How your pregnancy diet can affect baby’s future health

Pregnancy nutrition expert Dr Rana Conway offers food for thought on how to put your baby on the path to good health

Research has shown that the first 1,000 days of life, from conception to a child’s second birthday, are the most significant for health and development. A mum-to-be who eats a healthy, varied diet can have a positive impact on the lifelong health and eating habits of her child.

For the first two trimesters, a healthy, balanced diet of fruit and vegetables, protein-rich foods, dairy foods and unrefined carbohydrates, such as whole grains, will provide all the nutrients your baby needs.

A baby’s first food is the amniotic fluid in the womb. Research shows the foods you eat as a mum-to-be will change its flavour, so your unborn child experiences these tastes. There also appears to be a link between the foods mums eat frequently during pregnancy and the foods that their children grow up to enjoy. Babies remember the flavours that they first tasted in the womb.

To help mums-to-be eat as well as possible and avoid the junk during their pregnancy, baby food brand Organix has teamed up with with Dr Rana Conway, a registered nutritionist and a leading expert in pregnancy nutrition, to create the Organix Little Book of Good Food – Bump to Baby. The handy book is packed with simple, practical advice, as well as delicious and healthy recipes, covering each trimester and once baby is born, so mums can do the best for their babies while enjoying their food.

Dr Rana Conway says: “Everyone seems to have a different view of food during pregnancy. The advice and information is constantly being updated, so it can be a worry wondering if you’re doing what’s right. And, while it’s important to eat a varied, healthy diet, it’s not always easy to do so.”

As well as helping women to make good food choices, the book also helps them to avoid the many pitfalls of pregnancy eating. For example, mums-to-be often develop a sweet tooth or crave salty snacks, but there is no evidence your body needs what you crave. Dr Rana says, “The problem with eating junk food is that you end up eating less of the good stuff. Plus, when mums-to-be eat a high glycaemic index (GI) diet – and most junk foods are high GI foods – babies are exposed to slightly higher levels of glucose.” Good glucose levels increase the chances of a healthy baby.

By eating well during pregnancy you will be doing the best for your baby, so they can grow to love good food even before they’re born.

Your trimester timeline…

Eating at least a small breakfast can help relieve the symptoms of morning sickness, and breakfast eaters are more likely to get all the nutrients they need than those who skip it. If you don’t have breakfast, the tendency can be to reach for unhealthy snacks that are high in sugar and fat, and low in essential vitamins and minerals.

In the second trimester the morning sickness can ease off. You might find you have more energy, so it’s a good time to think about what you are eating. You have six months to give your bump lots of good nutrients, and what you eat between now and the birth will have a big effect on your child’s future health.

It’s not about eating for two. In fact it’s only in the last trimester that you need an extra 200kcal a day as your baby’s weight increases to get ready for birth. You won’t need more than this because your body adapts to help you get the extra nutrients you need. Opt for low GI snacks that will help keep you feeling fuller for longer, like a slice of granary toast with mashed avocado, black pepper and lemon juice, or a handful of nuts.

Try Dr Rana’s six junk food swaps to help keep cravings under control while still staying healthy:

SWAP WITH: strawberries dipped in a good-quality dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa solids.

Ice cream
SWAP WITH: sliced banana with natural yogurt, a swirl of honey and some flaked almonds.

SWAP WITH: plain or lightly salted popcorn.

SWAP WITH: a toasted wholemeal bagel with mashed banana and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Fizzy drinks
SWAP WITH: Pure fruit juice mixed with sparkling water.

Chewy sweets
SWAP WITH: a small handful of dried apricots or raisins.

Find out more from Organix’s Little Book of Good Food – Bump to Baby at