No one is currently better qualified to give pregnant women nutrition advice than Sydney dietitian, nutritionist and author Susie Burrell, who’s pregnant with twins.
Safely into her second trimester at 15-weeks-pregnant and expecting her twins early in 2016, Susie, 37, Susie and her radio host fiancee Chris Smith (pictured below) are currently enjoying a holiday in Hawaii while they process their baby news, recently revealed at a scan.
Susie, who specialises in treating people with hormonal disorders and who recently launched her new program, Shape Me, The 30 Day Plan, says twins are a double blessing, but it still came as a shock despite her family history of multiples, thanks to her maternal grandmother.
“My family, including my mum who is a midwife, had joked about it being twins and the thing I said to my sister before my scan was: ‘I’ll be fine as long as there is not 2!’. Then I was in the scan, and Chris was outside, and the lady said: “Hmm you had better get your husband.’ “And since I could still see one heartbeat I just knew! She said: ‘Oh, there’s another in the back, let me make sure there are not three.’ I said: ‘Oh, c’mon!
“Chris’s mouth dropped to the floor and trust me, he is never speechless. I saw my sister straight after she was like: ‘No way?!’ What can you do? You have to laugh at the irony for a control freak like me and the wonders of nature. We think we are in control, but really have no control. And now we realise how lucky we are and are really excited!”
So, how does a top dietitian and nutritionist adjust her own eating habits when pregnant? Here, Susie dispels some popular pregnancy eating myths and answers everything you’ve ever wanted to know and more about eating for two, or three, as in her case.
How has your own nutrition changed with two babies on the way?
I am finding it so interesting after seeing pregnant women for years myself in practice and giving them advice to need to turn it around on myself. I felt quite nauseous in the mornings until about two weeks ago which actually helped me a lot managing my appetite. Instead of feeling hungry all the time, I went off most things, even my coffee, so was eating quite lightly – definitely not anything sweet, which was a nice change, instead anything salty like cheese and Vegemite crackers and salmon sandwiches.
Luckily, that nauseous feeling has now largely gone, but I definitely have far less room for food than before and instead have to eat regularly: oranges, crackers, wraps and then something small at night so I don’t feel sick, like soup, vegetables or seafood. I’m also not feeling like anything heavy and even my chocolate cravings have disappeared! My specialist has told me I can only gain 10-12kg so I am pretty motivated by that because I know if you really control things early it makes it much easier later. Especially for me, as I am only short and probably started the pregnancy 5kg heavier than would have been ideal so I only have a little buffer there.
What are the most common pregnancy food myths?
That you need to eat for two (or three), and eating makes you feel better so you should do more of it. When you feel sick, you will feel sick regardless so it does still help to control the food a little and not let all your control go out the window; that is where we see 20kg plus weight gains which can be really challenging to lose.
What’s the best and healthiest eating habits to adopt when pregnant?
Nutrient-rich foods are best – try not to waste your calories on poor choices such as juices, snack foods, toast and starchy foods will make you feel better temporarily, but pack on the kilos quickly if you get into a habit of eating only these. Pregnant women should also try to find a few foods which are nutrient-rich, but still settle your tummy, for example: soda water, plain crackers and cheese and fresh fruit. Try concentrating on these foods instead of calorie-laden ones.
Will any specific foods help curb pregnancy cravings and mood swings?
Eating regularly is important to keep on top of morning sickness as low-blood glucose can increase nausea. I find herbal tea helps, as does icy, cold water. And if you are craving, watch your portions; there is a big difference between a single ice-cream and a tub of Cookies and Cream. If you get into the habit of overindulging early, it will continue and that is when a 10kg weight gain will become 20kg when you let yourself eat things you never usually would just because your are pregnant.
I ate a LOT of Magnums towards the end of my first pregnancy because I was so anxious. Is emotional eating a big problem for pregnant women?
My observation is that we are more likely to give ourselves permission to eat foods we never usually would because of the pregnancy. Like anything, if you eat it in moderation it is not a big deal. For example: eat one mini Magnum per day compared to the whole box. Keeping busy is a big one. And focusing on your baseline nutrition is another; learning to tame cravings with a small treat rather than a binge is a key strategy.
Do you have any other top nutrition tips for preggos?
Keep a close eye on your weight, this will help you track whether you are overdoing things early. And most importantly, keep active in line with what your specialist recommends. I see so many women who literally stop moving the minute that stick turns pink. Initially, it’s because they are tired and then they never start again. You are tired regardless so at least keep walking! Not only does it help to keep your weight and glucose levels under control, but exercise helps keep the baby and aids birth. You at least want to be walking for 30 minutes a day for as long as you can.
As I have twins, the specialist has told me after 28-30 weeks I have to keep off my feet to try and keep them in there as long as possible, which will be very hard for me because I have always exercised for at least an hour a day. So, my plan is to continue gym until late October and do as much walking as I can and then I will swap to swimming. I will also start Pilates as recommended by my doctor, as already I am getting some aches and pains thanks to sitting down so much and things changing in my body.
Images via healthable.org, dailytelegraph.com.au