Nutrition for Pregnant Mums
The New Year is a time to reflect on the old and commit to new and positive changes. It is not surprising that at least 70% of people include losing weight or starting a new exercise regime in their list of resolutions. However if you are pregnant then losing weight is not an option. This does not mean that you can ignore the scale though. A healthy weight gain in pregnancy is normal and you should expect to put on between 10- 12.5kg (22-28lb).
Weight gain varies a great deal and depends on your weight before pregnancy. Much of the extra weight is due to the baby growing. Putting on too much weight can affect your health and increase your blood pressure. Equally, it is important that you do not diet, but eat healthy.
So if you are pregnant then here are some tips for making healthy choices over the next nine months.
Nutritious and Delicious
Fruit and Vegetables
As well as vitamins and minerals, fruit and vegetables provide fibers, which help digestion and prevent constipations. Eat at least five portions of fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced fruit and vegetables each day. Always wash them carefully. To get the most out of vegetables, eat them raw or lightly cooked.
Bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods
Carbohydrates are satisfying without containing too many calories, and are in important source of vitamins and fibre. They include breads, potatoes, breakfast cereals, pasta, rice, oats, noodles, maize, millet, yams, cornmeal and sweet potatoes. These food should be the main part of every meal. Eat wholegrain varieties when you can.
Meat, Fish, Eggs, Beans and other non-diary sources of protein
Protein includes meat (except liver), fish, poultry, eggs, beans, pulses and nuts. These foods are all good sources of nutrients. Eat moderate amounts each day. Choose lean meat, remove the skin from poultry and cook using only a little fat. Make sure eggs, poultry, pork, burgers and sausages are cooked all the way through. Check that there is no pink meat and the juices have no pink or red in them. Try to eat two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily fish. There are some fish that you should avoid.
Foods and drinks that are high in fat and/or sugar
This food group includes all spreading fats, oils, salad dressings, cream, chocolates, crisps, biscuits, pastries, ice cream, cake, puddings and fizzy drinks. You should only eat a small amount of these foods. Sugar contains calories without providing any other nutrients that the body needs. Having sugary food and drinks too often can cause tooth decay, especially if you have them between meals. If we eat more that we need, this can lead to weight gain. Eating more fatty foods is likely to make you put on weight. Having too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which increases the chance of developing heart disease. Try to cut down on food that is high in saturated fat and have foods rich in unsaturated fat instead.
Milk and dairy foods
Dairy foods like milk, cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais are important because they contain calcium and other nutrients that your body needs. Eat two or three portions a day, using low-fat varieties whenever you can – for example, semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, low-fat yoghurt and half-fat hard cheese. However, there are some cheeses that you should avoid.
Food to avoid
There are some foods that you should not eat when you are pregnant because they may make you ill or harm your baby.
You should avoid:
• Some types of cheese.
Don’t eat mould-ripened soft cheese, like Brie, Camembert and others with a similar rind. You should also avoid soft blue-veined cheese, like Danish Blue. These are made with mould and they can contain listeria, a type of bacteria that can harm your unborn baby. Although listeriosis is a very rare infection, it is important to take special precautions during pregnancy because even the mild form or the illness in the mother can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or severe illness in a newborn baby. You can eat hard cheeses such as cheddar cheese, mozzarella and cheese spreads.
. Avoid all types of pate, including vegetable pates, as they can contain listeria.
• Raw or partially cooked eggs.
Make sure that eggs are thoroughly cooked until the whites and yolks are solid. This prevents the risk of salmonella food poisoning. Avoid foods that contain raw and undercooked eggs, such as home-made mayonnaise.
• Raw or undercooked meat.
Cook all meat and poultry thoroughly so that there is no trace of pink or blood. Take particular care with sausages and minced meat. It is fine to eat steaks and other whole cuts of beef and lamb rare, as long as the outside has been properly cooked or sealed.
• Liver products.
Don’t eat liver, or liver products like liver pate or liver sausage, as they may contain a lot of vitamin A. Too much vitamin A can harm your baby.
• Supplements containing Vitamin A.
Don’t take high-dose multivitamin supplements, fish liver oil supplements or any supplements containing Vitamin A.
• Some types of fish.
Don’t eat shark, marlin and swordfish, and limit the amount of tuna you eat to no more than two tuna steaks a week (about 140g cooked or 170g raw each) or four medium sized cans of tuna a week (about 140g drained). These types of fish contain high level of mercury, which can damage your baby’s developing nervous system. Don’t eat more than two portions of oily fish per week. Oily fish includes fresh tuna (but not canned tuna), salmon, mackerel, sardines and trout.
• Raw Shellfish.
Eat cooked rather that raw shellfish as they can contain harmful bacteria and viruses that can cause food poisoning.
If you would like to eat peanuts or food containing peanuts (such as peanut butter) during pregnancy, you can choose to do so as part of a healthy balanced diet, unless you are allergic to them or your health professional advises you not to.
• Unpasteurized milk.
Drink only pasteurized or UHT milk which has been pasteurized. Don’t drink unpasteurized goats’ or sheep’s milk or eat certain food that is made out of them, e.g. soft goats’ cheese.
By Karen Wilmot