The combination of this sluggishness and low energy along with hormonal changes from pregnancy, make it very easy to go down the slippery slope of poor nutrition, writes Suzanne Leyden, Nutrition, Health and Wellness Coach at The WellNow Co.
Pregnancy is sometimes the first time that we consider exactly what food we consume because no longer is it ‘just me’ that we’re impacting but we have become responsible for someone else and their health by default. I developed a very close relationship with Dr Google during my first two pregnancies. Dangerous as this approach is, I was lucky that my pregnancies were pretty straight forward. I just needed an answer for this niggle, and to check the other niggle ahead of my next doctor’s appointment. It was never a panic, more a reassurance that all was heading in the right direction.
While pregnant with my third baby, I qualified as a nutrition, health and wellness coach. My understanding of healthy eating and lifestyle choices made me informed now to question some of the info Dr. Google was spewing at me. And I was beginning to get enraged by the misinformation and contradictions that previously would have washed over me a little. It’s what spurred me on to create a pregnancy wellness programme. A place to go for no-nonsense advice on what to eat, and how to approach lifestyle choices in a practical, simple and compassionate way. This is always done in conjunction with your health care provider, either your obstetrician, GP or midwife.
We really don’t require much additional food while pregnant. In fact we only need about 350-450 calories per day more than usual. Instead of focusing primarily on weight we can choose to focus on what we eat. The types of food we eat can impact how we feel, either giving us more energy or making us feel sluggish. The combination of this sluggishness and low energy along with hormonal changes from pregnancy, make it very easy to go down the slippery slope of poor nutrition. I should add that different women grow at different rates and shapes while pregnant, and we shouldn’t berate ourselves for adding a few pounds. You will shed them. It’s more about what we consume to gain weight that we should consider.
The very best approach to maintaining good health is eating a balanced diet. Make sure you are getting the right amounts of each of the macronutrients; carbohydrates, protein and fat. Ideally you will have a combination of each of the macros in each of your meals and also your snacks. This will make you feel full for longer. With this approach you will feel satisfied and not have the tendency to grab for ‘just one more biscuit’.
A whole foods approach to eating is a way of maximizing nutrient intake. It simply means eating foods with the least amount of processing, so a wide variety of fresh fruit and veg, beans, legumes, lentils are considered whole foods. By eating this way we incorporate plenty of fibre, which any pregnant woman will be grateful for, and reduces in the intake of unnecessary additives such as sugar, salt and any chemical preservatives into your body. With any animal source of protein make sure it’s lean and ideally organic; chicken, fish, eggs, red meat. These are nutrient rich foods that will keep you and your growing baby healthy.
BLOOD SUGAR BALANCE
Another advantage to eating a balanced diet is that it helps to balance your blood sugar. If you eat highly processed, sugary foods you get a spike in your blood sugar. And we know that what goes up, must come down. When we get this energy crash we seek out food that will pick us up again and this tends to be highly processed carbohydrates – think biscuits, sweets or even bagel, after bagel or massive bowl of pasta. This becomes a rhythm our body insists on until we break it by reducing the spikes. While this can be done by watching the types of food we eat we can also look at what time we eat. Avoid skipping meals or eating breakfast or dinner too late if you are trying to balance your blood sugar. By doing this, sleep can also be improved, and what pregnant woman doesn’t want good sleep?
Ordinarily adults need about 1.5 – 2 litres of water per day and it can be quite individual, like so many things. When we are pregnant hydration requirements increase. Try to stay ahead of the game by preventing dehydration which we know causes tiredness and brain fog and can help avoid common pregnancy ailments like constipation and piles. Water is the best drink, but any non-alcoholic drink will contribute to staying hydrated. Be mindful of the sugar content of what you drink. In terms of caffeine, ideally limit intake to 200mg per day. One cup of filter coffee is about 140mg.
If you are pregnant and you even consider these three relatively simple points during your pregnancy, they will stand to you very well. Of course there are multiple other complex things to consider for every unique pregnancy and pregnant woman. But nutrition and lifestyle choices can be made simple and can help improve some avoidable health outcomes. As with everything, balance is key. Applying the 80:20 rule is a nice way to stay on track. Use the healthy tips and approach for 80% of the time and don’t be restricted by them 20% of the time.
Suzanne Leyden is a Nutrition, Health and Wellness Coach at The WellNow Co. offering online wellness programmes, 1:1 coaching and workplace wellness solutions.