• Dr Peter Chew

Diet and baby planning

MR FOR Wei Chek, a nutrition and dietetics services manager at Mount Alvernia Hospital, offers some tips on picking healthier options while grocery shopping:

1. Look out for the Health Promotion Board’s Healthier Choice symbol, which indicates that the product has lower fat, saturated fat, sodium and sugar, and contains higher dietary fibre, calcium and whole grains, when compared to other products in the same category. 2.Wholemeal bread is particularly good for glucose-intolerant mums-to-be as it is high in fibre, which slows down glucose absorption. Those who dislike wholemeal bread can choose high-fibre white bread instead, which means that it contains more than 6g of dietary fibre per 100g 3.Pick low-fat or non-fat yoghurt for a snack, instead of a yoghurt drink as the latter contains higher amounts of sugar and lower calcium. 4.“No sugar added” claims on fruit juices do not mean that the products are free of sugar—they can still contain fructose, which is the sugar from the fruit they were made from. The best juice is made at home from fresh fruit, using a blender instead of a juicer, so that the pulp is retained. 5.Choose brown rice as it contains more fibre and nutrients like vitamin B. Mix brown rice into white rice in increasing ratios, if you are not used to taste and texture of brown rice. 6.Biscuits that are high in fibre could also be high in fat, so choose one that is high-fibre, low-fat and low-salt.

Planning to become a mum? Watch your diet by Rachel ChanWorking women who plan to start a family should pay more attention to their nutritional intake, since most of them eat out during the weekA woman who eats well is less likely to have morning sickness, said Dr. Peter Chew, senior consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Gleneagles Hospital.Good eating habits are all the more crucial for Singaporean women, considering that many do not go for health checks before trying for a baby, said Dr. Chew. In his survey of about 300 women in June last year, nine in 10 did not go for preconception health checks.Such a check would pick up on risk factors and nutritional deficiencies that could adversely affect a child in-utero.


Said Dr.Chew: While Singaporeans are not refugees, I see a lot of expectant women who were not conscious of their nutritional intake until they found out, they were pregnant.“It is important to start eating well before pregnancy to minimize the possibilities of  a miscarriage or stillbirth”This is because a foetus’ vital organs are formed during the first eight weeks of pregnancy, which is usually before the mother realizes that she is pregnancy, Dr.Chew explained. Poor nutrition can result in changes to foetal genetic material, which can lead to the development of chronic diseases, he added.For those who constantly eat out, their doctors might recommend a health supplement to ensure adequate intake of folic acid, choline, iron, calcium and DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid.


Mr. For Wei Chek, a nutrition and dietetics services manager at Mount Alvernia Hospital, pointed out that an expectant woman’s diet prepared not only for the physical demands of delivery, but also the successful production of breaks milk for her newborn baby.Those planning for a baby should increase their intake of folic acid and eat more fruit, vegetables and fortified cereal three months before they try to conceive.

“It is important to start eating well before pregnancy to minimize the possibility of a miscarriage or stillbirth” DR PETER CHEW, SENIOR CONSULTANT OBSTETRICIAN AND GYNAECOLOGIST AT GLENEAGLES HOSPITAL

Such healthy eating habits should also continue post-delivery, to provide for the mother’s nutritional needs as well as that of the baby’s Mr For added. But he stressed that expectant women should not eat for two- they should take in only an extra 200 to 300 kilocalories per day, while lactating mums need only an extra 500 kilocalories a day.Pregnant and lactating women need more protein. The former needs an extra 9g, about a serving of meat approximately half the size of one’s palm.


Breastfeeding mums need an extra 25g of protein a day for the first six months, said Mr For.To ensure a healthy weight gain, they should eat more nutrient-dense foods instead of calorie-dense foods. Red bean soup  is an example of nutrient-dense food, while ice kacangis a calorie dense food as it is laden with sugar.Other better food choices include a chick or egg sandwich, rather than roti prata. Fresh fruit juice and low-fat milk are also better than soft drinks and coffee. Both pregnant and lactating women should also consume a serving of dairy product daily, said Mr For.This can be fresh low fat milk, UHT milk or powdered milk.rachchan@sph.com.sg



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