Including the right foods and nutrients in your nutrition plan may support your health and wellbeing during the pregnancy journey.
Pregnancy is a demanding time for your body. Your requirements for certain nutrients more than double as you begin the process of growing a new human being within your womb. One of the challenges many newly pregnant women face is knowing what to eat and what to avoid, given the wide variety of opinions that friends will share and the information available on the web. Try to keep the following eating and nutrition tips in mind, as you continue on your pregnancy journey.
Aim for quality
Forget the old saying about eating for two. While it’s absolutely essential that you have adequate nutrition in your diet, your emphasis should be on quality more than quantity. Even before you fall pregnant, upping your intake of certain nutrients can assist with the health of you and your baby. As your pregnancy progresses, you will have an increased need for nutrients including folate, iron, calcium and iodine. Rather than just eating more food, you need to ensure that what you’re eating is nutritionally dense. The Dietitians Association of Australia along with the Federal Government recommend that you eat more lean meat, chicken, fish and non-meat alternatives, such as dried beans, lentils, tofu and eggs. Ensure the eggs are cooked. Also eat more nuts and seeds, reduced-fat milk, cheese and yoghurt, and green leafy vegetables. It is also recommended that pregnant women and women trying to conceive consider a folate and iodine supplement, to support the healthy development of their baby and prevent neural tube defects.
Know the foods to avoid
A woman’s immunity is lowered when she’s pregnant, placing her at greater risk of developing an infection such as salmonella or listeria. The Australian Food Standards recommend that pregnant women avoid foods that contain raw egg and ensure any meat, chicken and eggs they eat are cooked thoroughly. The Standards also recommend avoiding the consumption of any type of sprout, whether raw or lightly cooked, any raw oysters or clams, pre-packaged sandwiches or salads, deli meats, soft cheeses or any leftovers.
Get plenty of Omega 3
Fatty acids are essential for the development of the central nervous system in babies, so a diet rich in foods containing these acids is important during pregnancy. Foods that contain fatty acids include salmon, walnuts, avocados and chia seeds. While fish, especially salmon is beneficial while pregnant, Better Health Victoria warns that pregnant women and those planning on becoming pregnant should avoid consumption of fish that may contain high levels of mercury, including shark, orange roughy, swordfish and ling.
Stay well hydrated
Drinking plenty of water and avoiding too much caffeine can help with the health of your baby. According to the NSW Food Authority, caffeine can reduce the body’s absorption of iron; excessive amounts can increase the risk of miscarriage and premature birth. Being well hydrated will also help to keep you regular, which is important for pregnancy, as many women experience constipation.
Aim for a healthy weight
It is important not to calorie count or restrict your kilojoule intake when pregnant. You want to ensure you have a balanced and nutritional diet, that allows you to gain the required weight in a sustained and safe way. On the other hand, for the best health outcome for you and your baby you should avoid excessive weight gain. The Australian Government’s Eat For Health pregnancy guidelines suggest limiting foods containing saturated fats, added salt, added sugars and alcohol.
We already know the importance of eating well for overall health and well being, however, this does become a priority when creating a tiny human. Ensuring your focus is on balance and nutrition will allow you to approach pregnancy eating as a lifestyle rather than a diet.