Second trimester nutrition
By now your bump should be quite apparent, the second trimester is about rapid expansion! Your bub’s organs and skeleton is now well developed and there is a shift in focus to increasing size and weight. Hormonal changes in the second trimester can play havoc with blood sugar levels so you need to keep a close eye on what and when you eat to decrease your risk of gestational diabetes. Smaller meals divided regularly throughout the day can help, especially if you are becoming ravenous by the next meal.
Keep things balanced
Make sure that you are having some protein at every meal to keep blood sugar levels stable and that you are not resorting to high-GI foods such as sugary treats and white flour products and, instead, choosing slow release carbohydrates (see “Best Fertility Foods For Conception”). Regular gentle exercise is also essential to help regulate insulin levels. Adequate protein in the diet also helps prevent and minimise the development of stretch marks. You might have a genetic predisposition to developing these, however, ensuring that you have enough protein, healthy fats and zinc-rich foods in your diet should minimise their formation. Foods high in zinc include whole grains, beef, baked beans, pumpkins seeds, cashews and sunflower seeds.
All about iron
In the second trimester, you also need to pay attention to your iron levels as your blood volume starts to climb. Lean red meats provide an easily absorbed form of haem iron; chew thoroughly! Rich plant sources of iron include green leafy vegetables, dried apricots, tomato paste, baked beans, almonds and lentils. The non-haem iron they contain is not so easily absorbed however, this can be remedied by adding a squeeze of lemon juice or consuming other foods high in vitamin C with a meal. Soaking and sprouting nuts, grains and legumes will also increase your absorption of iron. Black tea, coffee and red wine contain polyphenols that decrease the absorption of iron so keeping these away from meals – and preferably not consuming them at all during your pregnancy – is most beneficial for many other reasons also.
Your bub’s bones will also be further developing and hardening. Calcium, magnesium and vitamin D are of great importance here. Calcium is found in yoghurt and milk, tinned salmon and sardines (with the bones mashed in), unhulled tahini, almonds and legumes. Vitamin D is also found in many of the same foods, such as salmon, sardines, eggs and natural butter. Daily controlled exposure to gentle sunlight is also a great source of vitamin D. Magnesium is found in leafy vegetables, wholegrains and nuts. The second trimester is also a key time to assess your intake of healthy fats – especially the omega-3 found in fish as they are essential for the healthy growth and maturation of the brain and eyes in your bub. Choosing fish that is wild-caught, low on the food chain and sourced from relatively unpolluted waters will minimise your exposure to heavy metals and environmental pollutants. Better choices include snapper, whiting, ling, herring, garfish, sardines and wild barramundi and salmon. Contrary to popular belief linseed/flaxseed oil is not a good source of omega-3. Singling out certain nutrients for each trimester highlights the more important ones. However, all nutrients are important at every stage of pregnancy. No one’s diet and lifestyle is perfect. A good-quality pregnancy multivitamin/mineral and fish oil (screened for heavy metals and other pollutants) is a great insurance policy throughout your pregnancy.
Second trimester superfoods
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This article was written by Sarah Coleman for Kidspot.com.au and has been adapted for Kidspot.co.nz