When pregnant, your ultimate goal is to eat as healthily and nutritiously as possible to provide your body with a diverse array of vitamins and minerals. Prenatal nutrition emphasises on the consumption of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and dairy products. There are also a couple things to avoid, which we will talk about later on.
First things first, let’s talk about fruits and vegetables. Professionals recommend that pregnant women focus on fruits and vegetables in their second and third trimesters. Experts say that 5 to 10 tennis ball-sized servings of fruit and veg per day are ideal for a growing life inside. When dishing up a meal, start with half a plate of fruit or veg.
Next is lean protein, an important part of the diet that requires some care to prepare. Pregnant women benefit from consuming good protein sources that support the baby’s growth in a healthy way. Protein rich foodstuffs include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, cheese, nuts and seeds. Take care when cooking meat products to ensure they are cooked entirely through. Furthermore, eggs should be FULLY cooked, to be classified as safe for pregnant women. For portion size guideline, fill a quarter of the plate with lean protein.
Whole grains are an important consideration when looking at a pregnant woman’s carbohydrate consumption. Whole grains are critical for providing energy to mother and baby, as well as fibre, iron and B-vitamins. A pregnant woman should opt for whole grains over refined carbs as much as possible, choosing brown rice, whole wheat pasta and breads. In terms of portion size, fill a quarter of your plate with whole grain carbs.
When considering dairy, pregnant women should aim for 3 to 4 servings per day. These foodstuffs include milk, yoghurt, and cheese and are responsible for bringing additional calcium, protein and vitamin D to the diet. Consider having a serving of dairy with every meal to habituate this must-have.
Foods to Avoid
There are a number of things that pregnant women should avoid eating and drinking to ensure their safer health and that of their baby. Below, we have listed a number of foodstuffs to avoid as well as a short explanation of why they are not so good for you during pregnancy.
It goes without saying that alcohol should not be consumed during pregnancy. Alcohol passes from the mother’s blood through the placenta and negatively impacts the baby’s development, causing physical problems, learning and behavioural difficulties.
Certain fish should be avoided, namely those that accumulate high levels of mercury. Swordfish, shark, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy and tilefish are known to accumulate more mercury than other species, and should be avoided during pregnancy to reduce the risk of toxicity and developmental issues in the baby’s nervous system and kidneys.
There are also various unpasteurised foods that pregnant women should avoid to reduce the risk of two types of food poisoning: listeriosis and toxoplasmosis. Various healthcare bodies say that pregnant women should avoid the following:
- Raw unpasteurised milk and foods made with it, such as feta, brie, camembert, blue-veined cheeses, queso blanco and queso fresco.
- Hot dogs and luncheon meats, unless heated to piping hot beforehand to kill bacteria.
- Store-bought deli salads including absolutely any meat products.
- Unpasteurised refrigerated meat spreads or patés.
Similarly, raw meat can be problematic and lead to toxoplasma infection in the mother and baby. Pregnant women should therefore avoid:
- Rare, raw or undercooked meat and poultry.
- Raw fish including sushi, sashimi, ceviche or carpaccio.
- Raw and undercooked shellfish of any kind.
Pregnancy is the time where women can feel empowered to follow a healthy and balanced diet, knowing it will strengthen their bodies and their babies’ development. If you have any doubts, chat to your specialist doctor about their dietary recommendations.
Stay tuned to the Phrog Designs blog for more informative and inspirational articles that can guide you through pregnancy and beyond.
The Phrog Team