During Pregnancy your baby depends on what you eat to fuel its growth and development. Even before becoming pregnant, our preparation with nutrition is vital to ensure our bodies are in optimum condition to carry a child. A well-nourished mother is the first step to a healthy and happy pregnancy and baby.
Often when one becomes pregnant the apprehension of such a monumental event in your life is burdened with the fear of ‘Am I allowed eat this?’, ‘Will this harm my baby?’, ‘Should I be eating for two?’ – Follow our GourmetFuel simple tips for Pregnancy Nutrition to ensure you give yourself and your baby the best head start during this time.
- A Well Balanced Diet
In some cases when women fall pregnant they feel the need to change their diets completely. Often this is needed but if you normally eat well, enjoy a variety of foods and consider your diet balanced you are more than likely providing your body with the majority of what it needs.
You may also feel your diet could do with some improving and what better time in your life then when trying to conceive and carrying your child. Small changes to improve your diet will help benefit you and your baby in the long term.
Foods to avoid or limit
Although there is some scare mongering when it comes to foods that shouldn’t be eaten during pregnancy, there are some that warrant some caution to reduce the risk that you will become ill.
Foods made with uncooked eggs should not be eaten, this would include homemade mayonnaise.
Cheeses made with unpasteurised milk should be avoided.
Canned tuna should be limited, due to the mercury content.
High intakes of Vitamin A should be reduced. This can be seen in cod liver oil supplements or liver products such as paté.
Caffeinated products should be avoided. Choose decaffeinated version during your pregnancy.
- Healthy Fats: Mono and Poly unsaturated fats, found in foods like avocados, seeds and olive oil give us essential fatty acids that help improve the skin’s elasticity.
- Omega 3: Found in foods like oily fish, chia seeds and nuts, omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and can be particularly useful in skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
- Vitamin E: Found in almonds, pine nuts and hazelnuts, vitamin E protects cell membranes and can protect skin against free radical damage.
Load up on the Top 5 Pregnancy Nutrients: FIBRE, CALCIUM, IRON, ZINC AND FOLATE
- FIBRE: Its role in the digestive system is well known, but many people struggle to get what they need. Consuming adequate amounts of fibre will reduce pregnancy discomforts which can lead to more serious conditions. 30g of fibre a day is recommended. To increase your fibre intake eat more oats, vegetables and dried fruits, choose wholegrain, eat vegetable and fruit skins, add a sprinkle of seeds to your salads.
- CALCIUM: Calcium requirements increase when you are pregnant. Ensuring you get your adequate calcium intake is vital. We’re at a time where dairy is often avoided, particularly by women, this is significantly impacting calcium intake of child bearing aged women. It is suggested that 5 portions daily of calcium rich foods such as milk, yoghurt, sardines or tinned salmon should be consumed during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Ensuring you have adequate intake of Vitamin D will aid in Calcium absorption. Living in our sun deprived Ireland means we must find our Vitamin through diet or supplementation. Foods rich in Vitamin D include oily fish, fortified dairy and cereal products.
- IRON: As women we all know how important Iron is for our reproductive system. This remains the case during pregnancy. Iron is vital for you and your babies development. It’s essential for oxygen transportation and can be categorized into two forms, Haem and Non-Haem. Essentially, one form is more readily absorbed and is found in red meat, whereas the other is not as well absorbed and found in eggs, leafy greens and pulses. To accommodate absorption of Iron from eggs, leafy green vegetables and pulses, foods rich in Vitamin C should be consumed. These include tomatoes, citrus fruits.
- ZINC: Zinc supports your babies cell growth. Ensuring your intake is adequate is so important during pregnancy as your body is performing rapid cell growth repeatedly. This essential mineral also helps support your immune system, develop your senses and healing. Approximately 12 mg of Zinc should be consumed each day when expecting or breastfeeding. Eating a good mix of red meats, shellfish, poultry, beans, nuts and dairy will ensure you reach these goals.
- FOLATE: If you are preparing to become pregnant, this vitamin should be taken in supplement for at least three months before you become pregnant. When you become pregnant, folic acid should be taken for the first 12 weeks. Research now supports Folate’s importance in prevention on babies from developing disorders called neural tube defects.
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Rebecca is a registered Associate Nutritionist with the UKVRN through the Association for Nutrition. She completed her Bachelors of Science Degree in Nutraceuticals in Health and Nutrition before achieving her Masters Degree in Public Health Nutrition in Queen Margaret’s University, Edinburgh. Before joining the GourmetFuel team, Rebecca was a Nutrition & Allergen Menu Analyst. She is passionate about food and promoting ‘real food’ diets! She is also interested in Childhood and Elderly Nutrition.
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