Nutrition and exercise in pregnancy

This is a very special blog, my friend Katie from Imperfectly Pure, is a Personal Trainer, specialist in Bikram Yoga and is the Queen of all things natural. She has written 2 great blogs for us focusing on nutrition and exercise whilst pregnant. I’m sure you have all been reading articles about what not to eat, but trust me, you won’t have read anything like this!

So over to Katie…

If you are pregnant and reading this, HUGE CONGRATULATIONS!
What an amazing feeling you must have
and I am so happy you are having a read of this blog post, where I will offer
some advice on optimum nutrition, and exercise, during your pregnancy.

Part 1 –
Nutrition: Keeping healthy is by far and away mostly down to good nutrition

If you already eat a well-balanced diet then now is absolutely
the time to keep that up, if you don’t, then, again, now is the time to START.
You don’t need me to tell you now that your baby growing inside you is relying
on you to feed it with all of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals it needs to
grow into a healthy foetus. Nutrition is defined as “the process of providing
or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth”

So from this you can see that the way you nourish yourself
really does matter: you want foods that HELP health and growth, not take away
from it. There are certain foods that I would highly recommend you eliminate
from your diet now: these are processed foods, refined sugars, nonorganic dairy
and meats and artificial sweeteners. These foods not only give your body
absolutely nothing, they actually deplete your body of vital vitamins and minerals
as your body struggles to deal with processing them.

Foods that should be avoided all together during
pregnancy include non-pasteurized dairy products, soft cheese, undercooked or
processed meats and poultry, undercooked eggs.

So, how much should
you eat?

Dr David Richmond,
President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) said:

is in fact a myth that you need extra calories for the first two-thirds of
pregnancy. It is only in the last 12 weeks that women need an extra 200
calories a day. A healthy diet, vitamin supplementation and physical activity
will benefit both you and your baby during pregnancy; it will also help you to
maintain a healthy weight after you have had your baby.”


My advice is this: Focus
on keeping it Green, Lean, Whole and Fresh

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Keep it Green

  • Leafy green vegetables: eat loads of these,
    because they are loaded with folate, a B vitamin that studies have shown
    reduces the chance of your child being born with neural tube defects (folic
    acid is the synthetic form of this). Green leafy vegetable (turnip greens,
    spinach, collard greens, and broccoli), beans (lentils, mung beans, black
    beans) and animal liver represent the three groups’ of “natural” foods that
    contain the highest levels of folate
  • Avocados! These are also loaded with folate,
    potassium, vitamin C and vitamin B6 (which help baby’s tissue and brain growth
    as well as eases morning sickness); avocados are a delicious way to get your
    vitamins. Spread some ripe avocado on your whole grain toast as a healthy
    substitute for mayo, or eat it whole with a squeeze of lemon and pinch of black
    pepper – and smear the reminder on your face for a highly nourishing face mask

Keep it Lean

  • Protein:
    the amino acids in protein are the building blocks of every cell in your and
    your baby’s bodies. High-protein foods also keep your hunger at bay by
    stabilizing your blood sugar, which is why you should aim for three servings
    (that’s about 75 grams) of protein per day. Lean meat is an excellent option,
    since it’s also high in iron, critical to help your baby develop red blood cell
    supply and support yours, too. Iron also helps build baby’s brain by
    strengthening nerve connections. Aim for organic as much as possible and try
    different things, Venison is an excellent source of lean protein.
  • Wild
    Salmon, sardines, Herring and Oysters: packed with protein AND omega-3
    essential fatty acids, most importantly a type called DHA. Research has
    confirmed that adding Omega-3 fats to the diets of pregnant women has a
    positive effect on visual and cognitive development of the baby, and higher
    consumption of omega-3s may reduce your baby’s risk of allergies. These healthy
    fats may also help reduce the risk of parental depression. In addition,
    research has found that women who consumed greater amounts of omega-3 fatty
    acids during the third trimester were less likely to show signs of major
    depression during pregnancy, and for up to eight months after the birth.
  • Vegetarian
    options for Omega-3 include eggs, walnuts, chia and flax seeds; For Iron,
    look to dark leafy greens, cooked dried beans, quinoa, lentils, dried fruit and
  • In order
    to increase the amount of Iron you absorb from your food, pair it with Vitamin
    C rich food like
    red bell peppers, citrus, tomatoes, strawberries or kiwi).

