Der­val O’Rourke

Irish Examiner - Weekend - - News - Der­val O’Rourke www.der­val.ie Pic­tures: Leah Bar­bour

This week I’m chat­ting about healthy food choices whilst preg­nant which is re­ally im­por­tant for me at the mo­ment as my baby bump grows! Recipe wise it’s my Thai green chicken curry plus a de­li­cious veg­gie tomato sauce.

Eat­ing a healthy, bal­anced and var­ied diet is im­por­tant no mat­ter what life stage you are at. How­ever, dur­ing preg­nancy it be­comes even more im­por­tant as it en­sures you have a good store of nu­tri­ents to meet the de­mands of your de­vel­op­ing baby and keeps you healthy well. This is what a healthy and bal­anced preg­nancy diet looks like for me:

1) Fruit and veg­eta­bles:

These are packed with vi­ta­mins, min­er­als, an­tiox­i­dants and fi­bre. Guide­lines rec­om­mend 5-9 por­tions per day. I find that hav­ing 1/3 of my plate with veg­eta­bles or salad at each meal is a help­ful guide. Plus fill­ing up on fruit or veg­gie based snacks like an ap­ple with nut but­ter or car­rot sticks with hum­mus be­tween meals en­sures I meet these tar­gets each day.

2) Pro­tein:

Eat­ing a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent pro­tein sources in­clud­ing meat, fish, eggs and pulses is im­por­tant as our bod­ies need pro­tein to grow and re­pair. I aim to fill around a 1/3 of my plate to en­sure I meet my re­quire­ments and choose pro­tein rich snacks for an ex­tra boost if needed for ex­am­ple after a work­out. I pay spe­cial at­ten­tion to fish as ex­perts ad­vise us to eat two por­tions a week, one of which is oily (salmon, mack­erel or sar­dines). These oily fish con­tain the omega 3fats ‘DHA’ and ‘EPA’ which aid your baby’s brain and eye de­vel­op­ment and are a good di­etary source of vi­ta­min D, pro­tein and iron. If you don’t eat fish at all, you can in­clude eggs with added omega 3 and in­clude flaxseed (lin­seed).

3) Dairy:

Dairy foods are rich in cal­cium which is needed to help con­trol your blood pres­sure and for your baby’s bone de­vel­op­ment plus mus­cle func­tion. Aim for three por­tions per day which looks like a 125g pot of yo­gurt, 300ml of milk or one match­box size of cheese. A top tip would be that if you re­ally don’t feel like eat­ing but know you need some nour­ish­ment, a glass of milk is ideal as it will pro­vide you with cal­cium, pro­tein and slow re­lease en­ergy plus it will keep you hy­drated.

4) Whole­grain car­bo­hy­drates:

These will re­lease en­ergy slowly and keep you fu­elled all day. Aim to fill about 1/3 of your plate with sweet potato, oats, quinoa , whole­meal pasta and brown/ whole­meal bread. This will pro­vide your body with vi­ta­mins, fi­bre and en­ergy you and your baby need to thrive.

5) Stay hy­drated:

As a guide, aim for your urine to be pale rather than darker, this means fo­cus on stay­ing hy­drated. I know this can be chal­leng­ing when preg­nant as you might need to use the toi­let far more than nor­mal but it is re­ally worth re­mem­ber­ing to keep those fluid lev­els topped up.

6) Be mind­ful of eat­ing rub­bish:

Try to avoid foods that are high in fat, sugar and calo­ries such as bis­cuits, choco­late and sweets. Again for me this was chal­leng­ing be- cause in my first trimester I wanted all this type of food. It helped me to re­mem­ber those foods won’t nour­ish me or the baby. I have to work re­ally hard not to eat crap food whilst preg­nant and I al­ways try to ask my­self what will nour­ish me rather than make me feel a bit slug­gish af­ter­wards. I fo­cus on my food first when preg­nant but then I sup­port it with var­i­ous sup­ple­ments. The key nu­tri­ents I fo­cus on in preg­nancy in­clude:

Folic acid - I sup­ple­mented this in the lead up to be­com­ing preg­nant and after I was preg­nant, both on my first preg­nancy and on this preg­nancy. Folic acid helps pre­vent neu­ral tube de­fects (NTD) such as spina bi­fida. The guide­lines are a 400µg folic acid sup­ple­ment daily be­fore stop­ping con­tra­cep­tion and up to the 12th week of preg­nancy to help the de­vel­op­ment of your baby’s brain and spinal cord.

Vi­ta­min D–I sup­ple­ment vi­ta­min D re­gard­less of whether I’m preg­nant or not but it’s some­thing I con­tinue to sup­ple­ment whilst preg­nant. Vi­ta­min D is vi­tal for cal­cium ab­sorp­tion for you and your baby. In­clude foods rich in vi­ta­min D such as oily fish and for­ti­fied milk. A daily vi­ta­min D sup­ple­ment of 5µg is gen­er­ally rec­om­mended dur­ing preg­nancy.

Mul­tivi­ta­min/min­er­alsI’m cur­rently us­ing a mul­tivi­ta­min sup­ple­ment and chose one that is spe­cific for preg­nancy. There are great prod­ucts on the mar­ket, re­search them and chat to your phar­ma­cist be­fore choos­ing one.

Fish Oil Sup­ple­ment- I’ve taken a fish oil sup­ple­ment whilst preg­nant be­fore and again I’m tak­ing it now with this preg­nancy. What I look out for is a high qual­ity sup­ple­ment and one that is suit­able whilst preg­nant. It’s a good idea to chat to your phar­ma­cist when choos­ing one.

Fit­spi­ra­tion: @mum­mynu­tri­tion

This is a great re­source for any preg­nant lady. It gives great ideas on nutri­tion and prac­ti­cal ad­vice. It is from reg­is­tered di­eti­tian Nicola White­head. She has doc­u­mented her preg­nancy and her ex­pert tips are re­ally valu­able.

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