Looking tobeat pregnancy fatigue? MH consults the experts on nutritious foods that are bound to get your energy levels back on top.
WORDS REBECCA WONG
Pregnant and tempted to reach for snacks to get through the afternoon? We don’t blame you. After all, pregnancy can take a toll on your energy levels, leaving you fighting to stay awake as the day goes on. But before you decide to nibble on those chocolate bars, consider keeping to nutrient-filled energy foods instead. “Energy will be provided by all foods but in addition to calories the body requires certain macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fats and fibre) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals),” notes Celeste Viviers, registered dietician and founder of nutrition and wellness consultancy Nutrilicious. With that in mind, here are the energy-boosting foods you should be consuming to keep lethargy at bay.
We all know bananas are a rich source of potassium, fibre and various other antioxidants. As it turns out, they’re also great for keeping you going if you’re experiencing that much-dreaded morning sickness. “Morning sickness and vomiting can be very taxing as it also depletes electrolytes and energy reserves of the body,” says Ujjwala Baxi, registered dietitian and founder of Poshan Cure thru Diet. “Starting the day with a banana can help to prevent pregnancy-induced nausea, vomiting and hypertension.”
Cheese, milk and yoghurt are some of the foods that fall into this category. Many dairy products are high in calcium, an essential nutrient which assists in regulating fluid balance and the building of bones for infants, mentions Viviers.
The general recommended calcium intake for pregnant
women is around 1200mg per day, equivalent to
three to four dairy servings daily.
One serving may consist of either one cup of milk, one cup of yoghurt or 30g of cheese, Viviers recommends.
These include fish like mackerel, salmon, anchovies and sardines, all of which are high in Omega-3 fatty acids. “An adequate intake of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, a type of Omega-3 fatty acid) is essential for growth and development of the infant brain and retina in the eye,” explains Viviers. “Diets devoid of fish are mostly deficient in DHA.” Viviers also recommends a daily DHA intake of around 250 - 500mg for pregnant women, which averages to four servings of oily fish per week. In terms of portions, a serving would measure around 90g (roughly the size of a deck of cards).
Green Leafy Vegetables
A great source of multiple nutrients, this superfood is especially rich in iron. “High-iron foods prevent iron deficiency anaemia and related fatigue in pregnant mothers,” says Baxi. 27mg of iron per day is recommended during pregnancy, adds Viviers. This rounds up to around two to three servings of leafy vegetables (one serving equivalent to one cup).
So next time you’re at the supermarket, be sure
to stock up on those trusty greens like spinach, kale,
lettuce, kai lan (Chinese broccoli), cabbage and turnips.
Last but not least, don’t forget to consume enough water! “Dehydration in pregnancy is a leading cause of fatigue and cramps, so an adequate water intake is integral to high energy levels,” reminds Baxi. Therefore, load up on that H2Oif you want to stay alert and feel good. Whilst water intake requirements vary from individual to individual, the European Food Safety Authority recommends approximately 1,850ml (1.85 litres) a day for pregnant women.