Keep it Whole

  • Wholefoods are foods that are unprocessed and
    unrefined, or as unprocessed and unrefined as possible before being consumed.
    Whole foods typically do not contain added salt, carbohydrates,
    or fat. Fruit and vegetables are classified as wholefoods, as are things like
    oats, lentils, nuts, and kefir – you should be eating all of these things
  • Lentils: back to
    Folate we go! Lentils are packed with it. Lentils also boast protein, vitamin
    B6 and iron. Plus they’re very intestine friendly.
  • Oats are full of fibre
    (helpful if you’re dealing with constipation), B vitamins, iron and a host
    of other minerals. Fill your breakfast bowl with them, but don’t stop there,
    think about making a truly nutrient dense breakfast bowl! I like to make a
    green smoothie, by blending spinach, kale, celery, and avocado, blended with
    coconut milk and then add oats, a chopped banana or peach, handful of chia,
    walnut and pumpkin seeds, and any superfoods I have, like Bee Pollen, Cinnamon,
    Raw Cacao Powder, powdered greens etc. Visit my blog for a recipe I made earlier.

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I absolutely love devouring these breakfast bowls – they are
delicious and provide variety, which really is the key to ensure you fill your
body with baby-building vitamins and minerals.

If you do feel constipated, don’t worry, it is really normal
and is because, as well as many other parts of your body, your digestive tract
relaxes from very early on. There is more room in it meaning food does not get
squeezed through as easily as possible. Fibre rich-foods will help so make sure
you eat fibre rich foods daily:

  • Oats –
    mentioned above
  • Brown or
    wholegrain rice. White rice doesn’t offer as much fibre.
  • Beans and
    Pulses: chickpeas and lentils are full of fibre, high protein and low fat.
  • Nuts! In particular Almonds (the King of Nuts because they are so nutritious – high in
    healthy fats, protein, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, and Vitamin E), pecans,
    and walnuts have more fibre than other nuts.
  • Sweet Potato
    (the skin is the important bit!)
  • Dried fruit.
    If fresh fruit isn’t available, dried fruit offers a fibre-full snack. A 50g
    portion of dried figs is 4g fibre.

Kefir is a
fermented milk drink, cultured from kefir grains. It is a rich source of
calcium, protein and B-vitamins, and also a great pro-biotic, which will help
your digestive tract too! Calcium is important and there are many rich sources
out there – I advise looking beyond cow’s milk and yogurt as our bodies
actually absorb more calcium from foods like Almonds and Bok Choy. Below are
some vegan sources of calcium, try to include daily:

  • Chia seeds 300 mg per 1.5 ounces serving
  • Collard greens 210 mg per ½ cup serving
  • Kale 205 mg per ½ cup serving
  • Bok Choy 190 mg per ½ cup serving
  • Figs 135mg per 5 fig serving
  • White Beans 120 mg per ½ cup serving
  • Turnip Greens 104 mg per ½ cup serving
  • Spinach 99 mg per ½ cup serving
  • Almonds 93 mg per ¼ cup serving
  • Sesame Seeds 51 mg per 1 tablespoon serving

Tips to get more into your diet

  • Add legumes and beans to a chili or stew
  • Make omelettes packed with green veg
  • Add nuts to your oats in the morning,
  • Chia seeds soaked overnight in plant-milk make a
    DELICIOUS and highly nutritious breakfast, similar in consistency to rice
  • Mix tofu as well as kale and other greens into
  • Top salads with broccoli, seaweed, almonds and
    sunflower seeds
  • Spread almond butter or hummus on whole grain or
    pita bread

Keep it Fresh

Fresh Fruit, Fresh Vegetables, and as much as you can
organic especially for the following “Dirty Dozen”, or so: apples, peaches,
nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, bell peppers, cucumbers,
cherry tomatoes, potatoes, hot peppers, kale.

The fruits and veggies I advise eating the most of are
highly beneficial for 4 reasons:

  • Antioxidant power: meaning they quench
    oxidative damage which underlies the whole ageing process
  • Polyphenol Power: These often protect us from
    infection but also, in a highly intelligent way, seem to switch off disease
    processes and switch on healthy genetic switching that help us stay healthy and
    live long.
  • Skinny Sirtuins: nicknamed the ‘skinny’
    genes because they help you burn fat and build muscle. The first identified was
    resveratrol in the red skin of grapes and peanuts. Others include green tea,
    cocoa powder, turmeric, kale, onions, olives, parsley
  • Contain Anti-cancer salvestrols: these are
    molecules found in common plants that have a strong anticancer effect.

