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I promised to eat better!

 

I know that I have to eat a more healthy and varied diet during my pregnancy. I therefore promised myself not to be too complacent about nutrition. When it comes to proteins, vitamins, minerals, etc. what are essential nutrients and which food contain them? If I could at least know the basic rules for balanced nutrition.

Monday, November 6th, 2017

You are pregnant and have to eat for two. But this does not mean that you should be eating twice as much! To meet your new needs and those of your baby, opt for a high-quality, balanced diet.

I have the right balance!

It is important to eat a balanced diet:

1. It will provide you with the amount of energy, i.e. the calories, you need to allow your body to function. Weight gain during pregnancy is normal. An appropriate weight gain will allow you to sustain a pregnancy and birth without complications. This is merely an indication. In fact, each pregnancy is unique! To give you an idea: if you are an adult woman of average weight and average activity levels, you can assume a daily energy increase of about 340 calories per day  during the  2nd trimester and 450 calories per day  during the 3rd trimester. Don't panic - we will explain how to get there and still enjoy yourself!

2. Provide your body with the elements you need and those needed for your baby to grow: proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, fibre and water.

3. Find a good balance between proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Your daily energy intake should be divided in the following way:

  • Your protein needs will be covered by having one or two portions of meat, fish or eggs per day, three to four dairy products and one portion of starch, vegetables and cereals at one of the two main meals.
  • Carbohydrates, especially starch, fruit and vegetables (5 portions per day), limiting sugary foods. Start at breakfast, by having a glass of fruit juice with cereals or slices of bread. Don't forget to eat bread with your salad or your plate of meat and vegetables at lunch. A small cereal bar as a snack will do you good and, to finish, why not have a plate of pasta and vegetables for dinner…
  • Fats, with vegetable fats such as linseed oil, olive oil or sunflower seed oil being preferable for cooking and seasoning your meals, but butter and cream being equally delicious. Reserve the butter for your morning bread or add small quantities to pasta or rice.

 

If you have an alternative diet (vegetarian, vegan, no dairy products, etc...), don't hesitate to inform your doctor about this. Where necessary, he may prescribe food supplements to avoid any deficiencies. You can also discuss the matter with a dietician.

I'm keeping up the rhythm!

To reach your goals, having three meals a day is essential: never skip a meal, especially not breakfast. This first meal of the day is particularly important to avoid mid-morning cravings. It could be made up as follows:

  • 1 dairy product for calcium and protein
  • 1 portion of cereal for fibre and carbohydrates
  • 1 piece of fruit for vitamins and fibre
  • 1 beverage for hydration.

 

For example: 1 cup of milk with whole-grain cereal and some dried fruit + 1 large glass of freshly pressed orange juice + 1 cup of coffee or tea or, if you like bread: 1 cup of tea, 1 natural yoghurt with 1 sliced kiwi and 2 slides of lightly buttered whole-grain bread.

Allow yourself one or two snacks, during the morning and/or afternoon. Make sure that you balance it well! Limit yourself on sugary foods; rather opt for cereals, fruit and protein. For example: 1 white cheese + 1 cereal bar + 1 apple or, if you like it more "savoury" 1 slice of whole-grain bread with 1 small piece of cheese + a few strawberries.

I am adapting to my new needs

During pregnancy, your needs for certain nutrients will increase.

  • Folic acid is important for the development of the baby's nervous system, particularly at the start of the pregnancy. It is found mainly in leafy green vegetables, legumes, egg-yolk,  but also in citrus fruit. A supplement will generally be prescribed to women who want to have a baby.
  • Iron is the main constituent of haemoglobin, bringing oxygen to the cells. Your requirements will increase from 16 mg/day before the pregnancy to 30-60 mg/day during your pregnancy.  It is mainly found in red meat.
  • Zinc found in eggs, seafood, red meat, dried beans and lentils, will help build your baby’s  immune system
  • DHA is an omega 3 fatty acid important for your baby’s brain and eye development. It is found in egg yolks and fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines.

 

I retain the nutrients better

Vitamins and minerals are very fragile. Storage, preparation and cooking ... it is important to adopt good habits for each of these stages.

  • Buy fruit and vegetables as fresh as possible, as their vitamin and mineral content will drop after harvesting.
  • Protect them against air and light or store them at the bottom of your refrigerator. It is best to eat them as soon as possible.
  • Wash your fruit and vegetables well before eating them, but don't let them soak, as the vitamins will leach out into the water.
  • Opt for gentle, rapid cooking methods: steaming, braising, wrapped in tin foil, pressure cooker…

Finally, don't forget that by eating a varied diet, you will also allow your baby to discover a range of tastes! This is a good way of communicating with it before birth…

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