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We all know navigating nutrition during pregnancy can be a bit of a minefield. In fact, research tells us that women aren’t getting the nutrition they need while pregnant – an Australian study found that 100% of pregnant Aussie women do not get the recommended daily serves of the five food groups needed during pregnancy.
And while there is increasing temptation to reach for a delivered, take-away option, this is not the healthiest or advised choice at this time of your life.
Bounty Parents spoke with Accredited Practising Dietitian Melanie McGrice APD, a specialist in nutrition for fertility and pregnancy and ambassador for Pregnancy Chef – Australia’s first meal delivery service for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive, about how you can ensure you’re getting the nutrition you and your baby need.
Key nutrients needed during pregnancy
During these crucial stages of life, women and their babies need nutrient-dense foods – this means foods that are rich in nutrients but relatively low in energy (kilojoules).
“There are several nutrients that are key pre- and during pregnancy, to ensure a healthy mum and bub. These include iron, folate, calcium, iodine and omega-3s,” says Melanie.
According to research, pregnant Aussie women do not get the recommended daily serves of the five food groups needed during pregnancy.
Can you still hit all your nutrition targets if you’re vegetarian?
First time mum-to-be Katie Robinson says being vegetarian means she generally doesn’t struggle with what she can and can’t eat while pregnant, but it’s still incredibly difficult to tick all the nutrition boxes.
“I try to stick to wholefoods and veggies, but protein is always in the back of my mind, I probably don’t come close to hitting that target. I order takeaway for maybe two lunches and two dinners each week, when I can’t be bothered to cook or don’t have the groceries handy.
“If I sat down and thought about it I could probably name them [key nutrients], but off the top of my head, only folate and iron come to mind as key.”
“A pregnancy-focused meal service to fill that gap for when I’m time-poor or just not in the mood to play chef would be a lifesaver,” Katie says.
According to Melanie, if you are vegetarian it’s still possible to get all the goodness you need.
“The key is to choose foods that provide a range of vitamins and minerals.
Think legumes, tofu, green leafy veggies, nuts and seeds, all of which will also help up your iron intake. Wholegrains are also a good source of protein for vegetarians,” says Melanie.
Melanie’s top five tips to pack in nutrition
1. Contrary to popular belief, being pregnant does not mean literally ‘eating for two’. Focus on quality, not quantity. By week twelve your baby is still only the size of a plum so he or she certainly doesn’t need a whole bowl of pasta!
2. During the second and third trimesters you can increase your dietary intake by adding one additional serve of protein and grains each day – the goal for most women is to gain approximately 300 grams per week.
3. Your baby’s taste buds are formed during the fourth month of pregnancy – this means that the foods you eat during pregnancy help develop your baby’s future food preferences – so it’s important to expose your little one to a wide variety of different, nutritious foods.
4. With a new baby and little sleep, eating healthily can be challenging! Keep treat foods outside the house to avoid temptation and always keep healthy snacks and water on hand.
5. Some of the best, nutrient-rich snacks for mums and mums-to-be are chia seed pudding, hard boiled eggs, roasted chickpeas, yoghurt and fruit, or a handful of peanuts or hazelnuts.
One way to make it all even easier (delivered to your door, ready to heat and eat kind of easy) is with Pregnancy Chef, which provides the nutrition mums and bubs need in the most delicious, effortless way.
About Pregnancy Chef
Pregnancy Chef is a nutritious, ready-to-eat meal delivery service designed to cut through the many do’s and don’ts of eating when you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive. Pregnancy Chef was born when its founders recognised how hard and confusing it can be for new and expecting mums to get their daily nutritional needs, while navigating complicated food-safety rules. Its mission is to be an extra set of hands for exhausted mums and ensure they, and their growing bubs, are getting delicious and nutritious meals that are super easy to prepare (we’re talking ready-to-eat delivered to your door kind of easy).
Find out more about Pregnancy Chef and view the full menu here.