Finding out that you’re pregnant can certainly be an overwhelming time for many new mums and new dads-to-be. Emotions are often running wild at the beginning of pregnancy, and it may also be a time when you start to think about making changes to your diet, lifestyle and even home environments. I know for me, I was straight into spring cleaning mode, despite it being the end of the summer!
For many people, the start of pregnancy is also the perfect time to start thinking about what’s in your kitchen cupboards and how you can make it easier to eat well, ward off any pregnancy symptoms and deal with any potential cravings during this time.
Eating well during pregnancy:
Firstly, it’s important to get help and support from family members with this too. If you’re wanting to make healthy changes having someone to understand and help you in this can make a big difference. We’re also likely to eat the foods that are most readily available to us and so, if your cupboards are FULL of crisps, chocolates and sweets, then it’s likely that you’re going to be munching on those throughout your pregnancy!
Previous blogs I’ve written explain a little about WHY it’s so important to eat well during pregnancy and may be worth a read if you’ve just found out you’re pregnant:
For those of you just wanting to get your kitchen in order, here is part 1 of my 2 part blog post on…
Pregnancy Pantry Guide: A good kitchen guide to pregnancy:
1.) Stock up on your staples –
Grains such as brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa, couscous and wholewheat pasta are perfect options to buy in bulk and ensure you have to hand in your cupboards. These foods provide plenty of energy but also come along with wholegrains and fibre which will be useful for keeping your digestive system working as effectively as possible. These foods are also a source of protein – important for growth and repair of body tissues, including your growing baby’s. Additionally, staples like these are also fairly cheap to buy, last a long time in your cupboards and take little time to cook. I’d also say that it’s important to include some wholegrains with your meals every day.
Bread, chapattis, pitta breads, bagels, English muffins are all great options to have to hand too, and the best thing about these is that you can freeze them so that they last much longer. Try and always choose wholegrain options of these foods to boost your fibre intakes, something that is very important during the months of pregnancy.
2.) Stock up on nuts !
Nuts are one of my favourite foods. They’re also a source of a multitude of vitamins, minerals, plant compounds, protein, healthy fats and fibre! I always find this tree nut nutrition comparison chart really helpful when remembering just how good nuts are nutritionally. You can also read more from my blog about the health benefits of nuts.
For me, I always think that nuts make the perfect snack food during pregnancy, especially if you combine them with fruits, as fruits contain vitamin C which can actually help you more efficiently absorb any iron present in the nuts. Nuts are energy-dense and fairly filling and therefore are the perfect fuel to help to top you up in-between mealtimes. Additionally, if you’re a vegetarian or a vegan and you’re pregnant, nuts are can be an essential replacement to meat in the diet too.
Remember with nuts that they do contain a lot of calories and so it’s important to not go too nuts with your nuts. A handful is roughly a portion. It might be helpful to buy them in small grab and go packs, or even transfer them to some small tuppawear containers at home and take these out and about with you too allow you to be more in control of exactly how many you eat. It’s also best to opt for plain nuts the majority of the time to reduce your intake of added fat and salt.
3.) Get some plain foods to munch on, especially if you’re suffering from nausea –
Plain foods are perfect to stock up on if you’re suffering from nausea. This is because their limited flavour and dry texture can help you to keep them down when you’re finding all sorts of other foods as triggers. When it comes to plain foods, I’d recommend having a shop around and find what you like to snack on. Check the label to make sure they are a healthy option and use these when you really need an energy boost. Great options include:
- Wholegrain crackers
- Rice cakes
- Plain popcorn
- Wholegrain toast
4.) Get your decaf tea choices in
During pregnancy you’re recommended to limit your intake of caffeine – see my previous blog post on Caffeine Recommendations for Pregnant Women – and if you’re a big tea or coffee lover this can be challenging. However, in the UK we are lucky to have plenty of decaf options available at the supermarket and in high street chains too.
Try stocking your cupboard with your favourite decaf tea as well as going for more exotic options such as herbal teas, fruit teas and naturally decaffinated teas such as rooibus. I like to do this and then just rotate between them so I don’t get too bored of the same tea. During pregnancy I’ve found that I usually start with decaf tea in the morning and then go on to one or two Rooibus during the day and then opt for something like lemon and ginger and/or a fruit tea at night. I’ll be writing a blog on Herbal Teas during Pregnancy too so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for that.
5.) Make the most of your freezer!
Many people aren’t sure about using frozen fruits and vegetables in their meals, but in reality frozen fruits and vegetables can be just as nutritious (often even more so, as they are frozen at their peak)! They are also a budget friendly and very convenient way to store healthy foods, which you can quickly add to any meals to help boost nutrient intakes, fibre and tick off some of your five a day! I can’t recommend stocking up on them enough.
I would also suggest, especially during pregnancy, that you try out having a couple of portions of vegetables with lunch and dinner each day and so using frozen options can be a great way to do this. Using frozen fruits in porridge or in a crumble for example is also a really quick and easy way to add fruits into your daily diet.
Next week I’ll post a second article for week two of my Pregnancy Pantry Guide and another 5 top tips on what to stock up on when you first become pregnant! Do send any feedback or questions to me, Charlotte, on my “contact me” page.
For more information on Healthy Eating During Pregnancy, the NHS website has plenty of useful and evidence-based information too: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/healthy-pregnancy-diet.aspx