I want to start off by discussing the phrase eating for two
What does eating for two mean?
There are plenty of apps and website out there that go through stage by stage the size of an unborn baby. I will use food as a comparison to the explain the size of the baby during the three trimesters.
During the first few weeks the baby will be a size of a seed, by week 12, the baby is a size of a lime, week 20 the baby is the size of a small banana, week 27 a size of a cauliflower, week 33 a pineapple and by the end of 40 weeks, it’s a size of a giant watermelon.
From this, it shows that you’re actually fueling a very small person.
This leads me onto discussing the misconception of fueling for two. Often, people feel that they need to eat for two as they’re feeding themselves and their unborn baby, however, excessive calorie consumption isn’t necessary, and it will only lead to extra weight gain.
Calorie consumption should be increased especially during trimester 2 and 3 for the positive growth and development of the baby, but the recommended amount is quite low only 150-300 calories a day. This could be two slices of toast with a 2 spoonful’s of peanut butter or a large banana, an apple and an orange.
These extra calories shouldn’t be wasted calories; you should use this opportunity to feed your body with calories that will provide yourself and the baby with great nutrients.
If you’re exercising during pregnancy this needs to be taken into account, you will need to exceed the recommended amount as the RDA is based on a sedentary pregnant woman.
Weight gain is a normal process that occurs through pregnancy, healthy eating should be continued and encouraged, however, dieting shouldn’t be on your radar during the three trimesters. Mum’s who restrict their calories will be putting their baby at risk of developmental and health problems.
My point here is that you need to find a healthy balance fueling your body with vitamins and minerals, which provide benefits to yourself and the baby.
During pregnancy, there is a change in the metabolic and hormonal system. The hormone insulin can sometimes cause some problems for new mums to be. 1 in 300 pregnant women will become insulin resistance during pregnancy; this can be described as very similar to a mild diabetic. The condition for this is known as gestational diabetes mellitus. There is a lot of research that suggests women who exercise pre-pregnancy are at a lower risk of developing this condition. Dietary changes should be included if you develop this condition.
So what should be included in your diet when you’re pregnant?
Firstly, due to all the physiological changes your body will be adapting to pregnancy this means that you will be feeling different, a lot of mums to be will experience feeling energyless and suffering from headaches during the transition between first and second trimester. Keeping hydration levels high is key during pregnancy, water is required for the expansion of blood volume, insufficient levels of hydration can lead to many complications and can leave you feeling fatigued. Even if you’re not feeling thirsty you should always have a water bottle to hands, it’s recommended that 8 to 12 glasses of water should be consumed a day. Be careful of caffeinated drinks as they have the opposite effects of keeping us hydrated.
For the growth and development of the baby keeping up vitamin and mineral stores are very important. Vitamin B12, Vitamin C,D, E, and K play vital roles for this development. Calcium and Iron levels shouldn’t be neglected during this period.
Keeping folic acid levels high is extremely important during conception to the end of the first trimester. Having low levels of folic acid can have serious complications for the unborn baby. If folic acid levels are too low the baby is at risk of developing Spinal Bifida.
All vitamin and mineral levels can be kept topped up with good sources of foods.
Here are a 3 of my top foods that I would advise to include;
Green leafy vegetables– Spinach, Kale etc are packed with nutrients such as folic acid, vitamin c, calcium, and iron.
Quinoa has all 9 amino acids meaning it’s a complete protein, which will bring lots of nutritional benefits to your body. It’s a plant base protein so it has a low-fat content, but it’s a great alternative for a source of protein
Nuts present high levels of vitamin E, which is important for the baby as the baby will have lower Vitamin E and K stores in comparison to mum. Nuts have essential fatty acids that are great for developing the baby and keeping mum healthy.
Avocados are packed with many benefits they have an amazing source of folic acid, they’re packed with antioxidant and they’re a good source of essential fat. They present high levels of calcium and will help increase your levels of vitamin C,E,K,B1, B2 & B6.
Here are meal ideas;
• Porridge with a banana/berries/strawberries-
• Eggs, Spinach on Toast
• Toast with a nut butter and a banana
• Nuts- cashew, brazil, and hazelnut
• Hummus with rice cakes or vegetables- Carrots, Pepper, Cucumber or Celery
• Handful of dried fruit
• Greek yoghurt with fruit and a tablespoon of honey
• Quinoa chicken salad with lots of leafy green vegetables
• Jacket potatoes with beans
• Soups with Sourdough or Rye bread
• Cous Cous, steak, salad
• Smashed avocado on toast with scrambled eggs
• Sweet potatoes with steak and vegetables
• Rice, chicken, and vegetables.
What foods to avoid during pregnancy
There is a lot of research on oily fish consumption during pregnancy. Fish should be included as it has many benefits such as; high levels of omega 3 and essential fatty acids. It’s only recommended that a maximum of 2 portions of oily fish should be consumed in a week. The fish that shouldn’t be eaten during pregnancy is; shark, swordfish, and marlin due to high levels of mercury.
Liver products should be avoided due to the high levels of vitamin A and mould-ripped cheeses, pates, undercooked meats and unpasteurised milk should be avoided because of the potential of bacteria.