This month we bring you a guest blog, by Charlotte Debeugny, bilingual registered nutritionist who is passionate about promoting the importance of diet in supporting health and wellbeing.
Eating well during your pregnancy will help to your baby to develop and grow and keep you glowing with health. The good news, is that it does not have to be complicated! if your diet is already relatively balanced (ie sufficient, varied, colourful and delicious!), the only minor changes will be certain food and hygiene measures. If you are conscious that your current diet is not as balanced as it should be, then it’s a perfect opportunity to make a few tweaks to get it back on track.
The quality of your diet should be for two, but not the quantity!
You need to eat for 2 in terms of nutrients, but not in terms of quantity! Additional energy is only really required in the last trimester (roughly 500 additional calories a day which is equivalent to a sandwich with some fruit!). What does this mean in practical terms? Moderating your intake of energy rich but nutrient poor foods such as added sugar (sweets, cakes and biscuits) and junk food and aiming to eat nutrient dense foods such as fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, lean protein, whole grains most the time.
The key word is moderation – eating less healthy foods a couple of times is completely acceptable in the context of a balanced diet during pregnancy!
How much weight should I gain?
As a general guideline, between 10-15 kg. This will depend on your initial weight. If you are under or overweight at the start of your pregnancy, you might gain more or less than this. As a strapping ‘femme viking’ with a family history of babies born weighing 4 kg, I tended to gain around 16-18 kg during each pregnancy. And, I had to smile when I was lectured on nutrition by my doctor! So, please do not worry excessively about weight gain, focus on eating well and looking after yourself.
What is a balanced diet during pregnancy?
In a nutshell varied! A Mediterranean style diet ticks all the boxes: whole grains, olive oil, nuts and seeds, fish and lean meat, fruits and vegetables…..
A typical day’s menu might look like this:
- Muesli with yoghurt or milk and fresh fruit
- Roasted vegetable salad with chickpeas, fruit or yogurt
- Wholegrain crackers with pasturised cheese
- Grilled salmon with brown rice and mixed vegetables
- Handful of nuts and dried fruit
Other top tips? Your diet does not need to be perfect, so give yourself a break if you do not feel like cooking! Frozen vegetables, premade soups, good quality ready made meals, these are all fine too on the days where it is harder for you to cook. It’s much better for you to feel relaxed and rested rather than worrying about cooking from scratch!
Try eating little and often during the day, snacking on oatcakes and dry biscuits. Ensure you keep yourself hydrated by sipping fluids throughout the day. Bland and non-greasy foods might be easier to digest. Ginger-rich foods or drinks might also be helpful. The nausea usually approves during the second trimester!
Which foods should be avoided?
Certain foods should be avoided during pregnancy either because of what they might contain, or how they might have been prepared. Raw foods have a higher risk than cooked foods, because the cooking process is often sufficient to destroy the ‘pathogen’. Observing good hygiene practices in the home – such as hand washing, wiping kitchen surfaces, using different chopping boards for raw and cooked foods, etc etc, is important and there are a few additional measures to be aware of:
- There is a risk of contamination from bacteria from raw fish, raw meat, raw eggs and unpasteurised dairy products. So, make sure these foods are thoroughly cooked and choose pasteurised cheeses.
- Fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly washed before consumption. If in doubt, avoid raw fruits and vegetables – this means you may prefer to avoid salads when you are eating away from home.
- Foods high in Vitamin A, such as liver products should also be avoided as vitamin A, in excessive quantities can harm your baby.
- You should also avoid certain of the larger oily fish, which are known to contain higher levels of mercury and dioxins such as shark, marlin and swordfish. Limit tuna to no more than 1-2 servings a week. Your best sources of oily fish are sardines and mackerel.
Which drinks should be avoided?
Updated UK and French guidelines recommend that alcohol should be ideally avoided throughout pregnancy. Caffeine should be moderated to no more than 2-3 cups a day.
The good news is that post pregnancy, there are no foods you need to avoid!
Akapip Roasted Vegetable Salad
Delicious and colourful, just like the clothes!
- 1 red onion
- 1 red pepper
- 1 courgette
- 1 small aubergine
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tin chickpeas @ 400g
- Juice and zest of ½ lemon (thoroughly washed)
- Handful of baby spinach leaves, thoroughly washed
- Optional: black olives, toasted pinenuts, chopped fresh basil (thoroughly washed 😊)
- Pre-heat oven to 215 degrees and have a baking sheet and chopping board ready
- Remove the skin and root from the onion. Thoroughly wash the onion and the other vegetables.
- Slice the onion, chop the red pepper, courgette and aubergine into 2 cm cubes. Place on the baking sheet and drizzle over the olive oil, paprika and salt. Roast for 40 minutes.
- Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Remove the vegetables from the oven, add the chickpeas and return to the oven for a further 5-10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and place in a serving bowl. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice and mix gently together. Scatter over the baby spinach and any of the optional ingredients of your choice.
- Serve with a smile!