Eating for two can be a nerve-wracking responsibility, especially with so much conflicting information.
Is it important to eat enough fish, or does it contain too much mercury? Do you need meat for protein, or is it too fatty? Are eggs okay, or do they have too much cholesterol?
It’s enough to make you want to throw your hands up and dive into the nearest bag of candy bars. But there are lots of ways to ensure that you and your baby are both getting the nutrients you both need.
Here’s advice from nutrition experts on their top pregnancy foods. You don’t need to like or eat them all, but pick and choose your favorites to give your pregnancy a nutritional boost.
Easy to snack on and great for topping up iron stores: one handful gives you 10% of your daily iron requirement. They also contain folic acid, potassium, calcium and magnesium. They will also help keep your bowel from becoming sluggish as your pregnancy progresses.
Bread, pasta and potatoes. These give you energy – and you’ll need increasing amounts of energy as you approach your due date. Eat four to six portions a day.
Choose cereals fortified with vitamins and folic acid. A bowl of wholewheat cereal with milk is a fantastic pick-me-up if you get an energy slump during the day. Just one bowl a day can provide up to 100mcg of folic acid.
Rich in potassium, bananas are good for reducing fluid retetnion and maintaining a healthy fluid balance. They also contain tryptophan which helps to promote sleep. A great starchy, energy-boosting snack.
The best source of calcium, vital for bone development in babies. Eat three portions a day, but choose low-fat products to keep saturated fat levels low.
Low-fat versions contain as much calcium as their full-fat counterparts. A fantastic source of this vital nutrient if you don’t like to drink milk.
For non-meat eaters, this is an excellent source of protein that is also rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A and vitamin K – essential for normal blood clotting, particularly after the birth.
FRUIT AND VEG
Eat five portions a day. The vitamins and minerals help your baby develop normally. You will still need some supplements – folic acid – but should get nutrients from food wherever you can. Try to ensure that everything that passes your lips while pregnant will have some sort of beneficial effect on either you or your baby – or both!
Try steaming or mashing with a little olive oil. A good source of energy, and packed with calcium, vitamin C and betacarotene – a vegetable source of vitamin A, vital for skin and eye development.
Full of vitamin C (good for healthy skin and immunity), beta-carotene, folic acid and potassium. If you eat them after an iron-rich meal, their vitamin C will help boost iron absorption too.
Pick the healthiest sources. Fish, eggs, cheese and meat are good, but limit yourself to just two portions a day. Red meat is rich in iron, but is not the only source. Look out for alternatives such as spinach.
A simple way to stock up on carbohydrates, it is also a good source of iron, calcium, B vitamins and some is now also fortified with folic acid.
Contains plenty of calcium, magnesium (essential for bone development) and folic acid. Steam rather than boil to help preserve the nutrients.
Well-cooked, of course, to provide iron, protein and vitamin B12, which is essential for the healthy growth of cells in your body.
Another good vegetable source of protein that is also rich in calcium, magnesium, zinc and folic acid. Houmous (made from chickpeas) and breadsticks make a tasty snack.
OILS AND FATS
Some are great sources of essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-06, vital for cell function, brain and eye development.
An instant source of both omega-3 and omega-06 fatty acids, as well as magnesium, vitamins A, B, D, E and K, calcium, iron, potassium and zinc.
Another source of omega-3 fatty acids, but also rich in selenium, an antioxidant mineral that protects against cancer. Don’t eat more than three portions a week though, as tuna contains some mercury which may harm your baby’s nervous system.
CABBAGE OR SPRING GREENS
Both offer a great supply of folic acid (one portion provides 25% of your daily requirement), plus iron, potassium and vitamins C, E and A. Lightly steam to keep the goodness in.
Aim to drink eight glasses of water a day. This will keep you hydrated, maintain energy levels and help prevent constipation and cystitis.
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