Foods you should be eating
Think of going green in more than one way as a mom-to-be. “Incorporate spinach, kale, cabbage and broccoli into diet. They contain iron, folate, magnesium, vitamin C and fibre,” says Johannesburg-based registered dietitian Shani Cohen. “During pregnancy, the amount of blood in your body increases by up to 50 percent. You need more iron to make more haemoglobin for all that extra blood. So, whiz them up in your food processor, have a salad or cook some up as a side dish. And don’t forget to wash them well!”
“These are also fibrous foods, which can help with the constipation that’s often experienced during pregnancy,” adds Caylin Goodchild, a registered dietitian at Concourse Medical and Dental Centre in Johannesburg.
“People often think to avoid eggs during pregnancy, as raw egg can contain salmonella if not properly cooked,” says Johannesburg-based registered dietitian Nathalie Mat. “But hard-boiled or properly cooked pasteurised eggs are a wonderful source of choline, a nutrient that’s required in larger amounts during pregnancy and is important for the development of your baby’s brain and nervous system.”
If you’ve been hit hard by morning sickness, this one’s for you. “Some studies have shown that ginger could reduce nausea and vomiting in pregnant women, but you should stick to consuming less than 1 000 to 1 500mg per day,” Shani says. “Adding ginger to stir fries or soups, or boiling sliced ginger in water to drink will help to settle the stomach and bring relief. Ginger also helps to boost the immune system and keep blood sugar levels stable, as well as being an excellent remedy for heartburn.”
NUTS AND SEEDS
“Filled with protein, omega 3’s, folate, and vitamin E, nuts and seeds are nutrient dense and a great addition to the diet. The fibre that nuts and seeds give is also helpful in aiding digestion and preventing constipation,” Shani says. “Great ways to incorporate nuts and seeds in the diet include: topping your yoghurt or porridge with pumpkin seeds or walnuts, sprinkling cashews on your salad or adding almonds and chia seeds to a smoothie.”
Emily Innes, a registered dietitian in Cape Town, adds that incorporating foods that are rich in healthy mono-unsaturated fats, such as nuts and seeds, into each meal can also help you feel fuller for longer, while helping to reduce cravings.
“It’s important to aim for two portions of fruit per day, especially during the second and third trimester. Digestion slows down during pregnancy, which can lead to constipation. Eating fruits daily can help increase your fibre intake and make you more regular. Fruits also contain good amounts of vitamins and minerals that are essential for the development of both baby and mom’s immune systems,” Shani says.
“Try and eat fish twice a week to ensure adequate omega-3 intake,” Nathalie says. “Omega 3 is used to build baby’s brain, and good intake during pregnancy may play a role in reducing the risk of postnatal depression. To get adequate omega 3’s, focus on eating fatty-fleshed fish such as pilchards, mackerel, sardines, snoek, herring and trout. Some countries recommend limiting salmon intake, as it can be high in mercury depending on where it was caught. In the absence of local guidelines, I would recommend eating salmon sparingly.” Take an omega-3 supplement. Many prenatal vitamin packs include an omega-3 capsule, so check yours to be sure.
Foods like chickpeas, lentils, sugar beans, peas and even peanuts all belong to a group of foods that are called legumes.
Nathalie says, “They are a naturally lean source of protein and starch, as well as plenty of fibre. Adding beans to your diet will boost your fibre intake while increasing the intake of minerals such as magnesium and iron, depending on the legume eaten.” Caylin adds, “One cup of lentils can meet 90 percent of your folate needs for the day. This is a B-vitamin that’s necessary for the growth of your baby’s spinal cord and brain throughout pregnancy. Think of adding various legumes to salads, soups and stews.”
“During pregnancy you have high calcium needs, as your body uses the calcium from your diet to build strong bones and teeth for your baby,” Emily says. “Your body will always prioritise the needs of your growing baby over your own needs. So, if you don’t get enough calcium from your diet, then your body will divert its own calcium to your baby. This will end up compromising your own bones and teeth. Aim to eat two cups of dairy products per day.”
These foods include yoghurt, milk, and pasteurised hard cheese (like Cheddar, Gouda, Edam, Parmesan).