enough meat, improve iron absorption by combining plant-based sources of iron with vitamin C-rich foods. An example of this could be cereal with strawberries or maybe a spinach salad with orange segments.
Calcium: this is required for the healthy development of baby’s teeth, bones, heart, nerves and muscles. If you do not consume enough calcium when pregnant, it could deplete your stores to meet the requirements of your baby. The recommended daily amount of calcium during pregnancy is 1300 milligrams. Include at least 3 daily servings of calcium-rich foods such as low fat milk, yoghurt and fortified cereals.
Your attending doctor and registered dietitian may recommend a vitamin and mineral supplement to ensure you get enough of these and other nutrients.
Skip the added stress and click here to book an appointment for a personalized meal plan meeting your specialized pregnancy needs.