Today marks the last day of national pregnancy awareness month.
There is so much research coming out about the importance of the mother’s nutritional status BEFORE, and DURING pregnancy. Your food choices before and during pregnancy have a lifelong impact on the health of your child. Wow, quite a responsibility!
For those planning to fall pregnant or who are pregnant, here are 5 tips to ensure a happy, healthy pregnancy:
1) Don’t eat for two
Often when I am assisting someone with weight loss, they tell me that they gained weight when they were pregnant, (even if that was years before) and they just never seemed to be able to lose that ‘baby weight’ afterwards. They often admit that they gained a huge amount of weight because as soon as they fell pregnant they began ‘eating for two.’ The reality is that your energy needs do not increase in the first trimester. That means that for the first trimester, you don’t need to be eating MORE food. Yes, you must eat enough nutritious food, but you don’t need more than usual. During the second and third trimesters your energy needs do increase, so you can increase your intake slightly. I suggest increasing your intake by having slightly larger portions of whole-food meals....not by indulging in junk food.
2) Supplement wisely
In the ideal case scenario, it would be great if we could get all of our necessary nutrients from our diet. However, there are certain circumstances when supplementation is not only necessary, but it is absolutely essential, such as before and during pregnancy. All women who are wanting to fall pregnant, and who are pregnant, should be supplementing with at least 400 micrograms of Folic Acid. This supplement is vital in the prevention of neural tube defects such as Spina Bifida in your baby. It is also wise to take a multivitamin (pregnancy multi-vitamins usually contain the correct amount of Folic Acid, so you probably won’t need to take a Multivitamin AND a folic acid supplement) and Omega 3 supplement. And, if you aren’t eating 2 diary portions per day, then you should take a Calcium supplement too.
3) Crowd out unhealthy cravings by eating nutrient dense foods
When one of my good friends (Tania) fell pregnant, she asked me for some tips on how to eat well during her pregnancy. The one tip I told her really stuck with her. She often reminds me of it as she said that it really helped her to manage her weight during pregnancy, and it helped her have a happy and healthy pregnancy. The tip I told her was that she must fill up on nutrient-dense nutritious REAL food. By that I mean unprocessed foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Think lots of fruits and veggies, unprocessed whole-food carbs (brown rice, sweet potato, mealies, baby potato etc), lean protein (meat, chicken, fish, eggs, legumes), and healthy fats (from nuts, seeds, avo, fatty fish, olive oil etc). When your body is receiving all of those fantastic nutrients, it will not crave the energy dense but nutrient devoid junk foods as much.
This is my friend Tania and I the night before she gave birth to her baby boy Eli. Her and her husband came around for dinner at our home...I gave them a curry to ‘help things along’, as she was overdue. It seemed to work...she went into labour the next day! It must have been my magic baby-inducing curry! ;)
4) Be active
It is no longer the olden days when woman had to stay inside and not do a single thing for a full 9 months while ‘with child!’ Staying active during pregnancy is a great way to manage your weight and promote good energy levels and a good mood throughout your pregnancy. Consult with your doctor for more specifics regarding amount, type and intensity of exercise that is appropriate for you.
5) Grow your baby’s brain with Omega 3 fats
Omega 3 fats are essential fats, which means our body cannot produce them, we need to get them from our diet. Omega 3 fats are found in fatty fish (mackerel, herring, fresh tuna, salmon, sardines, pilchards) and flaxseeds and walnuts. The typical Westernized diet is deficient in omega 3 fats. These fats are extremely important during pregnancy, as they play a vital role in your baby’s brain development. Consume fatty fish at least 3 times per week and/ or take an Omega 3 supplement throughout your pregnancy.
The extra effort put into eating well during pregnancy will be well worth it when you realise how good you can feel during pregnancy...not to mention the amazing good that all that fantastic nutrition is doing for the growth and development of your precious baby.
Click here ( http://emilydietitian.co.za/testimonial/vanessas-story) to see a 'success story' from one of my clients regarding managing their diet during pregnancy with Gestational Diabetes.
Click here (http://emilydietitian.co.za/testimonial/caths-story) to see another one of my client's success stories regarding how a healthy diet helped with a healthy pregnancy.
Click here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXWTsnfiSSU) to watch the clip of me talking on the TV show ‘Doctors Orders’, as featured on SABC 3, about a healthy eating during pregnancy.