Pregnancy Diet – Fat, Protein and Carbs7 min readReading Time: 5 minutes
When you are pregnant, your body needs extra nutrition, vitamins and minerals. A good rule of thumb when it comes to pregnancy diet is to eat varied and foods with a lot of nutritional value. Foods that contain a lot of nutrition are e.g whole grains, green leafy vegetables, root vegetables, beans, oily fish, eggs, dairy products, fruits, seeds and nuts. On top of this you might need to supplement folic acid and iron.
You don’t have to eat for two
It is easy to believe that you need to eat for two when you are pregnant, but that’s not the truth. How much extra food is needed depends on what you weighed before you became pregnant and what the weight gain during pregnancy looks like. Your midwife or a dietician can advise on how much is right for you. Keep in mind that it is not only energy that you need more of, but above all nutrition.
If you have concerns about your lifestyle or are worried that you are gaining a lot of weight or are not gaining enough, you can talk to your midwife. If you feel very ill and have difficulty eating at the beginning of your pregnancy, you do not have to worry about getting too little nutrition. However, if the trouble persists for an extended period of time, you should consult your midwife.
Guidelines for each trimester
The pregnancy can be divided into three parts, or three trimesters. For each trimester, the need for energy and nutrition increases. Everyone experiences pregnancy in different ways. How you feel may change during pregnancy. Some are hungrier in the beginning, others in the end. Some feel so ill that they can barely eat anything at all, while someone else is craving every little thing for a period of time.
What is described here are guidelines for how much extra your body needs for each trimester during pregnancy:
- In the first trimester, ie during the first 12 weeks, almost nothing is needed at all. One fruit per day covers the increased need.
- The second trimester, between weeks 13 and 27, the increase should be a little higher, such as a fruit, a whole grain sandwich and a glass of milk or unsweetened vitamin-enriched oat or soy drinks extra each day.
- The third and last trimester it’s recommended that to increase your intake with two snacks and one extra fruit each day. A good snack can be a whole grain sandwich and a glass of milk, yogurt or vitamin-enriched oat or soy drinks. It can also be a plate of porridge or muesli with berries or fruits and milk or fortified oat or soy drinks.
Pregnancy Diet – Nutritious food
When you are pregnant, you may be thinking a little extra about what you eat and wonder if the food contains everything the baby needs. Therefore it may be good to know what you need to pay extra attention to.
Energy from protein, fat and carbohydrates
The constituents of the food that provide energy are fat, carbohydrates and protein. All equally important to get in order for the body to feel good.
Fat contains the most energy
It may be good to know that fat provides more than twice as much energy as carbohydrates and protein. For example, what does not look so much on the plate, like sauce, can be very energy-rich. If the body gets too much energy in relation to the need, the weight gain can be too great. To parry this, it may be good to review what you eat. You may need to reduce the portion size or move more. If you gain too little weight or not at all, you might eat too little, or move too much.
Choose good quality fat in your pregnancy diet
Fat quality is important for both the mother and the baby. Fat is available in different varieties: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. During pregnancy, the polyunsaturated fat is extra important.
Rapeseed oil and olive oil have a good distribution between saturated, unsaturated and polyunsaturated fat and can be used in cooking. It is also good if the food fat you use is vitamin D enriched because vitamin D is an important nutrient that is difficult to come up in recommended amounts of.
Omega 3 fat is polyunsaturated and an essential fat found mainly in fish. Therefore, you should eat fish two or three times a week. If you don’t like fish, shrimp and mussels are good alternatives. Eggs such as beetroot pie and mackerel in tomato sauce are also good sources of Omega 3. Some algae also contain Omega 3.
If you never eat fish or seafood, ask your midwife for advice. Walnuts, rapeseed oil and flaxseed oil can to some extent cover the need for the essential polyunsaturated fat.
How to get enough protein in your pregnancy diet
If you eat a mixed diet, ie food from both the animal and plant kingdoms, you will often get enough protein and other nutrients to cover the need during your pregnancy.
For those who eat vegetarian, or vegan foods and exclude all products from the animal kingdom, legumes provide good nutrition. Soybeans and other beans as well as lentils and peas, or ready meals made from legumes, contain protein, iron, folic acid, zinc and selenium and other important nutrients. If you exclude eggs, milk and cheese you may have a lack of calcium, vitamin B12, vitamin D and omega-3 fats. If you choose alternative dairy products, based on, for example, soy, oats, coconut or nuts, it is important that they are enriched. Many people who eat vegan foods take supplements to get enough nutrients. Contact a dietician if you eat vegan foods and feel unsure if you are getting enough nutrition. The dietitian can go through what you eat and give advice to increase your nutritional intake. You can also contact a health center to check your nutritional status. Then you will find out what you need to supplement with.
Slow carbohydrates last longer
Just as when you are not pregnant, it is good to choose carbohydrates of a slightly slower kind, ie those that are not absorbed so quickly in the body, but make you feel full for a longer time. This, in turn, means that you will not be as eager to eat between meals. Slow carbohydrates have a so-called low glycemic index, a low GI value. Examples of such foods are bulgur, quinoa, brown rice, buckwheat, sorghum, whole grain pasta, high fiber bread and other high fiber foods.
It is good if you can avoid larger quantities of soft drinks, cakes, snacks and sweets, as it mostly contains sugar and has a very high GI value. The energy only lasts a short time and your body does not get enough nutrition. It can soon make you crave something sweet again.
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