Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to eat enough for 2 when you are pregnant! Energy requirements during pregnancy will go up around 300kCal per day. (an average bowl of cereal = 150-170Kcal, one small treat bar= 130kCal, 1 potato boiled=100kCal.) So in terms of quantity your diet should remain pretty similar to before, however the quality of your diet can improve.
The main guidelines for a healthy pregnancy diet for you and your baby are:
1. Fruits and Vegetables. Aim to eat 5 servings per day of either raw, cooked, tinned, frozen, dried or juiced. F&V will keep your immune system and blood healthy.
2. Carbohydrate for energy. Eat plenty (6-11 servings) of wholegrain bread, pasta, rice, cereals etc.
3. Protein (2-3 servings per day) such as:
1. Lean meat and chicken, fish (aim for at least two servings of fish a week) It is important to eat these foods as they will give you iron which some pregnant women can become deficient in it. Have a glass of orange juice with your meal, the Vitamin C helps the absorption of iron. There is no need to take an iron supplement unless advised by your GP.
2. Fish is important and you should have at least 2 servings per week (one of oily fish) as they contain Omega 3 oils and fatty acids which are linked to lowering the risk of ADHD in your child and increased concentration and mental functioning. However, do not eat predatory fish such as shark, marlin, swordfish and limit tuna to fresh tuna twice a week as they contain levels of mercury which may be harmful to the baby.
3. Eggs (no raw eggs/egg products e.g. homemade mayonnaise as the eggs may contain salmonella which may cause food poisoning ~ very unpleasant for expecting mums!)
4. Pulses such as beans and lentils for vegetable protein. Avoid liver and liver products such as pâté as it contains Vitamin A, as well as Vitamin A supplements and cod liver oil which contain high amounts of Vitamin A. Levels of Vitamin A can build up in your body and can be toxic to the baby.
4. Dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt, which contain calcium. Your body, as an adaptive response, will increase its absorption of Calcium so that the baby’s skeleton can form. Avoid soft/cream cheeses such as Brie or Camembert as they may contain Listeria, which can be extremely harmful to the baby. Hard cheeses are perfectly fine.
5. Try and cut down on sweets and cakes etc. as it will be easier to keep your weight under control.
6. Take Folic Acid Supplement and eat folate-fortified foods.
7. Drink plenty of water…being hydrated will prevent any excess discomfort with bloating, constipation, headaches, and general malaise. It was also prevent you from overeating because when we are dehydrated we often feel hungry and eat something instead of drinking a glass of water! Caffeine in tea and coffee should be limited as caffeine is quite a strong chemical and can result in a low birth weight or even miscarriage so limit intake to 300mg, which would be 3 mugs of coffee or 6 cups of tea. Remember, caffeine occurs in chocolate and some cold/flu remedies so check the label.
8. Exercise gently e.g. walking or swimming for 20-30 mins. Always tell your instructor you are pregnant before taking a class. Avoid any activity where you may fall. And bear in mind that your muscles and ligaments are a lot looser due to the hormone Relaxin, so take care when walking on uneven surfaces.
9. Read the label of everything you ingest. Nowadays, labels will always say if the product is suitable for pregnant and lactating women. Don’t take chances.
10. Listen to your own body, this might sound vague or ‘new-age’ but YOU are the only person who knows how YOU feel…so if you are feeling tired, take a rest! Do not overdo things, this is a time for you to take stock and look after yourself and the life you are creating.
What to avoid:
1. Cigarette Smoke
3. Vitamin A
4. Liver and Liver Products such as pâté.
5. Multi-Vitamin supplements that contain Vitamin A
6. Cod Liver Oil
7. Predatory fish such as shark, marlin and swordfish (tuna should be limited) as they contain mercury which can be harmful for the baby.
8. Uncooked eggs and egg products (homemade mayonnaise)
9. Soft cheeses
10. Raw shell fish (oysters) as they may make you ill … not pleasant!
11. Be sensible about food hygiene and safety. The last thing you want is to get a bout of food poisoning on top of morning sickness! Wash hands after being in contact with pets and get somebody else to clean up after them.
12. Make sure all meat (especially sausage and minced meats) and pre-packaged meals are cooked thoroughly and reheated until piping hot as this will kill any lurking bacteria.
13. As always, store raw meat separately to cooked and raw vegetables. It is advisable to store raw meat on a plate on the bottom of the fridge so that it can’t drip onto any other food in the fridge.
Weight gain will vary depending on a number of factors such as genetics, morning sickness, cravings, etc., but on average the normal weight gain is 22-30lbs throughout the whole pregnancy with the bulk of it in the 2nd and 3rd trimester. Weight gain is a good sign. Do not diet during pregnancy.