Think you’ve got the ‘healthy diet’ covered? Think again… about two thirds of pregnant women believe their diet is healthy, but when it comes down to it most are not eating enough of the five core food groups.
A well balanced, nutritious diet is important at every stage of life, but when you are pregnant it is important to keep yourself healthy and give your baby all the essential nutrients it needs to develop and grow.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend the following daily food servings for women:
|Core food group||Standard serves per day*
|Examples of one standard serve|
|Vegetables, beans & legumes||5||5||7½||About 75 g (100-350 kJ):
½ cup cooked green vegetables
1 cup green leafy or raw salad vegetables
½ medium potato (or other starchy vegetables)
½ cup cooked, dried or canned beans, peas or lentils
|Fruit||2||2||2||About 150 g (350 kJ):
1 medium apple
2 small apricots or plums
1 cup diced or canned fruit (no added sugar)
|Cereals (grains)||6||8½||9||About 500 kJ:
1 slice (40g) bread
½ medium (40g) roll or flat bread
½ cup (75–120g) cooked rice, pasta, noodles or polenta
|Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts and legumes||2½||3½||2½||About 500-600 kJ:
65g cooked lean meat (e.g. beef, lamb, veal or pork)
80g cooked lean poultry (e.g. chicken or turkey)
100g cooked fish or one small can of fish
2 large eggs (120g)
30g nuts, seeds, nut butter
(milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives)
|2½||2½||2½||About 500-600 kJ:
1 cup (250ml) milk (e.g. fresh, long life, buttermilk)
2 slices (40g) of hard cheese
¾ cup (200g) yoghurt
1 cup (250ml) soy, rice or other cereal drink (with at least 100mg of added calcium per 100 ml)
* Adults (19-50 years)
For more information visit: www.eatforhealth.gov.au
Tips for healthy eating during pregnancy
We all typically consume too many foods high in energy, fats, sugars and salt, and do not eat enough fruit, vegetables and dietary fibre – so here are a few tips to help you start making some healthy choices when you are pregnant:
- Good nutrition is about eating a wide variety of healthy foods, so it may mean cutting down on some of your favourites and topping up with some healthy alternatives
- Don’t ‘eat for two’ – it’s best just to eat to satisfy your appetite with healthy foods and remember a steady weight gain during pregnancy is normal, but it’s important not to gain too much weight
- Eat more grain or cereal based foods, particularly wholegrain and high fibre ones, rather than ‘sometimes foods’ such as cakes and biscuits
- Try ‘eating a rainbow’ every day to get the full range of nutritional benefits from your fruits and vegetables
- Remember to drink plenty of water – about 9 cups (2.3 litres) of fluids a day is recommended.
Important nutrients during pregnancy
When you’re pregnant your body needs additional vitamins, minerals and nutrients and the best way of getting most of these is through a varied, healthy diet.
Supplements may be recommended for some pregnant women – but always check with your doctor or midwife before taking any vitamin or mineral supplements.
Your body’s iron requirements during pregnancy are higher than normal. You’ll make nearly 50% more blood than usual and extra iron is essential in making more haemoglobin (the important part of red blood cells that carries oxygen around your body). Plus, your developing baby will be storing away all the iron they need for their first 6 months after birth. This means you need extra amounts of iron in your diet or you may risk becoming anaemic.
- Lean red meat, poultry, fish, leafy green vegetables, legumes and dried fruit are all good sources of iron
- Eating foods rich in iron at the same time as foods high in vitamin C, such as orange juice, helps the iron to be absorbed – while tea and coffee (and other caffeine drinks) reduce the amount of iron absorbed
- The recommended daily iron intake during pregnancy is 27 milligrams – some women may need iron supplements, but speak to your healthcare provider first as large amounts of iron may be toxic.
Folate (folic acid)
Folate, a B-group vitamin vital for healthy growth and development, help protect your baby from neural tube defects such as spina bifida. It’s important to get enough folate in your diet before you’re pregnant and during the first three months of your pregnancy.