What Does Eating For Two Really Mean?
Many things may race around a woman’s head when she finds out she is pregnant, all of a sudden she is faced with a responsibility to take care of herself in order to nurture a growing baby and at times that can feel overwhelming. Morning sickness, caffeine withdrawal symptoms and flying hormones do not help either and there is lots of advice about how you should immediately change your diet.
But, what does eating for two really mean?
Unfortunately, it does not mean a free ticket to eat double and many people are surprised to hear that they only need an extra 200kcals and that is only in the last trimester. If the human body is so amazing that it can create a six-month pregnancy on the same calories as before then what does want us to provide?
In the first trimester a woman’s diet will depend on how she is feeling. Morning sickness can make the thought of food unappealing or a lack of food may cause the sickness to worsen so it depends very much on the individual. A good recommendation for this stage and other trimesters is to balance blood sugar as much as possible. This would help avoid unnecessary highs and lows of blood sugar and subsequent hormones that play a role in balancing things out, allowing the pregnancy hormones to continue getting ready for the baby festival. Avoiding high carbohydrate, sugary snacks or white rice/pasta is a good start. These can play havoc with blood sugar and are not likely to contain many nutrients. Long gaps between eating are not a good idea either; blood sugar drops very low and stress hormones carry you to the next meal but then make it more difficult to find that balance again.
What eating for two can really means is having lots of nutritious and nourishing food. Each day, include good quality protein, lots of colourful vegetables and whole grains. This is a time to thrive and pregnancy is a very motivating time to make positive changes.
Protein is made of amino acids that are used as the building blocks of the human body and good sources such as quality meat, fish, eggs, dairy and some plant sources are essential for hormones. Whole grains such as brown rice or wholewheat can contain around 70% more nutrients than the white counterparts and they include lots of B vitamins for energy. Healthy fats also play important roles as these are used to create a nervous system and cell structure, these can be found in flaxseeds, hemp oil, oily fish and some dark green leafy vegetables. Prebiotic foods are also very beneficial for mother and baby, these and the topic of bacteria in the gut deserve its own special articles so do look out for the future editions of the newsletter.
Oily fish contains lots of omega 3 oils but due to the poor state of the oceans some fish may also contain toxins. Quality supplements are a good way to maintain healthy fats such as DHA as the oils have gone through rigorous testing to remove any possible toxins. For baby these fats are most beneficial in the last trimester and during breastfeeding but for the mother they may be helpful throughout the entire pregnancy as they help balance hormones and stress. Avoid cod liver oil and speak to a trained nutritional therapist if looking at the different types of supplements.
The most important part is for you to enjoy the pregnancy. Real life sometimes presents itself as treats so as long as you are eating a balance diet and taking any recommended vitamin supplements the occasional slip up on Death by Chocolate cake or Easter buns is no problem, enjoy them.
Be kind to yourself, have fun, eat well and feel wonderful.
This article was written as part of the Holistic Centre spring newsletter ‘Pregnancy and Childbirth’. Continue reading: