Congratulations you are pregnant. This is a time in your life where you will never do anything alone for nine months. There is a second person with you every hour of the day and especially at meal times. Healthy eating during pregnancy can be very confusing with many lists of do’s and don’ts. With the list of foods you are advised not to eat, you end up not even sure if you should eat.
Fortunately for you, pregnancy is not a disease or an allergy, so your eating habits should not change that much. If you have not started eating healthier, now is a good time. The nutrients you provide your body with will benefit your health and your baby’s development.
HEALTHY EATING DURING PREGNANCY
During pregnancy, your body will go through multiple changes including physical and hormonal adaptations. The old saying that you are eating for two isn’t completely correct. Your body does have increased nutritional needs at this time but they don’t double, so it is important to ensure you have the correct amount of macronutrients and micro nutrients. Let’s clear all the clutter and go back to basics.
Most pregnant women can meet their nutritional needs by choosing a diet that includes a variety of healthy foods. The best way to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need is to eat different foods from each of the food groups every day. Each food group has something to offer your body. For example:
- Grains are a good source of energy and fibre.
- Fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants, fibre, and water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins and minerals.
- Meats, nuts, and legumes provide your body with protein, folate, and iron.
- Dairy products are great source of calcium and vitamin D1.
If you consume a balanced diet and include a variety of food you will only have to increase your intake with ±1260 kilojoules per day in the second and third trimester. This is one extra small meal every day. This rule only applies if you are still eating the same amount as what you were eating before you got pregnant and that your main meals were healthy and balanced1,2.
Below are examples of healthy snacks to add in between your three meals to help increase energy intake.
|Day 1||Day 2||Day 3||Day 4||Day 5||Day 6||Day 7|
|½ cup of full cream milk 1 apple||FUTURELIFE® High Protein LITE SmartBar||250ml FUTURELIFE® Smart DrinkTM||1 fruit 100g yoghurt||50g FUTURELIFE® Smart foodTM shake made with 250ml milk||3 Provitas with low fat 2 tablespoons cottage cheese||FUTURELIFE® ZERO Smart foodTM smoothie made with ½ cup yoghurt, ½ cup fruit|
|1 Slice FUTURELIFE® Smart Bread™ toast 3 slices mozzarella cheese||½ cup low fat yoghurt 1 cup fruit salad||Handful of dried fruit and 2 tablespoon nuts||2 digestive biscuits||½ a mango||1 cup grapes||1 banana|
SPECIFIC NUTRIENTS TO CONCENTRATE ON
Apart from the energy adjustment and making sure the diet is balanced, including the following nutrients in your daily diet will help ensure that you satisfy your body’s nutritional needs during pregnancy and ensure nutritional success.
Protein is essential for muscle growth and brain development of your baby. By eating high quality proteins, you are providing your body with essential amino acids to keep your protein stores full for optimal bodily functions as well as building blocks for your baby. This includes dairy as well. Dairy is a great source of calcium for your body as well as your baby’s bone development3.
Whether you like it or not constipation is a very common enemy in pregnancy. Your stomach muscles relax more than usual because of hormone changes and this increases the risk of constipation. Increasing your fibre intake will help keep this very unwelcome friend away from you. Make sure that every meal contains a high fibre source. This will include whole wheat breads, high fibre pasta, beans and legumes, fruit and vegetables. Remember that the more fibre you eat the more water you must also drink.
Folate also known as folic acid is a B vitamin. Folate plays an important role in reducing the risk of neural tube defects that affect the baby’s brain and spinal cord, such as spina bifida and anencephaly. In pregnancy you need 600 to 800 micrograms of folate. Foods that are high in folate are fortified cereals, leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, dried beans and lentils, peas, liver, nuts, eggs.
You and your baby need calcium for strong bones and teeth. Calcium also helps regulate your fluid so that improves your circulatory, muscular and nervous systems. You need 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day which is about three servings of foods such dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese. Many fruit juices and breakfast cereals are fortified with calcium, too4, 5.
Enjoy this time where you are allowed to eat a bit more. Remember that you are definitely not eating for two. Your baby’s stomach is the size of a Ping-Pong ball, but you are definitely eating for a healthy future.
- Understanding Nutrition, 10th edition, Ellie Whitney, Sharon Rady Rolfes