Few weeks ago while I was in Kuwait, I heard one of my gf was expecting her first child. I caught up with her again at my graduation tea party and promised her my next post will be dedicated to her. So here it is 🙂

It’s not surprising that a lot of pregnant mothers get a little curious as to what they should be eating and shouldn’t be eating especially since they are eating for two. The diet you eat while pregnant is very similar to that you eat prior to pregnancy that is if you were already on a well balanced diet. The only main difference is that you have to pay special attention to certain nutrients and increase the intake of them. You will also be increasing your intake of energy by approx 5000 – 6000 KJ per day (10%) in your second and third trimester since your metabolism increases by 15%. Also there is no need to panic about the weight gain; it is completely healthy and normal to gain around 10 – 15 kg during the whole course of the pregnancy. So please don’t be aiming for any weight loss or diets that restrict any food groups.

Pay attention to the following

1. Protein: There is additional protein needed during pregnancy to support maternal and foetal tissue growth. You should aim to eat 3 ½   servings of protein per day if you are pregnant.

One serving = 100g cooked fish fillets (that’s approx 115g raw weight); 2 large eggs (120g); 80g cooked poultry (about 100g raw weight) e.g chicken, turkey; 65g cooked red meats such as beef or lamb; or ½ cup lean mince; 1 cup (170g) cooked dried beans, lentils or canned beans

2. Calcium: During pregnancy and especially during the third trimester, your growing baby will require calcium to build health bones. The good news is your body absorbs calcium more efficiently from the food you eat during your pregnancy and another good news is that your requirements don’t change. Your usual 1000mg per day is sufficient, so you need to aim to eat 2 ½ serves of dairy foods each day.

One serving = 250ml (1 cup) fresh, UHT long life milk; 200g ( 1 small tub) ; 40g ( 2 slices) hard cheese such as cheddar . Another good source of calcium is canned fish with bones such as salmon or sardines

3. Folate and folic acid: folic acid is a B class vitamin essential in the making of red blood cells, synthesizing and repairing DNA.  Requirements increase during pregnancy for ensuring proper foetal development and mainly for the prevention of neural tube defects in babies such as spina bifida. The National Health Medical Research Council (NHMRC) recommends that in addition to a healthy diet rich in folate women need an extra 400 micrograms of folic acid a day for at least one month before conception and the first three months of pregnancy which can be achieved by taking folic acid supplements. Your doctor would have already advised you on this.

Folate rich foods include beans and legumes e.g. kidney beans, black beans, green beans; Dark leafy vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, kale, broccoli, boy choy and beets. 1 cup of lightly cooked spinach = 260 micrograms of folate. Mostly all cereals and breads are fortified with folate as well as some fruit juices. Generally most citrus fruits are rich in folate. It won’t be a mission to meet your folate needs, I promise.

4. Iron: Demand for iron increase significantly during pregnancy, especially during the second and third trimesters since blood volume increases 20% – 30% in pregnancy. It is important to prevent iron deficiency anaemia during pregnancy by eating foods that are rich in iron. A little tip to remember is to avoid milk, tea and coffee right after a meal as they interfere with the absorption process. On the other hand drinking an orange juice with your meal or other beverages/food that are a good source of Vitamic C , will enhance iron absorption from your meal. Isn’t that awesome !!!

Meat is one of the richest sources of iron particularly red meat, chicken & Fish contain iron in moderate amounts. Other iron rich foods include beans and grains, but again you have to soak them in warm water over night before cooking them to reduce their phytic acid content which reduces iron absorption   

5. Iodine: Iodine is needed to produce hormones vital to ensure normal development of the brain and nervous system before birth, in babies and young children. Therefore, it is vital that pregnant and breastfeeding women get adequate iodine. The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends that all women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or considering pregnancy, should take an iodine supplement of 150 micrograms (μg) each day. If you suffer from a pre – existing thyroid condition please seek advice from your doctor prior to taking supplements.

Iodine is present in dairy, seafood and fortified cereals. You can also find iodised Salt in Australia .

6.Zinc : Zinc is essential for normal growth and development in bones, the brain and many other parts of the body. Supplementation is not requirement for this nutrient as it is found in variety of foods.

Zinc is most easily absorbed from animal sources such as red meat, fish and dairy. Plant sources such as cereals, legumes and nuts have a much lower content compared to the previous food mentioned.

There are a couple more things that you need to know to manage the common discomforts experienced during pregnancy and also certain food safety issues that need to be followed during pregnancy as well as what foods to avoid etc, Since this post is pretty long … I will do up a different post discussing these things along with a sample meal plan

 

Hope this information is helpful and good luck to all pregnant readers

xox S & J