Balance essential when it comes to pregnancy diet

Balance essential when it comes to pregnancy diet

Dietitian Aoife Hearne offers advice on nutrition and wellbeing for expectant mums.

THERE are so many myths when it comes to your health during pregnancy that it can be hard to know what to believe — so let’s clear some of those up.

Is it really just the morning time when you feel sick?

All too often in the first trimester, this is more like all- day sickness for many women. But it does pass for most.

Eating little and often can help manage nausea — even making sure you have a snack by your bedside so you can eat something before you get out of bed can help in the morning time. 

Bland foods tend to be best but often women find sour hard sweets can help also.

If you are suffering badly from morning or all-day sickness, taking a supplement, such as a multi-vitamin, can really help ensure that you are getting the nutrients you need.

How do I know if I’m getting the right amount of nutrients?

Pregnancy is a great time to get into some good eating habits that will stand to you as you become a mother. It is important to get the right vitamins into your diet while pregnant through a varied and balanced eating plan. My healthy habits checklist includes:

  • Eat a variety of foods
  • Aim to eat every three hours — ‘little and often’
  • at top allergen foods (nuts, gluten, eggs, etc) multiple times a week
  • Eat fruit, vegetables and whole foods daily
  • Choose whole grain carbohydrates for long-lasting energy
  • Increase fibre intake to 25g/day
  • Combine carbohydrates and protein at meals and snacks
  • Choose quality protein choices that are iron-rich such as red meat, eggs and nuts
  • Sip on water regularly
  • Be conscious of food safety.

Should I eat for two?

Although it might seem logical, you are not eating for two. In general, during the second and third trimester, you should eat 200–300 calories extra in the day — that’s an extra sandwich or a yogurt and some fruit.

How much weight will I gain?

During the first and second trimester, much of the weight gain is a reflection of building your tissue, placenta and blood supply to nourish your baby. 

Towards the end of the second trimester and the third trimester, most of the weight gain reflects placenta growth and of course growth of your baby.

Everyone is different, but on average a weight gain of 1lb weekly for the second and third trimester is recommended. It’s a good idea to talk to a registered dietitian to get a personalised plan for you.

Balance essential when it comes to pregnancy diet

I have been told to avoid eating fat — is this true?

Fat is not the enemy, in fact, unsaturated fat is important to general health and also when you’re pregnant. Unsaturated fat, such as omega 3 fat and monounsaturated fat are found in oily fish, nuts, seeds, and avocado.

Can I eat fish?

Yes — fish is a healthy protein choice and should be included as part of a healthy diet even while pregnant.

You should aim for 8-12 oz of fish each week. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland recommends avoiding swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish marlin and shark due to potentially high levels of mercury.

Can I eat nuts?

Avoiding allergenic foods (such as nuts, eggs, gluten) during pregnancy does not decrease risk of food allergy in the baby. 

In fact, research now suggests that eating these foods during pregnancy will provide a protective effect and reduce the risk of allergy for your baby.

What about mayonnaise?

Raw/homemade mayonnaise is best to avoid; however, mayonnaise in a jar is safe to eat. Food safety is a big concern during pregnancy due to the risk of listeriosis — a foodborne illness that can lead to miscarriage or still birth. 

It is best to avoid soft cheeses, deli meats, hot dogs and unpasteurised products. Also, wash fruits/vegetables thoroughly and avoid raw or undercooked meats.

Any tips to how to stop snacking on junk food?

By far, the best tip I can give you is to invest in a good pizza cutter for those early weeks of motherhood. 

This will allow you to cut anything with one hand and baby in the other and will make healthy snacks just as easy to grab as biscuits.

What can do for my overall health and wellness?

Keeping active is also a great way to exercise the body and mind which in turn will help your overall health and wellness. 

So, why not try to get out for a half an hour walk each day with a friend or your other half. This will allow you to keep a level of fitness throughout your pregnancy and aid with a healthy mind.

After all, a survey by Pregnacare showed that 33% of Irish mums would maintain a better level of fitness if they were to become pregnant again.

Dietitian Aoife Hearne, A mum of three, has teamed up with Pregnacare, a pregnancy supplement which provides nutritional care before, during and after pregnancy

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