We asked Laura from the Pregnancy Food Company to give us her tips and suggestions about healthy pregnancy nutrition to get you back on track after Christmas. She says….
Despite all the best intentions for your healthy pregnancy diet, Christmas is (should be!) a time for indulgence. But now it’s time to get your health on track for the year and feel fantastic! We’re all about making bitesize changes throughout January rather than going cold turkey (although, cold turkey is of course a fantastic source of lean protein!!!).
Check out a few small changes you can make to your diet in order to make a big difference to your pregnancy (or postnatal) health for the year – the idea is that by February you’ll be eating as well as you can and will carry it on for the 2019! Implement one of the changes every few days, until you are following them all.
- I love a good coffee and it’s the one thing I refuse to cut out of my diet completely! However, it’s sensible to reduce this to just one fairly weak coffee per day. At the same time add a nice big glass of filtered water to your daily intake.
- Do not fall into the trap of ‘low fat’. Fat is your friend – especially if you are female and wanting to become pregnant, are already pregnant or breastfeeding. Basically you just need to choose the correct friend – healthy fats are essential. Think avocado, nuts, seeds, wild salmon, and cold olive oil. Reduce or cut out completely any trans fats (cookies/cakes/fried foods). I personally cook with butter as it’s saturated and can tolerate high temperatures well, or substitute coconut oil if you prefer.
- Remember protein should be present at every meal. This doesn’t have to be animal protein, many good sources come from pulses, beans, nuts and so on. If you are including meats try to limit red meat to twice per week. Eggs are a superfood for pregnancy so bring these into your breakfast a few times a week if you can. If you enjoy soy foods try to make sure they are fermented – tempeh, natto or miso for example.
- Find a healthy snack you love and run with it. Too often we make things really complicated. I just have a couple of snacks that I like and I’ll stick with for a month or so. At the moment I always have a bag of cashews in my backpack, and my go to snack is an apple with peanut butter.
- Yes, carbohydrates are an essential element of your pregnancy or breastfeeding diet. No they do not have to come from bread, pasta, rice and potatoes! Colourful vegetables contain all the carbohydrates we require – so when you are planning your meals around fat, protein and carbs, consider giving your old friend the vegetable a little more love. You’ll be getting the added bonus of lots of extra nutrients too.
- If you’re pregnant there is no safe limit of alcohol intake. Postnatally you’ll benefit by cutting out alcohol or limiting it a small amount one evening a week. Not only is it packed with calories but it’s also an ‘anti nutrient’ – meaning it takes a lot of essential nutrients from our bodies to get rid of it from our system.
- Refined sugar has got to go! Of course, enjoy the occasional treat, but on a day to day basis we should not be adding sugar to our hot drinks, having fizzy drinks, eating sweets or having lots of sugary condiments.
- Swap fast food or processed food for the real thing. The occasional indulgence is fine (we all need a break from cooking from time to time) but aim to cook from scratch with real ingredients.
- On the topic of cooking from scratch, make it simple! No need for fancy recipes that take hours of prep. Choose a protein, fat and carb that you like, jazz up with some seasoning (I use chilli flakes, pepper and herbs) and voila! One of my favourite meals is salmon, broccoli and lentils with lemon and chilli.
- Prepare your brekkie the night before – overnight oats are really a great way to start the day.
- Add a glass of warm water and a squeeze of lemon juice to your morning routine to wake up your organs!
- Add a handful of berries to your day. We love blueberries as they are not too sugary, taste delish and have lots of health benefits.
- Unless it’s a whole food, read the label on anything you buy. Don’t be fooled by a healthy looking snack bar in pretty packaging. Sugar comes in many forms and big companies are expert at hiding it from you. Always look for the traffic light to be green for sugars on the packaging.
- Eat when you’re hungry. Don’t wait for the ‘right time’, if you are hungry – dig in! As long as what you are eating is healthy you should be listening to what your body is telling you, especially when you’re pregnant or breast-feeding.
Finally, your pregnancy and postnatal health is a wholesome adventure. We need to make sure we are receiving adequate sleep (doesn’t always have to be at night time!) and we are exercising in some capacity – I workout from home when I have a spare 10 minutes in the day and enjoy a good walk. Find at least one exercise you love and enjoy it doing it as often as possible.
For more information and a comprehensive guide on pregnancy nutrition please go to www.thepregnancyfoodcompany.co.uk.