Foods to enjoy during pregnancy
• Ensure plenty of wholegrains (oats, brown rice, buckwheat, rye, millet, quinoa). These contain essential nutrients for pregnancy such as zinc, magnesium, calcium as well as fibre. They also release help to stabilise blood sugar levels.
• Include at least five (ideal is eight to ten) portions of fruit and vegetables in your diet each day. Fruit and vegetables are high in fibre and essential nutrients.
• Increase your intake of essential fatty acids found in oily fish, nuts and seeds. Essential fats are necessary for good brain function so will help your baby’s brain develop, and are also crucial for eyes and the development of the central nervous system. Oily fish includes salmon, mackerel, sardines, herrings, trout. Tuna is ok but in moderation (no more than once a week) as it can contain mercury. Snack on walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, pecan nuts, cashew nuts (not peanuts), pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Or sprinkle on your porridge and add to salads.
• Eat plenty of good quality protein at each meal. For example, fish, eggs (organic, free-range), lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, poultry, game, and red meat (in moderation). Protein is an important building block in the body and you need to be able to provide enough both for yourself and the growing baby.
• Buy organic when possible. Organic food does not contain pesticides, herbicides and other toxic substances. There is also some research that suggests organic food contains more nutrients than those sprayed with pesticides.
• Eat as varied a diet as possible to ensure you are getting all the nutrients you need. Don’t consume too much of one thing, e.g. wheat in pasta, bread, etc.
• Ensure you eat little and often and include carbohydrates and protein at each meal in order to maintain steady sugar levels.
• Drink lots of water to help avoid constipation. A good way to help you achieve this is to fill a 1.5 litre bottle in the morning and make sure you’ve finished it by the end of the day.
Foods to avoid during and after pregnancy
• Reduce your intake of caffeine, and ideally eliminate it completely. Caffeine in coffee, tea and Coca-Cola depletes the body of essential minerals, upsets blood sugar levels, and also enters your baby’s bloodstream so he or she has to detoxify it. Substitute with herbal or fruit teas, and drink plenty of water.
• Eliminate alcohol completely. Avoiding alcohol in the first three months of pregnancy is important and ideally should be avoided throughout pregnancy and when breastfeeding.
• Avoid sugary foods such as cakes, biscuits and chocolate. High sugar intake can cause imbalances in blood sugar level and can deplete the body’s supply of nutrients. If you get a sugar craving, snack on fruit, nuts and seeds or eat a small piece of good quality dark chocolate.
• Avoid saturated fats and hydrogenated fats. These fats can block the absorption of essential fats, and hydrogenated fats are a highly artificial product. Saturated fats are found in meat and dairy products. Hydrogenated fats are found in many processed foods such as margarines, cakes and biscuits.
• Avoid liver and cod liver oil as both are high sources of vitamin A in animal form (retinol) which can be harmful to the foetus in large quantities
• Avoid peanuts as if eaten in large quantities they can cause allergies in your baby.
• Avoid meat based pates as they can contain bacteria and are also generally made of liver.
• Avoid soft, unpasteurised cheese such as Brie, Camembert, Roquefort and Stilton, as they can contain listeria.
• Avoid raw eggs in foods such as mayonnaise, ice-cream and chocolate mousse, as they can contain salmonella. Also avoid raw fish and raw meat as they can contain bacteria which is normally killed off during the cooking process. And avoid ready-to-eat poultry and ready-to-eat salads in bags as there is a risk of listeria.
What to enjoy during and after pregnancy
• Make sure you continue to do some exercise. Yoga is great for pregnancy but ensure you tell your teacher you are pregnant.
• Relaxation – important for you and your baby.
What to avoid pre or post pregnancy
• Avoid having any mercury fillings during pregnancy as there is a risk of mercury, which is very toxic, being passed to your baby.
• Avoid painkillers.
• Do not diet!
• Avoid very smoky areas.
• Avoid exposure to chemicals as much as possible. Consider switching to a natural deodorant and using organic skin, hair and body products