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Healthy Eating In Pregnancy

Posted Aug 22 2010 1:37am

Isn’t it funny? In pregnancy, women have cravings for particular types of food and it’s widely accepted that these are driven by nutritional needs relating to the pregnancy. In other words, we accept that our bodies know what we need, and at this one special time, when our systems are under particular stress and demand, we listen to our bodies and to a great extent we pander to the nutritional needs that they flag up. Why is it that we don’t give our bodies such respect all the rest of the time?

Unfortunately, by the time our nutritional needs turn into the strange cravings that many of us experience in pregnancy, we are already so out of balance that those cravings may not always be particularly good for us.  The best way to avoid the more extreme cravings is to ensure that you adopt a really healthy way of eating throughout your pregnancy, including making sure that you’re getting more of those nutrients that are particularly in demand at this time.

So what does healthy eating in pregnancy mean?

Although I normally argue that everyone is individual and that we all have our own specific nutritional needs, there are still broad guidelines that apply to all of us… e.g. that coffee and alcohol aren’t ever really a brilliant idea, much as we might like them to be! And in pregnancy this is also the case. There are certain extra demands on the system that tend to be experienced by all pregnant women, whatever their metabolic type, and specific nutrients need boosting.

So, in pregnancy, continue to eat in whatever way normally leaves you feeling energized and healthy. It may help if you already know your metabolic type and base your diet around it (see the links below for more about metabolic typing). Much in the way of morning sickness and cravings can be forestalled by the right dietary balance. But more importantly, boosting levels of particular vitamins and minerals can significantly impact your baby’s chance of healthy early development.

Most of us are aware of the need for folic acid before and during pregnancy, partly to protect against spinabifida, and generally to ensure healthy development of the brain and nervous system of the baby.  But the essential fatty acids (Omega 3 and 6), vitamin B6, B12, zinc and iron are also needed in greater amounts during pregnancy than normal.

How can I get these healthy nutrients?

You may want to consider good quality supplements, but if you want to get as much of these extra nutrients from your diet as possible, here are some foods to consider:

Folic Acid: sprouts, asparagus, sesame seeds, broccoli, avocados, hazel nuts, cashew nuts

Vitamin B6: watercress, cabbage, peppers, banana, squash, lentils, a variety of seeds and nuts

Vitamin B12: sardines, free range eggs, chicken, cheese, lamb

Zinc: root ginger, lamb, haddock, green peas, almonds, shrimps

Iron: pumpkin seeds, almonds, prunes, cashew nuts, sesame seeds, parsley, molasses

Omega 3: mackerel, salmon, sardines, sunflower seeds

Omega 6: sunflower oil, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, sesame seeds, wheatgerm

Note that frying and any high temperature cooking with these foods will break down and rob the food of its nutrient value – particularly the essential fatty acids. So, for example, rather than using sunflower oil in frying, use it for salads and in cold preparations.

A whole book could easily be written on taking care of yourself and your baby nutritionally throughout pregnancy. This is just a starting point that I hope will encourage you to look into healthy eating during pregnancy in more depth. The main thing is to listen carefully to what your body seems to be telling you. If you get urges or even cravings, try to work out what vitamins or minerals this means your body is lacking, then try to satisfy it through a good, natural, source.

Have a happy, healthy pregnancy!

Take care and stay healthy

Leah Salmon

The Naturally You Coach

After spending years as a nurse and medical secretary, Leah Salmon realised that orthodox medicine didn’t work and became a Naturally You Coach, helping people to use their foods and natural remedies to improve their health, instead of drugs, chemicals and surgeries. Now a published author of 2 books, a speaker, teacher and dedicated homeschooling mother to her 4 children, listen to Leah share the number one secret to great health at http://www.numberonesecrettohealth.com


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