Healthy Eating during Pregnancy

Healthy Eating during Pregnancy

A woman’s body provides the environment for the growth and development of a new human being and that is why adequate good nutrition plays an essential role during pregnancy.

Healthy eating during pregnancy

From conception to birth, all parts of the infant – bones, muscles, blood cells, skin and other organs – are made from the nutrients in the food that the mother eats. Nutrient needs during pregnancy and lactation are much higher compared to non-pregnant women.

Goals for Healthy eating during pregnancy:

  • Eat a variety of foods. Recommended daily servings include 6-11 servings of starch (focus on high fibre & wholegrains), 2-4 servings of fresh fruit, at least 4 serving of vegetables, 3-4 servings of dairy products and at least 3 servings of protein sources (meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts and legumes), fat should be consumed sparingly – focus on plant-based fats (nuts and seeds, avocado, peanut butter, canola oil and olive oil).
  • Take a good vitamin supplement as prescribed by your doctor/ gynaecologist
  • ↑ Calcium intake for strong bones and teeth, muscle contraction and relaxation, nerve function, normal blood pressure and for normal blood clotting. Best sources include: milk, cheese, yogurt, greens and legumes.
  • ↑ Iron intake for red cell production (to prevent anaemia), oxygen transport in the body and necessary for the utilization of energy. Best sources include: lean red meat, fish, chicken, eggs, legumes, dark green leafy vegetables and dried fruit-prunes, raisins and apricots.
  • ↑ Vitamin C intake for healthy gums, teeth and bones, strengthens resistance to infection and assists with Iron absorption. Best sources include: Citrus fruit, dark green leafy vegetables, strawberries, kiwi fruit and tomatoes.
  • ↑Folate intake for blood and protein production and effective enzyme function. Helps to protect against spina bifida (neural tube defect). Best sources include: Fortified grains, green leafy vegetables, legumes, seeds and liver.
  • ↑ Vitamin A intake for healthy skin, good eyesight, bone and tooth growth, reproduction and immunity. Best sources include: dark green leafy vegetables, deep orange fruits (apricot and cantaloupe) and vegetables (squash, carrots, sweet potato and pumpkin).

Strategies to Alleviate Maternal Discomforts:

Nausea 

  1. On waking, arise slowly
  2. Eat dry toast or crackers
  3. Chew gum or suck on hard candies
  4. Eat small, frequent meals
  5. Avoid foods with offensive odours

Constipation

  1. Eat foods high in fibre
  2. Exercise regularly
  3. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day
  4. Respond promptly to the urge to defecate

Heartburn 

  1. Relax and eat slowly
  2. Chew food thoroughly
  3. Eat small, frequent meals
  4. Drink liquids between meals
  5. Avoid spicy or fatty foods
  6. Sit up while eating, elevate your head while sleeping

If you have experience any problems that prevent you from eating balanced meals and/or gaining weight properly, ask your health care professional for advice. Tanya Alberts Dietician and Associates are available to guide you in maintaining good nutrition throughout your pregnancy.

Author: Joani Britz RD(SA)

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