Women

What to Eat When You're Pregnant : Healthy Eating for Two (part 3) -Ten ways to boost your fruit and vegetable intake, Ten healthy snacks

- 7 Kinds Of Fruit That Pregnant Women Shouldn’t Eat
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- Foods That Cause Miscarriage
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Brain food

Eating fish during pregnancy could help your baby reach his or her developmental milestones, according to researchers from the Danish National Birth Cohort study. Over 25,000 women in Denmark were asked about their fish intake during pregnancy and their babies’ development at 6 and 18 months of age. Developmental scores for the babies of fish eaters were then compared with those of babies whose mothers ate little or no fish (less than one portion per week). Babies whose mothers ate about one and a half portions of fish each week were found to have 10% higher developmental scores. What’s more, babies whose mothers ate about three and a half portions of fish a week scored 30% higher. Studies in the past have highlighted the benefits of fish, but these results really add to the evidence showing early nutrition may affect later brain development.

During pregnancy, it’s easy to focus on what you shouldn’t eat, but this shows there’s something positive you can do and something you can eat to really benefit your baby.

Ten ways to boost your fruit and vegetable intake
  1. Mix some chopped fruit, such as banana or strawberries, with your breakfast cereal.
  2. Have a piece of fruit ready for a mid-morning snack.
  3. Keep some raisins, dried apricots, figs or prunes in your desk drawer or handbag ready for when hunger strikes.
  4. Add plenty of salad (washed well) to sandwiches.
  5. Buy some frozen vegetables. Then, even if you’re too tired for peeling and chopping, you can microwave them to go with your evening meal.
  6. Make a fruit pudding such as fruit salad, apple crumble or raspberry fool.
  7. Mix up a fruit smoothie with bananas, strawberries, blueberries or mangoes.
  8. Have some vegetable soup for lunch or make a really chunky soup for supper.
  9. Have a glass of pure fruit juice with your evening meal (if you choose a high vitamin-C juice, it’ll help iron absorption too).
  10. Add extra vegetables when cooking dishes such as shepherd’s pie, pasta, fish pie and pizza.

Time for a little something

During pregnancy you are more likely than usual to be rubbing your tummy and looking for a little snack. It may be that you are suffering from morning sickness and can’t face proper meals, and so you are trying to eat small amounts rather than nothing. Or perhaps snacking seems the only way to keep nausea at bay. Eating little and often can also be helpful towards the end of pregnancy if you are suffering from heartburn or if large meals just leave you feeling uncomfortable.

When you eat snacks, try to make them as healthy as possible. Avoid always choosing chocolate, biscuits and crisps, as these contain ‘empty calories’. This means that they provide energy (calories) but not the essential nutrients, particularly the vitamins and minerals, that you need. Also, research suggests that if you eat a lot of junk food during pregnancy, your baby is likely to turn into a lover of unhealthy food too. So, instead of picking up a fatty or sugary snack, go for something that will provide you with a slower release of energy and plenty of vitamins and minerals.

Ten healthy snacks
  1. A low-fat yogurt.
  2. A piece of fresh fruit or a handful of dried fruit with nuts and seeds.
  3. A bowl of breakfast cereal, preferably a high-fibre one with added vitamins and iron.
  4. Oatcakes with some low-fat cheese.
  5. Lentil and vegetable soup.
  6. Wholemeal toast with yeast extract, low-fat cream cheese or mashed banana.
  7. Houmous with vegetable sticks.
  8. Wholemeal pitta bread filled with ham or chicken and salad.
  9. A milkshake made by blending milk with a banana, strawberries, mango or peach.
  10. A bowl of muesli with fruit and yogurt.

Ice cream with gherkins and other taste changes

Cravings are quite common in pregnancy, especially during the early stages. They are usually seen as quite a fun part of being pregnant. When you eat whatever it is you have been longing for, you might be surprised at just how delicious it tastes – whether it’s ice cream with gherkins or something more ordinary. You might find that nothing hits the spot quite like the cream crackers you’ve been dreaming of all day.

The most common cravings are for fruit, sweet or salty foods, and foods with a strong flavour, such as pickles. Nobody can explain exactly why cravings occur, but it is thought that changes in hormone levels, particularly oestrogen, are partly responsible. Psychological factors also play a role. In some cultures, pregnant women do not experience cravings. Women sometimes admit that ‘cravings’ are a good excuse for eating things they always fancy. It’s usually fine to eat the foods you crave, unless they are on the ‘avoid list’ or are likely to result in you gaining lots of weight.

If you have a craving for something that wouldn’t usually be considered a food or drink, it is called ‘pica’. Studies of pica during pregnancy have found women craving (and consuming) items such as chalk, ice, raw potato, mud, clay, coal, baby powder and laundry starch. Although most of us have heard of pregnant women eating things like this, pica appears to be more of a myth than a reality in well-fed populations – one Danish study found the incidence to be just 0.02%. However, pica appears to be more common among certain ethnic groups, including African Americans and less affluent populations around the world. Several studies have found that pica among pregnant women is associated with lower iron levels. So, if you do find yourself craving something unusual, talk to your midwife or doctor. If your iron levels haven’t been tested yet, it may be a good idea to have blood tests done as soon as possible. Also, your doctor or midwife should be able to advise you about the safety or otherwise of eating particular substances.

As well as experiencing cravings, many women find they develop an aversion to particular foods or drinks during pregnancy. Even the smell of something such as wine that they enjoyed previously might make them feel nauseous. Again, hormonal changes that affect the sense of taste and smell are probably to blame. Aversions to tea, coffee, alcohol, fried or spicy food, and strong flavours and odours are all quite normal. For some women, these are the first signs of pregnancy. Aversions to certain items such as alcohol have an obvious role in protecting your baby from exposure to potentially harmful substances. However, it’s not uncommon for women to develop an aversion to more healthy foods, such as meat, fish, eggs or vegetables. This sometimes happens during periods of morning sickness. You are likely to feel more normal when the sickness subsides. If you go off foods that you feel you should be eating, then it may help if someone else does the cooking or if you eat those foods cold. Then the smell isn’t as strong, which can be part of the problem.

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