Having a healthy diet in pregnancy

iStock_000008770907XSmall_thumb

A healthy diet

It is very important to endeavour to be in optimal nutritional health before you conceive and in pregnancy. When you are pregnant you are feeding two not one!

Because of chemical additives in the food you buy in the supermarket, etc. it is very had to eat well in pregnancy. Learn to read food labels (you will get a lot of surprizes) and try to focus on the right foods. Avoid fast foods, take-away, junk food and soft drinks.

Weight gain during pregnancy varies between women. It is normal to gain 12-14kg during pregnancy. Not only can excess weight gain have an adverse impact on your health and your baby’s health but also excess weight gain in pregnancy is hard to lose afterwards. There has been many a woman who has ‘lost her figure’ because of excess weight gained in pregnancy.

There are many excellent resources for you to read. See the links below. You can also see a dietician for further advise.

Look after your baby’s health

As well it is known that having a poor quality diet in pregnancy puts your future child at risk of obesity and long term health disorders. The foundations of childhood obesity have to do with a mother having poor eating habits while her baby in in her uterus. As well if you don’t learn how to eat healthy while pregnant what hope do you have of teaching your child healthy eating habits?

Include in your diet

Endeavour to eat a wide variety of nutritious foods including  Bread (wholegrain or wholemeal rather than white), cereals (choose one low in sugar), rice, pasta and noodles, vegetables and legumes, fruit, low fat milk, yoghurt, hard cheese, well cooked meat, fish, poultry, cooked eggs and nuts. Try to have food with a wide range colour, which implies a wide range of natural vitamins and minerals.

A diet generous in folate is important pre-pregnancy and in the first trimester. The recommended daily folate dose is 400 to 600 micrograms. Folate supplement are important. As well make sure your diet contains food with a rich source of folic acid such as green leafy vegetables (broccoli, sprouts, spinach and salad greens), chick peas, nuts, oranges and grapefruits, orange juice, some fruits and dried or lightly cooked beans and peas. wholemeal bread, seeds, liver and other organ meats, poultry, fortified breakfast cereals and enriched grain products.

Iron. You will have checks for iron deficiency at the start and at 28 weeks of your pregnancy, to make sure there is no iron deficiency. Iron demands are greater in pregnancy.  The recommended daily intake (RDI) of iron during pregnancy is 27mg per day.  Iron supplementation is important in pregnancy. Good sources of iron include lean beef and lamb, poultry, fish and shellfish, breakfast cereals fortified with iron, eggs, cooked legumes such as chick peas, lentils, kidney and lima beans, dried fruits, green vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and spinach. Eating foods high in vitamin C will also help you to absorb iron if you consume them at the same time.

The recommended daily intake of calcium during pregnancy is 1000mg to 1300mg per day.  As well as calcium containing supplements, good sources of calcium include dairy foods, such as milk, hard cheese, yoghurt and calcium–fortified soy milk.

Adequate iodine intake is important in pregnancy. Iodine deficiency is an increasingly common problem in the community.  Most breads, except organic varieties, are fortified with iodine which will help to address the iodine needs of most of the population. However, pregnant and breastfeeding women have higher requirements for iodine so some women may need to take a supplement.

Food poisoning

Endeavour to minimise your risk of food poisoning in pregnancy by

Care with cold foods

  • Keep the fridge below 5oC.
  • Put any food that needs to be kept cold in the fridge straight away.
  • Don’t eat food that’s meant to be in the fridge if it’s been left out for two hours or more.
  • Defrost and marinate food in the fridge, especially meats.
  • Shop with a cooler bag, picnic with an esky.

Care with hot foods

  • Cook foods until they are steaming hot.
  • Reheat foods until they are steaming hot.
  • Cook meat fully. Make sure there is no pink left in cooked meats such as mince or sausages.
  • Make sure there are no clear juices before eating freshly cooked chicken or pork.
  • Heat to boiling all marinades containing raw meat juices before serving.

Care with kitchen hygiene

  • Wash and dry your hands thoroughly before starting to prepare or eat any food, even a snack.
  • Keep benches, kitchen equipment and tableware clean.
  • Separate raw and cooked food, and use different cutting boards and knives for each.
  • Don’t let raw meat juices drip onto other foods.
  • Avoid eating food that was made by someone who is unwell, especially if they have diarrhoea.

Check the food label

  • Don’t eat food past the use-by date.
  • Note the best before date.
  • Follow storage and cooking instructions.
  • Ask for information about unpackaged foods.

Eating fish safely

Fish are rich in protein and minerals, low in saturated fat, and contain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for the development of the central nervous system in babies, before and after they are born.

Although it’s important to eat fish during pregnancy and breastfeeding choose, fish likely to contain low mercury levels. Higher levels of mercury are more likely in larger fish such as shark (flake) and billfish (swordfish, marlin).  Avoid raw fish.

Alcohol

Extreme alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead foetal alcohol syndrome (slow growth before and after birth, and mental disabilities). Excess alcohol has been associated with miscarriage, stillbirth and premature labour.

It is not known whether there is a safe level of drinking during pregnancy, so most pregnant women avoid drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Personally, I have no concern with you having the occasional drink such as to celebrate at a wedding, birthday, New Year’s Eve, etc.

Caffeine

Caffeine in moderation is safe during pregnancy, but excessive amounts may increase your risk of miscarriage and premature birth. Caffeine is in coffee, tea, chocolate and cola (and some other soft drinks).  NSW Health recommends that pregnant women limit themselves to 200mg of caffeine daily. That amount would be obtained from about 1-2 cups of espresso style coffee, 3 cups of instant coffee, 4 cups of medium strength tea, 4 cups of cocoa or hot chocolate, or 4 cans of cola. Avoid double shots of espresso coffee and drinks marked as sports or energy drinks that contain caffeine.

Smoking

Smoking should cease. It is dangerous for your baby. Smoking increases the risk of premature birth, low birth weight, respiratory problems and SIDS. There is no safe level of smoking.

Also see:

 

Posted by Dr Gary Sykes on - Staying Healthy in Pregnancy

Leave a comment