Sticking to a healthy diet during pregnancy is not just about ensuring your baby develops well inside the womb; your food choices can impact the health and eating habits of your child way beyond postpartum. In fact, the first 1, 000 days of life – from conception until two years of age – is prime time for laying the foundations of positive attitudes towards that which nourishes.
Dr Rana Conway (Dr Conway does not endorse Infacol or any other medicines), registered nutritionist, pregnancy nutrition expert and co-author of the Organix Little Book of Good Food – Bump to Baby, gives advice for keeping meals and snacks balanced and beneficial for both mum-to-be and baby.
Dr Rana Conway says: “Everyone seems to have a different view of food during pregnancy. The advice and information is constantly being updated, so it can be a worry wondering if you’re doing what’s right. And, while it’s important to eat a varied, healthy diet, it’s not always easy to do so.”
Even if morning sickness has you swearing off everything edible, try eating at least a small breakfast. This can help relieve the nausea by keeping your blood glucose levels on an even keel – plus, it provides you with energy during a time when you might feel especially drained. Also, if you skip breakfast, you’re more likely to reach for the unhealthy stuff when you’re starving and in need of a calorie fix.
If morning sickness has started to ease off, you might be tempted to over-indulge. But remember that what you eat for the next six months will influence your child’s future health. Meal plans don’t have to be boring, though; go for variety – a rainbow of fruit and veg, protein-rich foods, dairy foods and whole grains.
You’re on the home stretch, so don’t abandon your good eating plan just yet; instead, increase your intake of wholesome foods by around 200kcal a day as your baby’s weight increases rapidly in preparation for birth. Choose low GI snacks to keep you feeling fuller for longer; Dr Conway suggests a slice of granary toast with mashed avocado, black pepper and lemon juice, or a handful of nuts.
And as for all those weird and OTT cravings, there is no evidence your body needs what you crave. Dr Rana says, “The problem with eating 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 are exposed to slightly higher levels of glucose.”