In Other Articles, Pregnancy

pregnant-mom-articleWritten by: Azza Motara (Registered Dietician, and Mom of 2)

As a mother embarks on her gestational journey, many are left pondering if they are making optimum nutritional choices. Choosing wisely makes for both a healthy mom and baby during and after that precious bundle has arrived.

First trimester: There is no need for increased kilojoules during this time. Exhaustion, nausea, food aversions and vomiting during this time make optimum nutrition rather tricky so eating in response to hunger and what a mother is able to tolerate is best. But this need not be a time of only toast and ginger biscuits! Try rice/oat cakes with a little hummus and a dash of lemon juice, fruit juice ice-lollies (watermelon blended with mint and lemon is great), cold crudités, fruit and veggie kebabs or yogurt and smoothies placed in the freezer.

Second and Third Trimester: A mother requires only an additional 1250 daily kilojoules in this time (the equivalent of a smoothie), dispelling the myth that pregnancy is the ideal time for overindulgence. Top tips include:

  • Try 6 small, healthy meals rather than 3 big ones-Spread small meals throughout the day to maintain blood sugar and lessen common complains like heartburn, lethargy and bloating. Add lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, wholegrains, beans, legumes, low-fat dairy, lean meats and good fats (avocado, olives and their oils). Be creative and experiment-this might be a great time to add and get hooked on new healthy flavours!
  • Think Low Glycemic Load (GL) meals-opt for low GL foods for sustained energy, and eat carbohydrates with lean protein as this releases the glucose a lot slower and keeps one fuller for longer e.g. a pear with almonds, brown rice with vegetables and steamed salmon. An ideal dinner plate is one where half the plate holds vegetables and/or salad and the remaining half is shared equally between protein and low GL carbohydrate. A GL food directory may be obtained on the internet or consult with a dietician.
  • Eating for two is a common mistake mothers make. Excessive weight gained during pregnancy is related to an increased risk of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure, which may cause further complications during the birth. Likewise, there are increased reports of celebrity’s binge eating during pregnancy in order to lessen weight gain. Needless to say, this is highly dangerous for both mother and infant and sensible weight loss efforts should be reserved post-partum.
  • An often overlooked issue that may be contributing to craving refined foods is lack of sleep. Research indicates that sleep deprivation increases our need for low-nutrient, sugary foods such as cakes, biscuits and sweets which in turn result in less nutrient-rich foods being consumed. Consider improved techniques to ensure a good night’s rest.
  • Add 25-35g of fibre daily-Constipation and haemorrhoids are common during pregnancy. Together with applicable management, drink 8 glasses of water per day; opt for high fibre wholegrains, beans, seeds and nuts; raw fruit and vegetables (with peel where possible), dried fruit and prune juices. Fibre additives or stool softeners should be discussed with the health care provider if required.
  • Supplements: A health care provider will probably recommend a pregnancy multivitamin, omegas and additional folic acid, calcium and iron. Furthermore, 5 beneficial additions include:

Nutrient Requirement per day Dietary sources



Requirement per day

Dietary sources



Low-fat dairy, dark-green leafy vegetables, fortified juices, canned fish with bones



Dried beans, peas, lentils, spinach, pulses, nuts, avocado, strawberries, orange juice



Liver, beef, seafood, dried beans, wheatgerm, oatmeal, dark-green leafy vegetables



Animal sources: Meat, poultry, seafood, eggs. Vegetable sources: veggie burgers, beans, legumes, soya, nuts and nut butters

Vitamin C


citrus fruit and juices, tomatoes, strawberries, dark-green leafy vegetables



  • Do not eat raw, undercooked or smoked meats and fish, Carpaccio, deli meats, cheeses such as brie and camembert, and dairy products that have not been pasteurized as they may increase the risk of illness from the listeria bacterium
  • The dish on fish: Seafood is beneficial during pregnancy because it is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which are essential for an infant’s brain development. Furthermore, the body does not manufacture adequate amounts of it so dietary sources are essential. Fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish contain high levels of mercury so are considered dangerous, as they may pass through the placenta, resulting in abnormalities in the foetus or young child’s developing nervous system. Instead enjoy lower-mercury cuts such as hake, butterfish, haddock, Atlantic mackerel, salmon, sardines and tinned tuna 2-3 times a week
  • Strong cravings often indicate a deficiency in a particular nutrient. As long as it is not a very unhealthy one, giving in to cravings now and then is okay
  • Try this quick and delicious festive treat which is crammed with healthy ingredients and perfect for anyone!

Healthy Choc Munchies

200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
50g goji berries
125g rough oatcakes
50g pumpkin seeds
50g Brazil nuts (chopped up)
4tsp ground mixed spice
2 tsp ground cinnamon
50g peanut butter
Melt chocolate over double burner. Break oatcakes and crumble. Add berries, nuts, seeds and spices. Stir peanut butter into melted chocolate and mix with rough ingredients. Combine well. Spread mixture onto a baking sheet and refrigerate. Cut into squares.


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