3 things you need to know about carbs during pregnancy
When you’re eating for two, there’s no more important time to get your diet right.
Hannah May Brown, an accredited practising dietitian and PhD candidate at the University of Newcastle, shares what we all need to know about eating carbohydrates while pregnant.
1. Carbs should not be avoided during pregnancy
First and foremost - carbs are important and supply energy for your growing baby, so don’t avoid them during pregnancy!
Carbohydrates are an important component of foods that make up healthy eating habits for pregnant women. They provide the body and brain with energy that enables them to work effectively. Many high-carb healthy foods, such as bread, are a great source of other important nutrients for pregnant women, such as fibre, iodine and folate.
2. Carbs aren’t just found in bread and pasta
Carbohydrates are found in a wide range of foods and beverages and are not only found in the grain and cereal food group. Foods such as milk and yoghurt, fruit, starchy vegetables, beans and legumes contain healthy carbs. These foods, which are nutrient-rich and great for health are called ‘high-quality’ carbs.
Of course there are some foods and beverages that contain carbohydrates that are not so good for us. These foods are usually highly processed and are often high in energy (or kilojoules) and low in nutritional value. These ‘low-quality’ carbs include biscuits, cakes, lollies, chocolate and soft drink.
The recommendation is that you choose mostly high-quality carbohydrate-containing foods such as wholegrain bread, rolled oats, yoghurt and vegetables and fruit, and keep the low-quality carb foods to a minimum.
3. The amount of carbs you eat during pregnancy is important
It’s important to consider the TYPE of carb-containing food you eat. But it is just as important to consider how MUCH of that food or beverage you eat or drink. This is because when you eat carbohydrate-containing food, it is digested and broken down into glucose, which is then absorbed into your bloodstream. This in turn causes your blood glucose (or blood sugar) levels rise.
Moderating your carb intake and spreading it out over the day helps moderate blood glucose levels during pregnancy.
Excessively high blood sugar levels in pregnancy can be a sign of gestational diabetes, which can have negative consequences for both you and your baby.
Research has found these negative consequences include premature delivery, a large birth-weight baby and a higher risk of some birth complications.
Because of this, it is important to be aware of your carbohydrate food portion sizes in pregnancy.
But how do you find out how much you should be eating?
The Australian Dietary Guidelines have created recommendations for the average daily number of standard serves for pregnant women from each of the five food groups.
A standard serve is a specific amount of food e.g. ½ cup of pasta is one standard serve from the grains and cereal food group - but this doesn’t mean you can only eat ½ cup of pasta though!
The guidelines currently recommend up to 8 ½ standard serves from the grain and cereal group per day for pregnant women. Keep in mind, that this is just a guide and assumes the rest of your food intake is predominantly from the basic food groups.
If you need help to improve your eating habits in pregnancy, Accredited Practising Dietitians can help to personalise your dietary requirements. So if you’re pregnant, make sure you’re including carbs each day, but pick the high-quality varieties. Pasta is not the enemy! Just keep an eye on your portion sizes.
This article has been republished with permission from Kidspot