Myths and facts about nutrition during pregnancy

By admin
05 April 2014

It’s often hard to separate the myths from the facts when it comes to what you can and can’t eat during pregnancy. As we celebrate Pregnancy Awareness Week this week child nutrition expert Claire McHugh helps to bust common myths and provides some guidance on healthy choices for you and your developing baby.

Myth: Eating for two

Truth: We've all heard this myth. While it's true your nutritional needs increase and you require extra nutrients such as calcium and iron while you’re pregnant, this doesn’t mean you should be eating double portions. You don't need unnecessary calories; eat smarter and choose nutrient-dense options such as lean proteins, fruits and vegetables and whole grains that give your unborn baby a strong, healthy start.

Myth: Take it easy

Truth: Often pregnant women believe this means relaxing and putting their feet up for the duration of the pregnancy. If you’re used to exercising, it’s ok to stay active during your pregnancy and to continue a regular exercise routine. Not only is this a healthier option, exercise also helps you feel better, fixes any pregnancy aches you may have and, best of all, shortens your labour time and helps you get back in shape after your baby is born. Still, always check with your doctor that your exercise programme is safe and doesn’t inflict any unwanted danger on the baby.

Myth: Any kind of food is fine during pregnancy

Truth: Endless, crazy cravings are a given and are probably harmless unless, like many pregnant women, you give in to cravings and eat far more food than is usually healthy for you. Try to limit your intake of sugary foods such as chocolate, cookies, and sweets by reducing the amount you eat when you’re craving these types of foods.

Myth: You shouldn't eat fish during your pregnancy

Truth: Not all fish is bad for you during your pregnancy. Fish provides high-quality protein, is low in fat and contains omega-3 fatty acids and other essential nutrients. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish play a role in your baby's brain and eye development. Certain fish that contain high levels of mercury can be harmful to your baby, but during your pregnancy you can eat fish and seafood such as hake, sardines, salmon, canned tuna and trout, which are low in mercury.

Myth: Meat is important

Truth: When pregnant, you need as much iron and protein as you can get and one of the ways to make sure you eat enough iron is to include meat in your diet. However, if you’re a vegetarian you can supplement meat with other forms of iron and protein sources such as legumes and pulses (lentils and beans). You may want to talk to your gynaecologist or a nutritionist to make sure your baby is getting enough of these nutrients and to get suggestions on the kinds of foods you can eat.

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