A FEW weeks ago, I did a nutrition talk and cooking demo for a group of expecting mums. As usual, there were plenty of questions asked during the Q&A. I’d like to share some of them with you.
I’M CURRENTLY IN MY FINAL TRIMESTER. I GET CONSTIPATED AND IT’S DRIVING ME CRAZY. WHAT CAN I DO?
Constipation is a common problem for pregnant women. However, do be cautious about taking over-the-counter laxatives as these may not be recommended for pregnant women.
Here are some natural ways to get your bowel moving and prevent constipation:
• Aim to drink two litres (eight cups) of water every day to stay hydrated, unless you have been told by your doctor to be on fluid restriction. Water also helps to ease constipation.
• Boost your fibre intake naturally by including more fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains in your daily meals. Make sure you do this consistently to get the best results.
• Fruits and vegetables such as papaya, banana, prunes and ladies’ fingers have a natural laxative effect that make them good food choices for preventing constipation.
MY DOCTOR DIAGNOSED ME AS BEING ANAEMIC AND TOLD ME TO EAT MORE FOOD WITH IRON. WHAT SHOULD I EAT?
Here are some dietary considerations if you’re anaemic during pregnancy:
• Include food choices that are naturally high in iron. They include red meat (beef, lamb and mutton), sardines, dark leafy green vegetables, soya beans, tauhu, tempeh, dried fruits and seafood.
These will complement your iron supplement intake.
• Read food labels when you buy packaged foods. Go for food products that are fortified with iron such as crackers, bread, wholegrain cereals and orange juice.
• Vegans who do not eat any form of animal protein, eggs and dairy should include a variety of beans, nuts and seeds at every meal to get sufficient protein.
However, vegans do run a high chance of becoming anaemic, especially pregnant vegan women. It’s important to talk to your doctor about appropriate supplements to take.
I HATE MORNING SICKNESS. I’M NAUSEATED AND THIS MAKES ME FEARFUL OF EATING. WHAT CAN I DO?
Holding down your food and getting sufficient calories can be challenging for a pregnant woman suffering from morning sickness.
Contrary to its name, morning sickness can occur at any time of the day. Mine personally started every day on the dot at 6pm.
Here are some pointers to ease the sickness.
• In most cases, bouts of nausea are confined to certain times. Learn to observe them so that you can then plan your day around the time you start to feel sick.
• Observe your morning sickness trend so you can plan when to eat your meals and supplement when you’re least likely to throw up.
•Avoid greasy meals as they make the nausea worse.
• Sip plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Soups, fruit juices, porridge, milk or even foods with high water content such as fruit and vegetables will add to your overall fluid intake.
• If your morning sickness is severe, consult your doctor who can prescribe medication to make the situation better.
NOW THAT I’M PREGNANT, I’VE GOT ALL KINDS OF SUPPLEMENTS TO TAKE. I USUALLY TAKE THEM WITH MY BREAKFAST, WHERE I HAVE A CUP OF COFFEE. SOME DAYS I FORGET TO TAKE MY SUPPLEMENTS. DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR ME?
Pregnant and breastfeeding women do need more of certain nutrients such as iron, calcium, folic acid, beta carotene (a form of vitamin A) and vitamin C.
As they require a higher amount of important nutrients that can be difficult to get from food alone, your doctor will prescribe supplements right from the beginning of the antenatal visits.
All antenatal supplements contain iron. If you are anaemic, your doctor will prescribe an additional iron supplement to take daily. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions on the dosage at all times.
Here are some pointers to keep in mind:
• Do not take iron or antenatal supplements with coffee, tea or milk (dairy) as they inhibit the absorption of the nutrients. Water is best.
• Iron is better absorbed when taken together with a vitamin C-rich food or drink. For example, take your iron supplement together with a fruit juice.
• Wait at least two hours before taking your antenatal or iron supplements if you’ve already drunk a cup of coffee.
• The antenatal supplements only work well if you remember to take them consistently every day. Stick to a routine you can follow.
• Don’t forget to pack your antenatal supplements even if you travel.
NUTRITION IN THE KITCHEN
This simple dish is rich in iron and fibre. Serve with hot rice or chapatti and a cucumber yogurt raita. Complete your meal with a serving of fresh fruit.
600g lean minced lamb
1 medium red onion — finely chopped
4 cloves garlic — finely minced
3cm piece of ginger — finely minced
1 ½ tbsp garam masala
4 tbsp tomato puree
2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
2 cups (500ml) water
180g frozen peas — thawed
½ cup chopped coriander
Salt and crushed black pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
• Heat olive oil in a small pot or deep saucepan on medium heat.
• Sautee the onion, garlic and ginger till translucent and fragrant.
• Stir in the minced lamb and cook for 12 minutes or till the lamb turns brown. Pour off any excess oil from the pan.
• Now add in the garam masala, turmeric, chilli powder and tomato puree. Mix all the ingredients well and continue to fry for three minutes.
• Pour in the water and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for about 12 minutes. Leave the pot or saucepan uncovered.
• Add in the peas and allow to simmer for another eight minutes.
• Lastly, add in the coriander and season with salt and pepper to taste.
* Indra Balaratnam is a consultant dietitian who believes in simple, practical ways to eating well and living healthy. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org