If you've just found out that you're pregnant, you're probably looking at ways to give your baby the best start in life. One of the most important things to consider during your pregnancy is getting your nutrition right. Not only does it improve your chances of having a healthy baby, but it also may even reduce the risk of your child developing certain chronic conditions after birth. If you want to make sure that your baby has all the nutrients needed while in the womb, here's my top tips for pregnancy nutrition.
Ensure you have a balance of these 5 must-have nutrients
While we all know that it's important to eat a variety of foods from all the food groups, this becomes even more important during pregnancy, to ensure that your baby gets the greatest combination of nutrients possible. Here are the 5 most important nutrients, and how to incorporate them into your diet:
- Protein: It's recommended that you eat an extra 10 grams of protein per day when you're pregnant. As protein is not something you can take in a tablet, this should come from food. You'll find protein in all meats and fish, dairy products, beans, lentils and nuts. So don’t shy away from hiring one of those Hog Roast machines and treating yourself to a tasty roast alongside plenty of healthy sides.
- Folic Acid: This is essential to protect your baby from neural-tube defects. Either take a supplement, or eat more spinach, lentils, and broccoli.
- Calcium: Found in dairy products, broccoli and almonds, this is essential for healthy bones and teeth.
- Fiber: Eating plenty of fiber containing foods will keep you feeling more comfortable during your pregnancy by keeping both constipation and hemorrhoids at bay.
- Fat: Don't avoid fat while you're pregnant. It's vital for the development of your baby's brain and central nervous system.
Avoid these foods during pregnancy
Some foods should be avoided when you're pregnant, as they may be contaminated with bacteria. Some of these include:
- Raw or undercooked meats and seafood. Say goodbye to sushi for 9 months
- Deli and cured meats
- Soft cheese and paté
- Processed meats containing nitrates; no more hot dogs
- Unpasteurized milk
Limit the following foods
While you don't have to cut these out of your diet completely, you should limit your consumption of:
- Caffeine. Keep to less than 3 small cups of coffee per day
- Artificial sweeteners
- Herbal teas
Don't overload on snacks
The old saying that you should eat for two should be taken with a pinch of salt. You only need an extra 300 calories a day (500 if you're having twins), so don't go eating everything in sight. Try to keep your snacks to those of the healthy variety, such as whole-grain crackers, fruit, vegetables, yoghurt and lean meats.
Keep well hydrated
While you may think the last thing you need is more water after all those endless trips to the bathroom, staying hydrated is very important during pregnancy. This is all down to the increased volume of blood in your body. What's more, staying well hydrated will give you extra energy, and help you to avoid constipation.