Article written by Maryroma Morris
Pregnancy is meant to be a happy time for women but some find that dietary changes put a downer on this joyous period.
Yes, you should stick to a healthy diet but this doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy what you eat! You can indulge yourself once in a while, you just have to be careful not to go overboard and here are some great tips on how to maintain a healthy diet for the vital development of your unborn child.
Stick to your 5 a day
We all know about our 5 a day and when you’re pregnant its especially important as your baby will benefit greatly from the minerals and nutrients that fruit and vegetables contain. Try to eat brightly coloured fruit like oranges, pineapples, mangoes, melon and pomegranate, they’re all great sources of vitamin C, B and D. Bananas are full of potassium and fibre and are great to help your digestion. If you’re not too used to eating fruit, try making fruit smoothies as a great alternative, they’re tasty and easy to make as well as being beneficial. Your baby eats whatever you eat and eating at least 5 fruit or a veg a day is great for the both of you! Don’t forget to eat those greens too, green leafy vegetables are a great source of minerals and vitamins, try having salads with every meal if you can.
Remember your food groups
Try and keep a nice balance of nutrients by remembering your food groups. Each are essential for the growth and development of your child. These food groups include: meat and fish, vegetables, fat and sugar, carbohydrates, and milk and dairy. All of these groups are vital in your pregnancy but you should remember key things. Meat and fish should always be fully cooked so avoid rare steaks and sushi, although if the fish in the sushi has been frozen beforehand then it’s safe for you and baby as the parasites would have been killed. Just be sure before you take a bite. When dishing up your dinner, at least a third of your meal should be made up of vegetables as they’re a great source of vitamins and minerals for the little one growing inside you. Don’t forget your carbohydrates too, these will release energy slowly and are great for bulking up throughout your pregnancy as well as keeping you feeling full. Try to eat small portions frequently, you should essentially be eating 3 meals a day and have some healthy snacking in between.
In between meals you should be snacking to help the little one inside you well fed. Try having healthy alternative to crisps and chocolate such as fruit salads, seeds, cereal and nut bars or a handful of raisins. But don’t be afraid to indulge once in a while, it’s okay for you to have some ice cream and chocolate, there’s no harm but just remember not to get carried away with the calories. Just remember that when you eat chocolate it gives you the feeling of happiness (through released endorphins in the brain) and the baby will feel the same. So it could be said that chocolate makes for a happy baby and isn’t that just what you want! Other healthy alternatives include nuts, seeds and even smoothies. If you’re finding it hard to keep your food down, keep a smoothie ready in the fridge.
There are things to avoid in pregnancy though, try to steer clear from deep-sea fish such as marlin (swordfish) and shark; these may contain high doses of mercury which could be dangerous for the baby. Also try not to eat more than four cans of tuna a week as tuna also contains mercury, but is only considered a risk when you eat more than the recommended amount. Don’t forget to also avoid some dairy products like certain types of cheese. Be cautious with blue cheese or any mould based cheeses as baby’s immune system is only just developing. Watch out for processed foods as well as most have quite a high salt content and additives.
Hydration is Key
What’s most important is keeping hydrated; you should be drinking at least 2 litres of water a day- so around 8 cups of water a day or more. Other extras are unsweetened fruit juices and smoothies and semi skimmed UHT milk, which is a great source of calcium so will help keep your baby’s bones nice and strong, and keep you both well hydrated.
If you have any particular dietary needs or worries or feel that you’re not getting enough of certain vitamins or nutrients then you should contact your midwife or doctor to see if you would need any extra supplements.