Pregnancy is one of the few times when we focus properly on what we’re eating and drinking, and because we are now also feeding that growing child, our body will quickly remind us if we’re not getting enough of something, or too much of something else!
For example, if we don’t eat regular, healthy snacks we find we not only run out of energy more quickly than we did when we weren’t pregnant, but we can also start to feel a bit wobbly and dizzy. Another example would be keeping ourselves well hydrated can really help fight off pregnancy leg cramps.
Pregnancy Discomforts Caused by Diet
A whole range of pregnancy discomforts can be better controlled or even eliminated when we eat and drink more sensibly. We don’t have to be super-good (and we deserve the odd treat at this special time!) but we can quickly see the benefits of putting a bit more thought into what we put into our systems.
Wind and bloating are very common during pregnancy, and are certainly unwelcome when we are feeling big and achy with our growing bumps.
Heartburn and diarrhoea can also be more common during pregnancy, which is the last thing you need if you feel tired and drained anyway.
Good diet can help boost energy levels and help if you are having trouble sleeping.
Five Steps to Happy Eating in Pregnancy
…when do I eat? Are breakfast and lunch your largest meals of the day, when you will have time to use all that food for energy? Or do you eat after 8pm at night?
Try to eat your evening meal before 8pm and if you are hungry later before bed, try to have something light and digestible. (However, it might also be worth keeping a banana by the side of your bed as you’ll be surprised how you can wake up starving during the night and need something to eat that can start to work for you immediately.)
…is my diet too rich? Your hunger might tempt you to go for massive portions or high-carb, high-fat options when making your own meals, or whilst eating out. These are too much for your system to cope with, causing problems like heartburn even if you never suffered with it before pregnancy. Also, you will find that your raised body temperature in pregnancy can make you far more likely to bring back up rich cheesy or creamy sauces, so opting for lighter, less greasy dishes is safer, even if the ‘comfort food’ feels like a good idea at the time!
Don’t feel you have to completely deprive yourself. Treats like the occasional cake are fine, but if you have a bad reaction to them, try to wean yourself off these for now and find smaller treats like a few sweets, otherwise you will only make yourself more unhappy and possibly get put off some of your favourite dishes for life.
…is my diet all fast food and not enough fruit? Pregnancy is a good time to keep up your five-a-day fruit and veg regime. You will quickly find that a bag of crisps does not burn long enough to give your pregnancy body the energy it needs.
If you’re bored by apples and bananas, take pleasure in exploring more exotic fruits for novelty. And make sure you buy good quality fruit and veg – they taste better and whilst they may cost more, you are far more likely to finish off your punnet of mango, strawberries or kiwi fruit if they’re not all soft and soggy.
…am I taking pleasure in my food? Whether you already have children or you’re working, it’s easy to forget to give yourself time to eat properly.
If you don’t have time for a bigger meal, eat small things and sit down to eat them without rushing. Make sure you have a small drink at the same time. Afterwards, read a magazine or browse your emails (or this site!) for five or ten minutes at least before going off to do something else.
Pregnancy has many natural ways of slowing you down, and it’s for good reason!
…what am I drinking? Thinking is now steering towards cutting out alcohol altogether during pregnancy, but some doctors feel the occasional small glass of wine is not a problem. However, some women find that just one sip can set off heartburn when they are pregnant. (If very occasionally someone offered me a small glass of champagne at a special party, I instantly got heartburn during both my pregnancies!)
Hopefully you have already cut right back with alcohol as it can not only affect the baby but can mess with your sleeping habits and make you feel more dehydrated at a time when you need to keep up your good fluids.
Some people believe you should also cut caffeine out completely; certainly it’s a good idea to reduce your intake as it can cause similar problems to alcohol.
Try to drink more fresh, unsweetened juices and lots of water.
Your A to Z guide of what to eat in pregnancy