Pregnancy is an amazingly exciting time, but knowing what to eat, what not to eat and how do deal with the dreaded morning sickness, can also make pregnancy completely overwhelming.
“Eating for two” is a common myth. We would all love to be able to eat extra slices of triple chocolate fudge cake every day, all in the name of pregnancy, but extra food is actually not necessary until the second trimester. Even then, the body only requires an extra 1,400 kilojoules per day (approximately 330 calories). This is the equivalent of two pieces of toast with peanut butter. The third trimester requires a little more, an additional 1,900 kilojoules (approximately 450 calories), which is the equivalent of two pieces of toast with peanut butter and a cup of milk.
Although you don’t require a lot of extra kilojoules, your body does require more vitamins and minerals when pregnant – to oh, you know… grow a tiny human! Iron, zinc, iodine and folate are particulary important as these built the tissues such as organs, nerves and brain. Ensure that you are having healthy foods that are packed full of vitamins and minerals to provide you and your baby with these extra requirements.
Pregnancy isn’t the time to try and lose weight, or be obsessively worried about weight gain. Your main priority is providing nourishment for you and the child.
Manage morning sickness by eating smaller meals, more frequently. During my pregnancy, I ate every couple of hours to keep up the energy I required and quell the morning sickness. Smaller meals were more manager and prevented me from feeling too full.
If you can’t stomach certain foods due to morning sickness, this is ok. Don’t force yourself to eat the foods that make you sick, as this can create negative connotations surrounding this food which are hard to remove and may last beyond pregnancy. It’s important that you re-try that food again during pregnancy, because your taste and aversions do change throughout the nine months. For me, I found eggs and salad (any raw greens) made me terribly sick and I couldn’t eat red meat.
Plan and cook meals which can be portioned and frozen. Pregnancy can make you sooooo tired, and I found having meals ready to go in the freezer a great way to ensure that I did have a proper meal after work rather than just reaching for the cereal or skipping dinner when I was too exhausted to cook.
Keep up your fruits, veggies, lean meats, legumes, whole grains and dairy (if tolerated).
Carbohydrates are not only very important for providing you with energy to get through the day, but also for building your immune system. During pregnancy, your immune system is suppressed, making you more susceptible to getting sick. This means wholegrain sources of carbs such as brown rice, wholemeal pasta, cous cous and noodles; quinoa, legumes, millet, barley and sweet potato are now your very best friends!
Ask for help in the kitchen from your partner, friends or family if you are experiencing morning sickness and if you are losing weight, or struggling to keep food down, see your GP.
Tara is a university-qualified nutritionist, renowned for her no-nonsense approach to nutrition and health. She helps families learn how to live a healthy life without the need for fad diets or expensive crazy ingredients.