About food during and after pregnancy

 

High energy snacks for during and after pregnancy

 

Your appetite may be increased during pregnancy, due to the increased demand for nutrients by your growing baby. Good quality food is important at this time, often easy to prepare food is preferable due to time constraints, and feeling sick which affects some women’s ability to cook.

After the birth, your energy requirements can still be increased, particularly if you are breastfeeding your baby or babies. Easy to prepare food is extra important especially in the first weeks after the birth, so that you can choose good foods, but ones that you can access quickly. You may want to pre prepare some foods ready for this time, or stock up the cupboards with foods you like and know will give you the nutrients and energy you need.

Ideas for stocking up in the cupboard or fridge for quick snacks, which can be eaten when you feel hungry include:

o Muesli or Breakfast Bars
o Fruit Bars
o Dried Fruit and Nuts mixtures
o Dried Fruit – dates, apricots, apples, peaches, pears etc
o Dried Fruit salad mixtures
o Nuts
o Cracker biscuits, particularly with added fibre wholegrain, multigrain, reduced fat
o Fresh fruit that requires minimal preparation apples, bananas, grapes and pears are ideal
o Breakfast cereal need not be limited to the morning and is a good snack food
o Yoghurt tubs
o Tinned fruit
o Packet soups
o Jelly set into small plastic cups
o Tinned fish for cracker biscuits or sandwiches

Easy to prepare nutritious snacks include:

o Smoothies – using available fruit and adding yoghurt for extra substance and calcium

o Juices – vegetable and fruit juices, if you have a juicer, although this does take a bit of time, are full of easy  to absorb nutrients          
             – 100% fruit juices with minimal added sugar are also a good idea and many are available in long life packaging

o Muffins (sweet or savoury) from the freezer

o Fruit cakes
– see recipe below for an example of a fruitcake recipe

o Fruit bread

o Savoury bread loaves

o Cheese and crackers

Cooking

There are many high-energy cake and muffin recipes available, for example those full of fruit, which can be prepared easily. Some recipes may be suitable for freezing, so that a quantity could be prepared and then taken out of the freezer individually or as needed.

Cakes and biscuits purchased are often full of sugar, which doesn’t give a lasting energy supply and may not be as nutritious as those you are able to make yourself. If you are not able to spend the time preparing foods yourself though, try to choose those on ‘the healthier side’, to stock up for when you need them.
Some of the packet mixes for cakes and muffins are 97% fat free and healthier than their original versions. These can be prepared, baked, cooled and frozen in serve-sized portions for a quick snack or for when visitors drop by. Lamingtons (minus the cream) are a reasonably healthy option that freeze well and thaw quickly.

One recipe book particularly dedicated to High Energy recipes is Rosemary Stanton’s “High Energy Cookbook”, by Family Circle. It contains a lot of easy to prepare meals and snacks and includes comments and tips throughout.

Mini Fruit Cakes (makes 24)

750g mixed dried fruit 1 x 440g tin crushed pineapple
1 1/2 cups water 1/2 cup caster sugar

Combine mixed fruit, pineapple, water and caster sugar in large saucepan.
Bring to boil stirring constantly. Boil for 3 minutes, remove from heat and cool.

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1 teaspoon bi-carb soda
1 tablespoon mixed spice

Sift into cooled fruit mixture.

1 tablespoon mixed spice
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup fruit juice (100%)

Add eggs and juice. Stir until just combined. Spoon into muffin tins and cook at 160C for 45 minutes. Remove from tins and allow to cool.

Preparing Food for After the Birth

After your baby has been born you have many new things to adjust to due to the demands this brings, there is less time available for preparing meals. If you don’t have other people who can help you out by bringing you meals, or family/friends staying who can cook for you, you may want to be extra organised before the birth by stocking up your freezer with meals. It is easier to reheat a meal than having to prepare it from scratch.

You will need to check on how long different dishes will last in the freezer, but as you cook in the last month or two of your pregnancy, why not make an extra serving or two and freeze them. You may also be able to spend some time cooking extra things, like pasta sauce, lasagnes and casseroles to freeze for after the birth. Even rice can be slightly undercooked and frozen and it will finish cooking when reheated. Soups can also be frozen in serve size portions and transferred to freezer bags once frozen for use at lunch or as a snack.

Make sure that you seal dishes completely before freezing and date them, so that they do not stay in the freezer longer than you intended.

You may find easy to prepare food that can be stocked up in your cupboard or fridge, such as ready made pasta sauces or lasagnes. It will depend on the type of food you like to eat as to how easy it is to do this.

Having packets of frozen vegetables in the freezer will mean easy access to them, in case getting fresh vegetables regularly is not easy. Studies have shown that there is very little nutrient degradation in frozen vegetables when compared to fresh vegetables.

Thinking ahead if you have the opportunity will help you feel and be more prepared for the days and weeks after the birth. You can be creative or you may feel more comfortable using recipes you know well rather than experimenting, as you will probably have all the ingredients that you need already.

As an extra note, often you may have more energy in the morning and find it easier to think about preparing food then. If this is the case, use this time to prepare as much of your evening meal in advance as you are able to. You might even think about getting your lunch ready, particularly after the birth, so that if your baby needs your attention, you are still able to easily get something to eat to keep your energy levels up.

Learn to love your slow cooker or crock pot, particularly in the winter months. By putting a little time aside in the morning to prepare your favourite ‘one pot wonder’, you can have a delicious dinner on the table by the evening.

If you are having a particularly good day, try to make a meal with enough leftovers to freeze for later or to use the following day. Correct storage of leftovers is still important post-natally, although the risk posed by Listeria to your baby is decreased as compared to during pregnancy.

Fluids

Many women, particularly those breastfeeding, can be constipated post-natally and it is often due to inadequate fluid intake. Breastfeeding is a way of losing fluid from the body and it needs to be replaced to maintain the body’s balance. The best fluid to consume is water, although juices and dairy products can provide sources of additional nutrients. A good habit to get into is having a drink each time you feed your baby (whether using bottle feeding or breastfeeding). This may take a bit of time to get used to, as remembering to keep a drink handy may be difficult. Sipper or water bottles and boxed juices are often convenient to use at these times. Filling glasses with water and placing them in the fridge can give you ready access to them during the day, and help remind you to drink the fluid you need.

 

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