During pregnancy your nutritional requirements multiply, so eating correctly is essential.
But remember, what you need is nutrients for two –
not kilojoules for two!
Whole and unrefined foods
Ensure your diet is rich in fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes and unprocessed foods. Eating foods that are in their natural state (or very close to it) will provide good quantities of essential nutrients that are often lost in the processing of foods.
Organic and bio-dynamic
Chemicals and pesticides often found in food can cross the placenta and can affect the developing baby. Choosing organic means you are reducing your exposure to these chemicals. Better still, organic food has been found to contain more nutrients than conventional food.
Fish 2 to 3 times a week
Fish is a great source of protein and essential omega-3 fatty acids, important for the baby's nervous system and brain development. Avoid excessive amounts of large fish, such as marlin, swordfish, orange roughy, catfish and shark. These predatory fish are at the top of the food chain, so they may contain a higher accumulation of heavy metals such as mercury.
Protein with every meal
Protein is essential for the growth and development of your baby, and will support your nervous system and help maintain your energy levels throughout the pregnancy. According to the Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand, the recommended daily intake (RDI) for protein in pregnancy is 60 g per day. This goes up to 67 g per day during breastfeeding. To reach these levels, you should eat protein with every meal: for example, lean meat or poultry (organic), fish, eggs, tofu and legumes.
Healthy oils and fats
Choose healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, seeds, olives, fish and extra virgin olive oil. These will supply you and your baby with the essential fatty acids required for nervous system and brain development. Avoid a diet high in saturated fats found in animal products.
Make sure your cupboard is stocked with fresh nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts and macadamias, which are high in protein and have a low glycaemic index (GI). Other nutritious snack ideas include pure yoghurt with fruit, hummus with rice crackers or vegetable sticks, and toast with avocado and tomato. Or set aside 20 minutes one Saturday morning and bake yourself a batch of delicious, nutritious wholegrain muffins.
Water prevents dehydration and allows proper elimination of waste. Aim for two litres of filtered water every day, and you will reduce the likelihood of fluid retention and constipation.
Watch the sugar
Limit your intake of refined sugars. Use natural sweeteners such as fruit sugars or purees, maple syrup and honey. Excessive intake of refined sugars will encourage weight gain, which may be difficult to lose after the baby is born.