Ways to keep a healthy diet during pregnancy

The saying goes “you are what you eat”, but as a mum-to-be the nutrients you consume are also what your baby gets. The good news is that whilst pregnant, your body becomes more efficient at absorbing nutrients as it’s primed to look after your developing baby. So, now’s the time to kick some of those old habits and choose healthy options.

Eating for two? Wouldn’t that be great! But did you know that it’s only in the third trimester of pregnancy that you may need to up your daily calorie intake by 200 calories (which is equivalent to a slice of toast and a banana!). What matters most is quality not quantity, and most important is that you get all the essential nutrients you need.

Try eating foods from different colour groups throughout the day, such as green vegetables, tomatoes, yellow peppers and bananas, blueberries or blackberries. Remember the five a day rule for fruit and vegetables, even a glass of fresh fruit juice or vegetable soup can contribute to your intake.

Here are some nutrients you can get from the foods you eat

Mineral/Vitamin  Why you need it   Where you get it from

Zinc

Plays an essential role in function of the immune system.

Meat, eggs, leafy green vegetables, nuts, seafood.

Calcium

Helps build healthy bones and teeth.

Dark green leafy vegetables, pulses, nuts, seeds, eggs, and milk.

Vitamin B1

Healthy nervous system and breakdown and release of energy.

Wholegrains, eggs, peas.

Iron

Important for the transport of oxygen, physical growth and brain development. The demand for iron rises steadily during pregnancy and particularly in your third trimester.

Meat, fish, dark green leafy vegetables, pulses and dried fruit.

Vitamin C

Important or function of the nervous system, collagen formation and the absorption of iron.

Citrus fruit, berries, potatoes and green vegetables.

Foods to watch out for in pregnancy

In pregnancy it is important to have a well-balanced diet and eat from all the main food groups: proteins, fats and sugars, milk and dairy product, fruit and vegetables and carbohydrates however, there are some foods that are recommended to avoid. Check with your midwife for a complete list. Some examples of risky foods include:

  • Unpasteurised milk and cheese
  • Blue-veined and mould-ripened soft cheeses such as Camembert and Brie
  • Pate
  • Liver products

Other foods you might want to limit during pregnancy are refined foods such as white flour, biscuits, sugary food and ready meals. However, don’t be too hard on yourself if you are tempted by the occasional treat like cake or chocolate.

Liquids for pregnancy

Drink plenty of water (6-8 glasses if possible); our body is made up of a large percentage of water, so it makes sense to keep hydrated. Steer away from fizzy or carbonated drinks as they can reduce the absorption of vital nutrients. Limit your amount of caffeine to the recommended daily amount 200 mg. Tea and coffee may also lead to loss of nutrients, so consider replacing these with healthier alternative caffeine free drink. If having tea or coffee have a chaser of a glass of water, as they have a dehydrating effect too.

Your key pregnancy nutritional principles

Have regular meals per day and don’t skip breakfast. If you like to snack between meals, select healthy bites such as fruit, oatcakes, dried fruit or nuts.

Whilst you will want to stay trim and fit during pregnancy this is not the right time to embark on any dieting regimes or ‘fad’ diets, many are not nutritionally suitable for pregnancy.

The key is to stay healthy, enjoy your pregnancy and know that you are doing your very best for your baby. Your body is doing an amazing thing and a good diet is important to maintain your energy levels!

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