Pregnancy & Birth Guide, Pregnancy Essentials

Food In Pregnancy

During pregnancy your appetite may vary – from feeling sick and not really fancying anything to feeling starving and never full.

Pregnancy can be a time when you feel like you can eat for two, when diets and healthy eating can go out the window especially when you feel tired. While pregnancy is not a time for a calorie controlled diet, it is a time to eat healthily – cutting down on processed foods, ready meals and sugary snacks can help you feel better and will help to keep your weight gain at a normal level.

What you eat in pregnancy can become something you obsess over and it can also be the cause of confusion. The British Nutrition Foundation is all about keeping it simple – a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and veg; carbohydrates; some fish, lean meat, eggs and dairy – going with alternatives if you are vegetarian or vegan. Here’s a quick guide to making healthy choices with food…

Fresh fruit & veg for meals and snack…
Broccoli and cabbage are rich in vitamins and nutrients but a wide selection of colourful fruit and vegetables is going to be great for your health. Add some rocket, kale and green, leafy veg as well for calcium.

Carbs can be a great source of energy…
Wholemeal bread, pasta, rice, sweet potatoes and oats are great sources of vitamins and fibre which could help you feel satisfied and give you a much needed energy boost.

For Protein…
Eggs, which are also low calorie but high in vitamins, minerals and protein
Beans and chickpeas also contain fibre, which can help prevent constipation
When eating red meat such as beef and pork, make sure it is lean
Chicken and turkey
Salmon, sardines or mackerel (but no more than 2 portions a week) which will also boost your Omega-3

For Calcium…
Greek yoghurt, dairy, rocket, kale, almonds, brazil nuts and sesame seeds

For Iron…
Lean red meat, nuts, eggs and green leafy veg
Vitamin C will help your body to absorb iron so it can be beneficial to have a glass of orange juice with your food.

For Folic Acid…
Oranges, berries, green leafy vegetables, beetroot, beans and brown bread

Water…
Your body is changing and working hard so you need to stay hydrated. Drinking water can keep you energised and it can also keep headaches and constipation away too.

Eggs…
UK Lion hen eggs can be eaten lightly cooked but all other eggs and hen eggs which do not have the Lion mark should be well-cooked.

Alcohol…
The Food to of Health advice is not to drink alcohol at all

Caffeine…
the recommendation is no more that 200mg per day so here’s a quick guide:
tea: 75mg
filter coffee: 140mg
instant coffee: 100mg
250ml energy drink: 80mg
can of coke: 40mg
50g milk chocolate: 10mg

Food To Avoid…
High levels of Vitamin A so don’t take supplements containing it and stay away from liver products.
Be careful with eggs – check if they are Lion UK eggs
Raw & undercooked meat
Pate
Shark, marlin & swordfish
Raw shellfish

SO, IN SHORT…Eat as healthily as you can. Try to see food as fuel to help your body function better as it makes your baby and so you feel as well as possible – but it is all about balance so don’t feel bad when only a slice of cake will do!

For more information, head over to NHS Pregnancy Diet and British Nutrition Foundation

Janine Smith – practitioner in pregnancy, birth & early parenting