Healthy Nutrition during Pregnancy

We are sharing success stories to find out why people decide to see a dietitian, what happens on the journey, what the hardest part of that journey is and what results are achieved. This week we chat to Bonnie Classen, who started seeing Registered Dietitian Alex Royal when she fell pregnant:

Tell us about your journey with the dietician? 

Over the past few years I have strived to lead a healthy lifestyle, with my food choices being based around eating as many real foods as possible, and minimal processed and refined foods. Despite my diet being healthy for the most part, I still  found that I still struggled in a few areas – such as afternoon slumps, sugar cravings, and low energy during certain times of the day.

After falling pregnant, I felt it would be a good idea to visit Alex Royal for a dietetics consultation, to help guide me on the optimum food choices during my pregnancy. As the majority of my food choices were already healthy, I was very curious to see the assessment of my current diet, as I couldn’t imagine what possible improvements could be made.

Wow did I have a lot to learn !!

 While on the whole my food choices had been good, Alex highlighted so many interesting points regarding my current diet. From the excessive amount of fat I was eating each morning (I was shocked to hear how much fat I was consuming with my breakfast each morning, I had no idea), my very low calcium intake, and so much more.

Using my existing food choices and lifestyle – Alex helped adjust my current eating regime. Adjustments were made to my meals. From distributing my fat intake more evenly throughout the day, increasing of calcium, including protein & vegetables during certain times and so much more.

 As Alex worked with my current eating style and diet when making these adjustments, these changes weren’t very challenging to implement into my daily routine, which made them far more manageable to achieve.

What a difference these seemingly simple changes made to my life !

She also helped highlight some really important information to me regarding my dietary needs during pregnancy, such as the importance of calcium intake during pregnancy and the daily recommended dosage, as well as information on all the other essential nutrients required during pregnancy.

During our second consultation Alex also suggested I bring in all my vitamins, and assessed my vitamins dosages, giving fantastic suggestions on inclusions and improvements here too.

 Tell us about your results? 

The results I achieved after implementing the dietary changes were nothing short of fantastic! My afternoon slumps diminished, and I realized that my previous afternoon ‘sugar’ cravings was simply hunger – I was eating lunch far too early in the day and then only eating dinner after 7pm. So without an afternoon snack, was starving by 5pm!

By adjusting my food quantities, including protein into my breakfast each morning, and spreading out my fat intake –  I also felt far more sustained throughout the day.

Alex also gave me tips on how to ‘give in’ to my pregnancy craving, but ensuring that this was done with the right food choices, so that the extra calories I was consuming weren’t empty calories. She took my pregnancy experiences into consideration when creating my customized eating plan. Despite being starving, I was also struggling with severe nausea (a combination I didn’t know was possible prior to pregnancy!) After most meals, I then also suffered from heartburn and indigestion, making eating full-size meals very unpleasant.

One of Alex suggestions was to eat a healthy snack a few hours after dinner, which ensured I still got my extra calories required despite eating a small dinner. By also eating this healthy snack before the hunger & cravings hit, I felt satisfied and managed to avoid the late night “pregnancy” sugar binges I found myself giving into prior to my consultations.

During my consultations Alex tracked my pregnancy weight gain, ensuring this was on track, while still increasing my muscle mass. I have now managed to maintain an extremely healthy weight gain throughout my pregnancy. I have not only loved my pregnancy body, but also feel such a great sense of confidence that I have given my baby the best head start in life, by ensuring she has had the optimal nutrition needed 🙂

 What was the hardest part of the journey? 

The hardest part was to be more disciplined in preparing lunches and snacks for my work day. While packing lunch was easy (as we generally made a generous healthy dinner the night before – and took leftovers to work), I never prepared any snacks for work.

So it took some time to adjust to having to be slightly more disciplined in my preparation each morning, but the results were worth it! By simply taking those 15 minutes each morning to pack for the day, I now am completely able to avoid the 5pm ‘binge’ I found myself falling into each afternoon.  

What are the top 3 tips you can share? 

  • From the 2nd trimester you should increase your daily calorie, but the extra food you eat shouldn’t just be empty calories, as it should provide the nutrients for your growing baby needs. It is also easier than you think to get these extra calories!
  • You can get creative with your eating schedule during pregnancy. As mentioned, I suffered from extreme nausea, heartburn and indigestion when eating full-size meals, often making meals unpleasant. By splitting up your meals and eating smaller meals and snacks at different times within the day, it helped ensure I still consumed the calories and nutritional intake during pregnancy, while avoiding the excessive pregnancy heartburn & indigestion i experienced with larger meals.
  • Be prepared !! When you have a busy work schedule, it is very easy to get caught up in your day and go for long stretches without food, then give in to the ‘convenient’ foods that are in reach (these usually being unprocessed, sugar filled snacks) By simply making time to prepare your lunches & snacks for your day ahead, you can maintain your healthy diet habits and continue to feel sustained throughout the day.

Feedback from the Alex Royal

It was an absolute pleasure to help Bonnie along this path. She made excellent dietary and lifestyle changes which benefited both her and her little one. Her body composition improved during her pregnancy with her body fat decreasing while her muscle mass improved. She managed her cravings and followed the meal plan to the letter, including the nutrients that we needed to focus on to help her baby develop and grow well.  Her motivation and commitment to her health and to her baby’s well being was inspiring.

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