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Foods to eat in your first trimester – our nutritionist

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At this time it’s not up to eating much at all right now? Make small quantities of green vegetables, wholegrain cereals and legumes your first priority.

The funny thing about nutrition in the early stages of pregnancy is that while there are some key nutrients you do need to ensure you are getting, we need few if any extra calories and often do not feel like eating.

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Keep your focus on getting sufficient nutrients

For this reason, the first 12-14 weeks is all about getting a few key nutrients in the right amounts rather than volume or weight gain. First and foremost an adequate intake of folate, found in leafy green vegetables, wholegrain cereals and legumes is crucial to help prevent neutral tube defects.

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Folate is also involved in cellular metabolism and red blood cell development and plays a key role in energy metabolism. While pregnancy supplements will often tick the box for folate requirements in pregnancy, maintaining an optimal dietary intake should always be the primary goal as we get so much more than just nutrients when we consume them via natural foods.

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Even if you are not consuming a significant amount of food at this time, a serve or two of leafy green veges, an orange, some avocado and a fortified cereal will tick the box for dietary folate during the first 20-24 weeks of your pregnancy.

Top up your iron levels regularly

The second important nutrient that will have a powerful impact on your energy on a daily basis is iron. Iron deficiency in women of child bearing age is relatively common in general with 20% of adult women with low iron or low iron stores.

Low iron levels can leave you feeling exhausted, which when coupled with the added pressures pf pregnancy can exacerbate feelings of fatigue. For this reason, if you are a red meat eater, it is imperative that you consume small serve of iron rich lean red meat at least 3-4 times each week.

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A small serve of lean mince, a lamb cutlet or small piece of steak is all you will need to ensure your rapidly increasing blood volume has access to adequate iron to transport oxygen around the body – you do not need a lot, you just need it regularly. If you are struggling to tolerate meat at this time, ensure you are taking a pregnancy supplement that contains iron.

Salmon, eggs, iodised salt = a functioning thyroid gland

Next and perhaps most importantly we need to talk about iodine. Up to 50% of pregnant and breastfeeding women are deficient in. Iodine has a crucial role in the functioning of the thyroid gland, and low levels over time coming from a low dietary intake of iodine can result in fertility issues, mental retardation, lower infant IQ’s and miscarriage.

It is for this reason that ensuring any pregnancy supplement you take contains iodine but also your diet regularly includes iodine rich foods. Foods rich in iodine include seaweed, salmon, eggs, iodised salt wither smaller amounts in milk and bread made using iodised salt.

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Feeling nauseous? Top up with regular, small meals

If you are finding it difficult to tolerate many foods at this stage of your pregnancy, remember that small meals consumed frequently can help to manage feelings of nausea and milk based drinks, soups, frittatas and small amounts of mincemeat are all nutrient rich ways to get your key nutrients via relatively non offensive foods.

Not eating for prolonged periods of time will generally make the nausea worse and for this reason, eating a plain cracker or two every hour or two will help to manage your morning sickness. Other nutritious foods which may also be tolerated at this time include ice cold vegetable juices, cheese and crackers, herbal tea, plain toast, nut bars and frozen Greek yoghurt with fresh fruit.

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