Nourishing nutrition in pregnancy

Strike a balance between healthy weight gain and nutritional intake. Try to keep in mind that you are not eating for two, you are eating carefully for one."—Catherine Jones and Rose Hudson, authors of Eating for Pregnancy: The Essential Nutrition Guide and Cookbook for Today's Mothers-To-Be.


Six tips for nourishing nutrition:

  1. Eat colourful meals: As well as knowing the vegetables and legumes group is the main food groups on which to base each meal, we now know that you need to keep your meals colourful! Include your “greens” (brassica/cruciferous veggies), orange, raw leafy, starchy vegetables and others, such as red and yellow veggies each day.
  2. Eat less processed foods: We need to recognise that there’s processing (making pasta, fermenting yoghurt, snap-freezing vegetables) and 'ultra-processing'. What we really want to avoid are ultra-processed foods—these generally contain multiple ingredients to enhance flavour, texture and stability. In the end, these foods resumble nothing like anything  naturally grown. A good rule of thumb is to choose foods from around the outside of the supermarket aisles or only choose to eat what your grandmother would recognise.
  3. Eat across all food groups: It’s one of the dietary guidelines for a reason—it’s important to eat a wide variety of foods every day. This gives you the benefit from all nutrients each group has to offer. Need a reminder of the groups? They are: vegetables, fruit, grain foods (preferably wholegrain), protein foods (e.g. meat, fish, eggs, nuts, legumes), and dairy (mostly reduced fat). Need more information about serve sizes and amounts from each food group? Click here.
  4. Eat for your pregnancy stage: you are not eating for two, but need to eat twice as well! In the first trimester your energy (kilojoule) needs are about the same as when you weren’t pregnant. It’s only when you get into your second and third trimesters that you need more protein and energy—an extra 1400kJ (second trimester) and 1900kJ (third trimester) is all you need. Your protein needs are only 60grams per day. What is this in ‘real food’? An extra serve from the meat and alternatives group and two to three serves from the breads/cereals/grains group. 
  5. Eat safe: Due to immune system changes in pregnancy, women are more susceptible to food poisoning. But by avoiding all foods that carry a risk for harbouring listeria, women are consuming fewer nutrients. You don’t have to go without. For every item on the “no” list, there are a number of alternatives.
  6. Stick with the evidence for multivitamins: Only folic acid and iodine have been shown to be essential to supplement in pregnancy. While it may seem like “more is better” with supplements, this is not necessarily correct in many cases. Most of the vitamins and minerals in a pregnancy multivitamin supplement are water soluble and end up in your urine if you don’t need them. For some women, a blood test may indicate that a separate supplement containing iron or Vitamin D may be required. It is also important to aim for the right amounts of fruit, vegetables and foods from the other food groups to ensure you provide your body with the best balance of nutrients for pregnancy. 


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For urgent assessment at any stage of your pregnancy, please present to your nearest emergency centre or Mater Mothers’ 24/7 Pregnancy Assessment Centre in South Brisbane.

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