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What should you really eat (and not eat) when you’re pregnant?

November 19th 2014 / Ayesha Muttucumaru Google+ Ayesha Muttucumaru

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We asked a duo of fertility experts about the best foods, supplements and healthy diet recommendations to benefit both mother and baby during pregnancy

What should the contents of your cupboard and fridge look like when you’re expecting? Is ‘eating for two’ still an accepted concept? “Eating for two is outdated as the mechanisms for absorption and metabolism of nutrients is more efficient during pregnancy,” says Victoria Wells, nutritionist at the Emma Cannon Clinic. “An extra 200kcal is needed in the third trimester only. It is not advisable to diet during pregnancy but it is also important not to gain too much weight,” she adds.

According to fertility specialist and Get The Gloss Expert Emma Cannon, “Obesity is linked to higher incidents of miscarriage and preterm labour.” She adds, “Exercise is beneficial at all stages of pregnancy to improve fitness and help weight management. Walking is good, as is yoga. Do not over-exercise and do not exercise when tired or unwell. Rest is as important as exercise so get a good balance.”

How about a healthy diet? We asked Emma and Victoria for their recommendations of the foods we should eat and the foods we should not eat during pregnancy. With their top picks for supplements and morning sickness cures included too, this will hopefully help take some of the stress out of your pregnancy to leave you more time to prepare mentally for the amazing and exciting next step of motherhood.

What to eat when pregnant...

Nuts and seeds which are rich in essential fatty acids.

Wholegrain carbohydrates: these give slow release of energy. Increase your intake of fibre to help with constipation.

Small amounts of meat and fish: it is important to have good sources of protein from meat and omega 3 essential fatty acids from oily fish for bone and brain development.

Dietary sources of iron: to prevent iron deficiency and anaemia during pregnancy, plus for new tissue for mother and baby. Also in preparation for blood loss when giving birth.

Foods that are a source of iron (other than red meat) include dark green leafy vegetables (for example kale and spinach), lentils, nuts and seeds, eggs and dried fruit such as apricots and prunes. These foods provide non-haem iron that is better absorbed by the body when vitamin C is consumed at the same time and also if eaten together with haem iron sources (such as meat and fish).

Bone broth: this is highly nutritious and contains lots of nutrients which are essential for good health. Boiling bones releases minerals and in Chinese medicine and many other cultures, it is seen as a good female tonic and curative food.

Eat from a wide range of foods and include lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.

MORE GLOSS: 20 things you should never say to a new mum

What not to eat when pregnant...

Pâté: all types, including vegetable pâté can contain the bacteria listeria which may be harmful for your baby.

Raw meats: carries a potential risk of toxoplasmosis, an infection which although rare, can be harmful to your baby. It’s caused by a parasite found in soil, untreated water, cat faeces and meat.

Liver: This contains too much vitamin A, the levels of which are considered unsafe.

Raw shellfish: Due to the risk of food poisoning caused by damaging bacteria and viruses.

Unpasteurised cheeses: Due to harmful microorgansisms which may be dangerous to the baby.

Some fish: Shark, swordfish and marlin in particular.

Tuna: When pregnant, eat no more than four cans of tuna per week.

Alcohol: this may hinder the baby’s development and could lead to premature birth and health problems. This is thought to be because the ‘liver is one of the last organs to develop fully and doesn’t mature until the latter stages of pregnancy’ according to www.nhs.uk.

Caffeine: Aim to have no more than 200mg a day as high amounts can result in lower birth weights and even miscarriage.

While caution is recommended, ensure that worry and anxiety about your diet doesn’t take over your life. “Try not to worry about everything you eat, the important thing is to eat well and not to stress about every aspect of your life,” advises Emma. “Food can become a real source of control in our lives and this isn't healthy.”

MORE GLOSS: How to get your you-know-what back in shape after giving birth

Morning sickness cures...

1) Keep hydrated.

2) Small frequent snacks.

3) Acupuncture is very helpful for morning sickness, and wearing sea sickness bands are helpful.

4) Ginger is good for some types of sickness, but not all. A good tip is to look to see if your tongue is red. If it is, it is best to avoid ginger. If it is pale or coated in white, then ginger can help.

Supplements in pregnancy...

In addition to a healthy diet, Emma and Victoria suggest taking the following supplements to ensure you get all of the vitamins and minerals you need during your pregnancy:

- Folic acid during your first trimester.

- Omega 3 supplements if you don’t meet the recommendation of one oily fish portion per week, to help development of the brain, the eyes and the nervous system. (Eating oily fish may lower anxiety during pregnancy).

- Vitamin D: a 10 microgram supplement should be taken daily.

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