We often get the strangest cravings in our first trimester.
Whether it’s vegemite on Tim Tams, muesli with soy sauce or even just an urge to eat more chocolate, chips or sausages, these hankerings for different foods are often our bodies telling us we’re lacking in something.
Suddenly crave a packet of chips? You may be dehydrated or a little bit low in sodium; aching for a steak? Your iron may need a boost; wanting to dive into a bag of jelly beans? You could be lacking in carbs.
Our bodies aren’t the best at interpreting healthy options though and will often point us in the direction of the highest fix of a certain nutrient, rather than the one that will benefit us the most.
An ideal diet when pregnant is much like a normal healthy diet, including a balance of vitamins and nutrients throughout each meal, but there are some key foods that are worth introducing or increasing. Here are some of the best foods to eat when pregnant:
Lentils, peas, beans and peanuts. These are powerhouses in a range of nutrients, including B vitamins, iron, magnesium and potassium – all essential for a healthy growing baby, and its mumma! Indulge in hummus and satay, add mixed beans to salads and visit India once or twice a week – curries and dhals are easy to make, nutritious, nurturing and can be made in bulk and frozen for another day. If you’re looking for a quick savoury snack, keep some frozen edamame (soy beans) in your freezer. They cook quickly in boiling water and you can sprinkle a little bit of unrefined salt on them for a sodium boost.
You can find a quick dhal recipe here: pinchofyum.com/easy-red-lentil-dhal
Vitamin A is vital for your skin health, organ function and to help little one develop their immunity. Luckily, sweet potatoes are packed with it! Offal is sometimes recommended for A vitamins, but their likelihood of bad bacteria, and the fact that they don’t taste nearly as good, makes them a far less favourable. Boil, bake or mash your sweet potatoes, add them cooled into a salad, or take them fresh from the oven and load with a mixed bean chilli, for a big hit of vitamin A, fibre, iron and protein all in one delicious, Mexican-inspired meal! Love & Lemons has simple tips and great ideas here: www.loveandlemons.com/baked-sweet-potato
Avocados are packed with good oils to help your body better absorb other nutrients, as well as B6 and folate to help you make a healthy little brain. Whether you’re mashing into guacamole to go on top of your baked sweet potato, slicing or spreading on toast or even getting tricky and making a scrummy avocado chocolate mousse, the favourite fruit of brunching hipsters is one of the best things you can eat. We know that chocolate mousse got you intrigued, so here’s a yummy recipe for you: www.notenoughcinnamon.com/healthy-avocado-chocolate-mousse
Broccoli & Greens
Dark, leafy green veggies are stacked with goodness and are essential for maintaining a balanced diet. Heaps of vitamins and plenty of fibre make them not only great for development, the fibre boost will also help with any constipation you may experience through pregnancy.
HANDY TIP: Kale is an excellent leafy green, but our bodies find it quite hard to digest. Massage with a little bit of apple cider vinegar before serving or blend a handful in a smoothie and your body will be able to break it down far easier, absorbing all of its goodness.
Slice them on your muesli (rolled oats are great for mums-to-be too!), use in a morning smoothie bowl, have one with lunch or take one with you for a healthy snack on the go. You can even blend them frozen with some berries or cacao for a super-quick, deliciously dairy-free ice cream alternative! One of the highest sources of potassium, bananas will help keep your blood pressure in check and possibly ease any bloating you may be experiencing.
Wild salmon is the best way you can up your omega, an essential nutrient for eye and brain development and function. Tinned salmon or tuna contains some omega, but it is far more beneficial to visit your local fishmonger, buy fresh salmon and lightly grill or barbecue.
You can also whip up a super-simple glaze. Mix two tablespoons each of soy sauce, honey and olive oil. Marinate for an hour, then grill, turning frequently and adding a little of the glaze mixture each time.
If you’re not a fan of fish, omegas are still essential. Flax and sunflower seeds are also rich in omegas, or you can buy a fish or plant-based supplement from your local pharmacy.
As the old saying goes, let food be thy medicine. Eat a wide, balanced and healthy meal and you will help your baby grow, your body function and even ease your pregnancy symptoms and childbirth.
To ease maternity symptoms on the outside of the body, shop our range here.