Get as many of these as possible onto your shopping list: Blueberries,
Kale, Olives, blackcurrant, Broccoli, Cherries, Artichokes, Turmeric, Ginger,
Cinnamon, Red Cabbage, Avocado, Asparagus, Apple, Onions, Watercress, Beetroot,
Basil, Parsley, Watermelon, Aloe Vera, Cucumber, Spinach, Mint, Cauliflower and

Focus mainly on the vegetables, 5 servings of veg and 2 of
fruit per day is a good rule of thumb. A really simple way to increase the
amounts of fruit and vegetables you get into your diet is with smoothies. They
are nutritious, delicious, easy to digest, will increase your energy, stabilise
your blood sugar levels and give you an instant burst of all the nutrients you
need to nourish yourself and your baby. This smoothie below is FULL of
pregnancy goodness:

Serves 1


  • Half a ripe avocado
  • Half a juicy mango
  • Handful of spinach
  • Handful of kale
  • 5 mint leaves
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 10 almonds
  • 10 walnut halves
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Maca (optional, if you have it –
    Maca is a fantastic superfood for women who are either trying to get pregnant,
    or are, as it balances the female hormones, It contains 31 different minerals
    and 60 phytonutrients and is nourishing for the endocrine system, aiding the
    pituitary, adrenal & thyroid glands – all involved in hormonal balance. It
    has been scientifically researched for the use of increasing fertility since
    1961 and has been shown to contain specific compounds called glucosinolates
    which directly affect fertility for both men and women. In women, maca works by
    controlling oestrogen. Oestrogen levels that are too high or too low at the
    wrong time can keep a woman from becoming pregnant or keep her from carrying to
    term. Excess oestrogen levels can cause progesterone levels to become too low.
    Taking maca may help to increase the progesterone levels which are essential to carrying a healthy
  • Add water if desired or needed (depending on
    size of blender)

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What else can you do? Well, You may also want to consider supplementing
your diet:

  • Royal
    Jelly is AMAZING! It is one of nature’s richest health foods, containing a
    wide range of essential nutritional elements, including: Vitamins B1, B2, B3,
    B4, B5, B6, B7, B8, B9 (folic acid), B12 and Vitamin C. it also contains 30
    amino acids (essential for the building of proteins and each cells genetic
    structure) plus the elements of iron, potassium, sodium, chromium, manganese
    and nickel.
  • Omega-3s
    (I have mentioned above). Taking a high quality, purified fish oil supplement,
    as well as eating foods that are rich in omega-3s.
  • Maca Root
    Powder (which I mention above)
  • Probiotics
    are also critical, especially during pregnancy. Babies are born with a
    completely sterile gut and they culture their beneficial gut bacteria from what
    they receive from their mother when passing through the birth canal and from
    nursing in the months afterward. A high quality probiotic will help ensure that
    your baby will get a good dose of beneficial bacteria, which can reduce risk of
    illness in the first few years.
  • If you
    prefer a traditional Combination support: Zita West: Vital Essence is a
    great new pregnancy supplement, split by trimester, it contains all the
    vitamins and minerals you need in one go

Finally, and probably
most important of all, STAY HYDRATED
– this is more important now than ever, especially if you continue exercising.
Don’t be tempted to drink less because you are weeing so much! Drink until your
urine is a pale yellow or clear colour – anything darker than that is a sign you
are dehydrated and so is your baby. Start the day off with a pint of water and
a hot water with ginger and lemon, Get in the habit of carrying water with you
everywhere and have a 2 litre bottle on your desk at work or at home.

I hope this has
been useful for you? Any questions I would love to hear from you, with lots of
love and a happy, healthy pregnancy.


[email protected]



Yep, pretty informative isn’t it? I thought so to. Next week Katie will talk about Exercise in Pregnancy. In the meantime, check out Katie’s site for tons of healthy recipes and check out her Facebook page for lots of tips and motivation (which I need most of the time!!)

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