Pregnancy can make you feel a lot more tired than usual. Consultant dietitian Sarah Keogh explains how to stay active and energised throughout the whole nine months.
We all know that we are going to gain weight when we get pregnant, we will probably have morning sickness and our toes will, sooner or later, be lost from view, but very few of us are ever ready for the sheer tiredness that comes with it.
Being tired in the last few months of pregnancy is expected but few people are ready for the complete exhaustion of the first three months and just how quickly energy can run down during the day for the next six months. A lot of this tiredness is just going to happen but we can sometimes add to it ourselves by trying to do too much and by trying to boost flagging energy with the quick fix of a sugary snack.
Although treats can give us a fast boost of energy, always choosing sugar-rich snacks means we can miss out on the healthier foods that can have a real impact on our energy levels. So how can we make improve our energy levels and what are the best foods to choose? Here are the top tips for keeping your pregnancy diet on track.
It’s a life-line for so many of us – from the first pick-me-up of the morning to the brew that restores us at the afternoon slump. One of the hardest parts about pregnancy for many women is having to cut back or cut out their coffee and tea and the boost they provide. Luckily, help is at hand. First of all, whilst you do need to keep caffeine under 200mg per day, you don’t have to cut it out completely. If you are a coffee drinker, you can switch to tea or save your one cup of coffee a day for when you really need it.
2. Get organised with some healthy snacks.
The beauty of healthy snacks like dried fruit and mixed nuts is that, not only are they going to be lower in sugar, they are literally packed with the minerals you need. Nuts are a great source of things like vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, even iron. And their energy is slow release so you get a more sustained energy lift.
3. Listen to your body.
When your body is telling you it needs to rest, it means that it needs to work on something – and during pregnancy that something is your baby! Remember that you are making a whole new little person and so even if you are sitting down, your body is still very active and busy. Don’t fight your tiredness: give in. If you can sit down, do. If you can take a nap, don’t dither around wiping down counters. And stop staying up late to watch rubbish on the TV – go to bed. The more time you give to actually getting the rest you need, the more energy you will have for all of the other demands life makes of you – after all, life doesn’t stop just because you are pregnant!
4. Keep moving.
The fitter you are, the more energy you will have. Although you may not be able to follow your usual exercise routine you can still aim to get in some regular walks or go for a swim. Changes to your posture during your pregnancy also means that you lose a lot of muscle, especially from back and buttocks. Less muscle makes it harder to do day-to-day tasks and drives down energy. Swimming, walking, exercise bikes, Pilates or yoga will all help to work those muscles, minimise loss and keep energy levels up.
5. Eat breakfast.
You may feel more like throwing up your breakfast than eating it in the first three months, but after that, having breakfast will set up your energy levels for the day. Research shows that eating breakfast actually makes fatty, sugary foods unappetising to our brains. So, by eating breakfast, we can make healthier choices more often as well as fuel our energy for the day. Try a high-fibre cereal topped with banana along wholegrain toast or a poached egg and wholegrain toast followed by yoghurt topped with berries.
6. Go for fibre.
Foods that are high in fibre take longer to digest, so they are full of slow release energy. This means that instead of the usual short-lived sugar boost, you get a longer-lasting lift. Choose wholegrain bread instead of white, add beans to soups and salads, snack on fruit between meals and make sure half of your plate at dinner is salad or vegetables. This won’t just help your energy levels, it will also help to minimise your weight gain.
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