Nutrition for Pregnancy: Top 10 Tips Part 2
In this two part series, nutritional therapist Jodie Abrahams gives 10 tips for what to eat and drink to help you feel your best during pregnancy.
*Read Jodie's top five tips in part 1 of this nutrition for pregnancy article
Eat the rainbow
This might feel easier said than done when you're in the throes of first-trimester queasiness and only want beige things to pass your lips. But colourful fruit and veg contain a range of nutrients that are particularly important when you're growing a baby, such as vitamin C, folate and beta carotenes.
There are plenty of easy switches you can engineer to make meals more colourful and nutrient-dense. They just need a bit of forethought.
- Add some spinach and berries to a banana and oat smoothie for breakfast
- Switch your lunchtime baked potato for a sweet potato
- Make a kale and almond pesto to go with your bowl of (wholegrain) pasta for dinner
Ditch the stimulants
Caffeine and sugar have a stimulating effect on the nervous system, which can throw your energy levels, mood and concentration completely off balance.
Caffeine raises your heart rate and blood pressure and acts as a diuretic, which can make you dehydrated. It also crosses the placenta, so can affect your baby. The NHS recommends that pregnant women drink no more than 200mg caffeine per day (the equivalent of two cups of instant coffee).
Steady on the blood sugar
Keeping your blood sugar stable is vital for maintaining balanced energy levels and avoiding peaks and troughs throughout the day. Keeping blood sugar on an even keel can also help to reduce nausea and hormonal mood swings.
Focus on reducing refined carbohydrates and simple sugars in your diet - things like white bread, white pasta, pastries, cakes, chocolate and biscuits will all cause your blood sugar to spike. Instead opt for wholegrains, like brown rice, wholegrain breads and pasta, quinoa and oats which have a slower release of energy.
Listen to your body
Our bodies are pretty clever at telling us what we need. Fancy a steak? Maybe you need to boost your iron levels. Craving some greens? It could be the Vitamin C.
Try to focus on how you're feeling when you crave certain foods. If you want to eat a whole packet of hobnobs, is it because your body 'needs' the sugar? Or maybe you're actually tired and looking for a quick energy fix. Try some almond butter on an oatcake or a homemade energy ball and an early night instead. While that might feel tricky in the moment, use the thought of how much better you'll feel for it afterwards as a motivator.
Focus on real food
Cooking with wholefoods is the best way to ensure that you're getting a broad range of nutrients in your diet without any suspicious additives or nutrient losses from processing.
Processed foods often contain additional salt, sugar, preservatives, flavourings and fats that don't have any nutritional benefits. Take the guesswork out of what you're eating, and prepare as much as you can at home with ingredients that you recognise.
If you're short on time, stock your freezer with frozen or pre-chopped fruit and veg, pre-cook grains and keep some eggs in the fridge so you've always got something available to throw together a quick meal with.
While supplements should never replace a balanced diet, taking a good quality pregnancy multi-vitamin and mineral acts like an insurance policy. It ensures you are getting the right levels of the nutrients you require every day.
Many pre-natal supplements are suitable to continue throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding, meaning you can keep it simple.
The tips in this article are generic, and do not take into account individual nutritional needs or replace medical advice. For personalised nutrition and lifestyle support, see Jodie's consultation plans at www.jodieabrahams.com. For any health concerns, always consult a medical professional.