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Healthy Eating During Pregnancy

Written on 10th Jan 2013

Healthy Eating During Pregnancy

Healthy eating during pregnancy means eating regular meals of freshly prepared whole foods, along with adequate protein and plenty of both complex carbohydrates and those essential fats. Staying hydrated means plenty of filtered or mineral water, herb or fruit teas, along with non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids.

Foods to Include

Complex Carbohydrates:

These are the body’s primary source of fuel and provide slow releasing energy, as well as being a good source of fibre and help to prevent constipation as the pregnancy progresses.

Good sources include - fresh fruit and vegetables (raw or lightly cooked), wholegrain breads, brown rice, wild rice, millet, oats, barley, buckwheat, rye and Quinoa.

Protein

These are the building blocks of life and are used to replicate, duplicate and repair  cells and build tissue, organs, muscles, enzymes, hair, skin and hormones, and therefore protein is very important for the growing baby. Protein rich foods are also often good sources of zinc and iron – two nutrients which may become depleted during pregnancy.
Protein breaks down into over 20 amino acids of which 8 are classed as essential, in that they cannot be produced by the body and must therefore be obtained from our diet. The protein in foods can vary in both its quantity and quality. Animal sources protein such as meat, fish, game, poultry & dairy are classed as excellent sources of protein, where as plant sourced protein is usually classed as a reasonable source, because it is missing some of the essential amino acids. Therefore, vegetarians need to eat a mix of plant based proteins, so that the amino acids missing from one food can be supplied by another. As long as a variety of plant foods, such as whole grains, rice, corn, beans, legumes, oatmeal, peas and nuts & seeds are eaten over the course of a day then individual protein needs can be easily met.

Good sources include: Organic poultry (1 or 2 pieces per week), fish, goat milk, sheep milk, organic eggs, vegetarian cheese, nuts, soya, seeds and pulses.

Water

Many of us do not drink enough water, even though it is essential for many chemical reactions within the body take place.  It is advisable to drink around 2 litres of filtered or mineral water, herb or fruit teas, along with none alcoholic, non caffeinated fluids whilst pregnant.

Fats

These help to provide you with energy, build cell walls and are used to develop your sex and stress hormones. High intakes of saturated fats (think solid at room temperature and from animals) are often linked to poor health, whilst the polyunsaturated fats, especially the Omega 6 and Omega 3 series of fats that are found in nuts, seeds and oily fish, are of benefit to you and should be included in the diet.  DHA an essential fatty acid found in oily fish is very important for the development of the brain, the retina of the eye and the nervous tissue of the baby.

Good sources: Oily fish such as wild organic salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring.  Pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, evening primrose oil, olive oil, hemp oil, starflower / borage oil and linseed seed oil.

Fibre

Fibre is important during pregnancy to maintain healthy bowels and prevent constipation (particularly prevalent towards the end of the pregnancy) when straining can also often lead to post-natal piles.  The good soluble fibre can keep the stools soft and moving but without the harshness of bran.

Good sources: Whole grains, fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds.  You can also soak a tablespoon of whole linseeds in a glass of water overnight and swallow with an extra glass of water should the bowle become a little ‘sluggish’.

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