Dr Rana Conway, a registered nutritionist and one of the country’s leading experts on nutrition in pregnancy, here she shares tips and advice to help all you expectant mums, eat well and avoid junk food, during pregnancy.
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The first 1,000 days of life, from conception to a child’s second birthday, are the most significant for health and development. A mum-to-be who eats a healthy, varied, diet can have a positive impact on the lifelong health and eating habits of her child – but it’s not always so easy to eat a healthy diet.
In the first trimester eating at least a small breakfast can help relieve the symptoms of morning sickness, and breakfast eaters are more likely to get all the nutrients they need than those who skip it. If you don’t have breakfast, the tendency can be to reach for unhealthy snacks that are high in sugar and fat, and low in essential vitamins and minerals.
In the second trimester the morning sickness can ease off and you might have more energy, so it’s a good time to think about what you are eating.
In fact it’s only in the last trimester, that you need the extra 200 kcal a day people talk about, as your baby’s weight increases to get ready for birth.
Opt for low GI snacks, which will help keep you feeling fuller for longer, like a slice of granary toast with mashed avocado, black pepper and lemon juice, or a handful of nuts.
Mums-to-be often develop a sweet tooth or, crave salty snacks during pregnancy, but there is no evidence that your body needs what you crave. The problem with eating more junk food is that you end up eating less of the good stuff. Plus, when mums-to-be eat a high Glycaemic Index (GI) diet (and most junk foods are high GI foods), babies in the womb are exposed to slightly higher levels of glucose.
So why not try a junk food swap to help keep cravings under control?
6 Junk Food swaps to keep cravings under control:
Chocolate. SWAP WITH: strawberries dipped in a good quality dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa solids.
Ice cream. SWAP WITH: sliced banana with natural yogurt, a swirl of honey and some flaked almonds
Crisps. SWAP WITH: plain or lightly salted popcorn.
Cake. SWAP WITH: toasted wholemeal bagel with mashed banana and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Fizzy drinks. SWAP WITH: Pure fruit juice mixed with sparkling water.
- Chewy sweets. SWAP WITH: a small handful of dried apricots or raisins.
5 Top Tips to help avoid food cravings:
Eat a hearty breakfast to prevent you reaching for a mid-morning muffin.
Eat low GI carbs, like wholegrain bread, and protein-rich foods like nuts, seeds, Greek yogurt and hard boiled eggs, along with lots of fruit and veg to help you feel fuller, for longer.
Eat regularly – two to three snacks a day, in addition to three meals, will help ensure blood sugar levels never reach rock bottom.
Have healthy snack foods ready at work and home, so you are not tempted by a quick fix.
- Get an early night - being tired can make you eat more and often choose the wrong types of food.
5 Mum-to-be and bump boosting foods
Broccoli: rich in iron and a good source of Vitamin C, which helps iron absorption. Also low in fat and high in folate.
High fibre breakfast cereals: a good start to the day and ideal for snacking, the fibre will help keep your digestive system working well (most cereals have added vitamins and iron, but watch out for added sugar)
Bananas: a great source of potassium to help regulate blood pressure and prebiotics (carbohydrates that friendly gut bacteria feed on).
Salmon: packed with long-chain omega 3s for your baby’s brain and eye development.
- Berries: full of antioxidants that may help reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia and your baby’s risk of allergies.
Dr Rana is working with Organix baby and toddler foods, and has contributed to the Organix Little Book of Good Food – Bump to Baby.
It covers advice on a healthy diet to nourish your growing baby, ideas on how to cope with food cravings, and useful tips on how you can avoid the junk.
You can download your free copy at www.organix.com/bumptobaby
You’ll find some of Dr Rana Conway’s tasty and healthy pregnancy recipe ideas for each trimester, at www.organix.com/recipes/bumptobaby