Pregnancy is a time when nutritional needs are higher

By: Omy Naidoo, Registered Dietician and founder
Newtricion Wellness Dieticians

Good nutrition during pregnancy is vital not only for a good healthy baby but also to ensure the good health of the mom.  The old saying of ‘eating for two’ is not actually accurate as your calorie requirement only increases by a small amount (approximately 300kcal = half a cup of cereal, with milk and a banana).

One needs to be mindful of overeating as this can be harmful to both mom and baby. There seems to be a growing rate of gestational diabetes, which is diabetes that presents during pregnancy and this thought to be affected by unhealthy eating prior to and during pregnancy.

A study conducted during 2019 in KZN showed that pregnant women consumed less than 50 % of all the required nutrients, and also consumed nearly half of the recommended amount of Fruits and Vegetables on a daily basis. An alarming statistic was that 1 in 2 pregnant women was classified as obese (BMI > 30), which places the pregnancy at an increased risk for complications.

What you eat during pregnancy is crucial for a healthy baby, and research shows healthy eating during pregnancy can even result in the baby having fewer chronic conditions later on in adulthood.

Nutritional Basics of pregnancy

  • Consume a variety of foods so as to ensure you consume a variety of vitamins and minerals

  • Have a balanced plate, simplistically half your plate should be vegetables, with ¼ for good quality carbohydrates (Bread, Rice, Potatoe, Pasta) and ¼ for protein such chicken, meat, fish, beans, peas, lentils)

  • Ensure you adhere to good hygiene/food safety practices when cooking, as well as ensuring foods such as meat, chicken and fish are cooked fully to avoid food poisoning

Be mindful of your beverages

  • Water would be the best option.

  • Coffee can be consumed around 1 cup (300ml) per day, whilst

  • Green and black teas may need to be limited as they can affect the absorption of certain vitamins such as folic acid.

  • The better option would be Rooibos.

  • Alcohol should also be avoided as it complicates the brain development of the fetus.

  • Choose healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds, as well as vegetable oils such as canola and olive oil

  •  A high fiber diet is highly recommended, these include whole grains (brown bread, Rice, Pasta), beans, peas, lentils, and fresh fruit and vegetables.

Nutrients specifically needed for pregnancy:

  • Folic acid: This vitamin has been found to prevent birth defects that affect the spinal cord. Good sources of folic acid include: green leafy vegetables, legumes, citrus fruits, fortified cereals, and grains

  • Iron: Iron Deficiency (anemia) is very common during pregnancy. Iron is important for ensuring oxygen transportation through the body and to the fetus. Good sources include meat, chicken, fish, fortified cereals, green leafy vegetables.  Iron absorption from food can be increased by combining it with a food rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruit, strawberries, or tomatoes.

  • Calcium: is essential for the strong bones and teeth development of the fetus. Good sources include dairy products, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, salmon, and sardines

Chat to a dietician to determine if you would need supplementation of any of the vitamins or minerals during pregnancy.

All articles written by this CONTRIBUTOR are solely their opinion and do not represent the views of After12 Magazine. Should you have any queries or concerns, please don't hesitate to email them to

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