Pregnant? Not sure which foods you should be eating? HFG dietitian Zoe Wilson shows one reader how to choose wisely during this time, and you can follow her advice, too.
HFG reader Kerry (30) is excitedly expecting her first child. She is very keen to know if her current food choices are giving her baby the best start possible.
Working full-time, Kerry is trying to eat well, but struggles with a lack of time to prepare meals. She tends to choose quick and easy options like ready-made pasta, a can of soup or baked beans on toast.
However, she does balance out these meals by adding salad and vegies where she can.
Kerry is eating more protein, too, like mince and salmon fillets for dinner, helping her meet her increased needs.
Kerry’s between-meal snacks tend to be packaged foods, like muesli bars, as well as nuts, fruit and reduced-fat yoghurt.
To reduce the risk of food poisoning, Kerry has eliminated soft cheeses, uncooked egg and ready-made salads. She also takes a pregnancy supplement that contains folate and iodine – both of which are important for the baby’s development.
“When you’re pregnant, it’s all about quality, not quantity, to meet the increased requirements for nutrients like calcium, iron, folate, iodine, zinc and protein – without adding too many extra kilojoules. I’m impressed by the amount of healthy food Kerry’s eating, such as fresh fruit and vegies, reduced-fat dairy and quality protein like lean red meat, chicken and salmon.
I’m also pleased she’s taking a supplement, to ensure she’s getting enough folate and iodine for a healthy baby.
One area that Kerry can change for the better is the amount of processed foods in her diet. She should try to eliminate those that are high in salt such as pasta sauces, packaged soups and certain muesli bars, which are also heavy on the kilojoules and saturated fat."
Top food tips
Choose a variety of foods to get a range of nutrients. Include lots of fruit, green leafy vegies, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean protein like meat, chicken, low-mercury fish, beans and seeds. Avoid processed foods that are high in sat fat and salt such as fast food.
Eat for one – not for two! Kilojoule needs increase only slightly (about 600kJ per day in your second and third trimesters). Focus on quality over quantity to get enough calcium, iron, folate, iodine, zinc and protein which your body needs more of during pregnancy.
Limit snacks that are high in sat fat and salt. Fruit, low-fat yoghurt, nuts and seeds are better, nutrient-packed choices.
Be food-safe. Avoid soft cheeses, unpasteurised foods, cold, ready-made foods like salads, deli meat and raw or smoked seafood.
Take a supplement that’s designed for pregnancy.
Drink plenty of water. Avoid juices, soft drinks and cordials as these add kilojoules without many nutrients. Avoid alcohol and limit caffeine.