Create your healthy pregnancy eating plan
When pregnant, a healthy and balanced diet is essential for mother and baby. Eating well is the best way to meet both mum-to-be and baby's needs during all 3 trimesters of pregnancy. And yes it's true; your body does need extra nutrients, vitamins and minerals to have the healthiest and happiest baby possible.
How to create a healthy pregnancy eating plan?
Ensure you have balanced and healthy eating patterns.
Don't skip meals.
Ensure you eat a wide variety of nutritious foods.
Try to keep your food as minimally processed as possible.
Fuel your body correctly. Your body needs fuel to make a healthy baby. Brown rice, whole grains, potatoes, sweet potato and corn are great whole food healthy fuel sources.
Ensure you eat plenty of fresh seasonal fruit (2 pieces per day) and vegetables (5 serves) as these will provide you with extra fuel, fibre and valuable vitamins and minerals that your body needs.
Choose a wide range of lean and healthy protein sources including lean red meat, white meat, cooked eggs, legumes and nuts, and don't forget to add in some dairy for good bone development.
Once you have established that your basic diet is healthy and nutritious, you need to be aware of the extra vitamins and minerals that are needed to make a healthy baby. When you are pregnant your body needs extra iron, calcium, omega 3s and folate. Of course, the best way to get these extra nutrients is from your food.
When you are pregnant, your baby draws a lot of iron from your body and stores it, so that he or she has a good supply for their first few months of life. Also, your body is producing more blood, so you need that extra iron for yourself too. Lean beef, lamb and duck are great sources of haem iron and your body will readily absorb it. Chicken and fish also contain some iron, and your body can also draw iron from plant sources such as green vegetables and legumes. Consuming foods that contain vitamin C such as oranges and tomatoes will help your body absorb iron, especially the iron that comes from plant foods.
Your body needs a little extra calcium whilst you are pregnant, especially during the third trimester when your baby is really growing fast! The calcium in dairy foods such as milk, yoghurt and hard cheese are rapidly absorbed. However, you can also get calcium from non-dairy sources such as; legumes, sesame seeds, dried figs and calcium-enriched soy milk, which are also great calcium sources and can be easily added to many meals and snacks.
Did you know that babies that are born from mothers who had high omega 3s in their diet have better hand/eye coordination? Omega 3s are extremely important for your baby's brain development, and they also play an important role in your mood. Post pregnancy depression is reduced in mums who have a higher omega 3 diet during their pregnancy. Marine sources of omega 3s such as salmon, sardines and trout are the most readily absorbed, but our body can also absorb omega 3s from plants sources such as flaxseed seed oil and walnuts.
Folate is so important in your baby's development that we always recommend that you supplement your diet with extra folate in the form of daily folic acid supplementation at least 1 month before falling pregnant and during the first 3 months of pregnancy. Choose healthy and fresh foods that are high in folate to ensure you get a healthy folate top-up. Broccoli, spinach, salad greens, legumes and nuts are terrific high folate foods.
Your pregnancy is a special time to really nurture you and your baby. Take the time to plan your meals and snacks in the healthiest way possible, and allow fresh food to provide you everything your body needs.
Written by Dr Naras Lapsys, Nutrition Expert.
View more Healthy eating articles