Nutritional tips for pregnancy and beyond!
Nutrition during pregnancy
A balanced diet goes without saying, and one good guide whether your plate of food looks colourful, this often gauges how rich your meal is in nutrients. Colour also reflects variety of food groups in your meal.
What to eat and what not to eat?
You will have heard lots on this topic, and main things I want to reiterate is limiting foods with high vitamin A and oily fish portions. This means avoid foods really high in vitamin A like liver and liver pate. As for oily fish, farmed salmon contains pollutants from the sea and their food and wild salmon contain less pollutants, this is why is recommended to eat no more than 2 portions a week. Oily fish are great sources of omega 3 (essential fatty acids - liquid fats) but there are other sources of food that you can get these from, like hemp seeds, linseeds and extra virgin oil.
Eating for two?
How much do we need to eat during each stage of pregnancy? The simple answer is just eat your normal sized meals and healthy snacks in your first and second trimester, as your body and baby do not need any extra calories, unless of course you are exercising or are very physically active, then you will need a little more according to what level of activity you do. I will come back to this below,
By your third trimester your baby will need a little more, roughly 200 calories a day, this could be 1 cup of sliced strawberries in 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt or a fruit and nut bar with herbal tea. This should give you the idea that 200 calories is not much at all!
Active Pregnancy and food
I mentioned food intake if you are very active in pregnancy should increase, but if you have been just as physically active before pregnancy you will not need to increase your food intake. If you feel your activity level is decreasing food intake can be altered too. If putting on additional weight is something you want to manage this is a good way. There is no getting away from putting weight on as you will retain more water in your body and of course the tummy will enlarge. Understanding what you are eating and how much you roughly need balanced with physical activity is a good start. But don't beat yourself up if you have off days, or just can't manage to fit physical activity in on some days, make up for it on other days and get out for walks.
Also remember dieting during pregnancy is a big no no, stating the obvious I hope, your baby needs lots of nourishment, which your food intake will supply. If weight is something you are conscious of either try to lose the weight before becoming pregnant or keep active and eat healthily throughout your pregnancy.
Nutrition for breast feeding
If you are planning or are breastfeeding you have made an amazing choice. And if you are experiencing difficulties breastfeeding, do try to persevere and seek help and advise from your midwife or health visitor, you are not alone. Relax and be calm breast feeding your baby, they are in-tune to you more than you may realise, and enjoy this time. You probably know the many benefits, keep thinking of these, lose baby weight, bonding, convenient and free!
Getting your food right
This is just another thing to think about I know, but if you plan ahead and bulk cook and freeze meals when you can this is a great start. Then all you need to do is add a rich coloured salad to your meal and you have a balanced plate of food. Or just add fish, chicken or meats with some bread to a salad for quick meals.
Snacking is good too, to keep eating regular, just watch out for really sugary cereal bars, instead try vegetable sticks and dips, fruits and Greek yogurt with manuka honey and fruit. Fruit is one of the best fast foods available, and usually has longer sustaining energy than a biscuit and has a lot more nutrients.
For your body to supply breast milk you're going to need to drink plenty of fluids like water, juice and herbal teas. Around 1-2 litres a day is recommended for most breastfeeding mums.
Struggling to keep your fluids up, try keeping a bottle of water to hand and make sure you're refilling it regularly. If you don't like add water, there are some lovely organic dilute juices you can buy that don't contain lots of rubbish and are often low in sugar.
Foods to limit or avoid
If you can try to limit or avoid teas and coffees, as the caffeine is excreted into your breast milk, which can keep your baby awake! Also newborn / young babies cannot metabolise caffeine easily and often can become jittery and unhappy.
Also limit your oily fish to 2 portions a week, just as in pregnancy, as they live in pollutant water which will pass to your baby. There are no limits to other fish however. Essential fatty acid (liquid fats) are found in linseeds, hemp seeds and extra virgin oil.
Avoid temptation to diet
If you're feeling overweight, breast feeding will help lose some of those extra pounds put on during pregnancy and keep eating healthily. Also remember once you've had the all clear from your GP you can start exercising to shed some pounds and build your strength back up.