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.
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:
- On waking, arise slowly
- Eat dry toast or crackers
- Chew gum or suck on hard candies
- Eat small, frequent meals
- Avoid foods with offensive odours
- Eat foods high in fibre
- Exercise regularly
- Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day
- Respond promptly to the urge to defecate
- Relax and eat slowly
- Chew food thoroughly
- Eat small, frequent meals
- Drink liquids between meals
- Avoid spicy or fatty foods
- 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.