With so many myths and confusion around what you "can and can't" eat and drink in pregnancy, I turned to dietician Adele Hug to cut the crap and tell it like it is in Your No Guilt Pregnancy Plan. In this interview she talks about her approach to diet, her own long and difficult journey to pregnancy and shares some easy recipes full of stuff to help pregnant women feel as strong and well as they can.
- How did you become a dietician? And what do you love about it?
I started training as a dietitian in 2007. I was working in hospital pharmacy as a Pharmacy Technician since 2001, moved to the UK in 2002 from Australia to travel and work whilst looking for my vocation when a friend suggested I studied dietetics as I “never shut up about food!” I love the variety and I love talking to people. I get to spend all day talking about food! What’s not the love! I also love presenting and facilitating courses with clients and other health care professionals
2. What's the most common diet myth you hear?
There are so many diet myths, and they seem to be coming out continuously. I’ve seen these messages cause harm to my not only my clients and patients, but my own family and friends. I love that my job enables me to talk through the evidence and have discussions with people on these. People have strong food beliefs, and it’s important I respect these whilst making sure people aren’t harming themselves or their families.
I hear a lot about the evils of single nutrients – like “sugar” or “fat. It’s not that simple and demonising single nutrients isn’t helpful. Overall diet intake and lifestyle are what really matter, not singling out a component of the diet as the cause or cure for all sorts of health (and non-health issues!)
I hear a lot about special fertility diets, or using food to cure endometriosis. The same advice that I’ve given you for your book rings true – a balanced, varied diet is important and supports your body through what can be stressful times but they aren’t a cure. And I feel those that tout these cure-all options are irresponsible and down-right harmful. They promote fear about food and guilty feelings, which has no place in eating!
3. And your most important piece of reassurance?
Your body is amazing. It knows what to do, learn to listen to it and work with it, rather than worrying about it. Learn what foods you like (and what you don’t!). Eat what you feel comfortable with. Learn to know when you need some rest and get some help when you need it.
4. Tell us, about your own journey to pregnancy?
I'm pregnant at the moment - due at the end of August. It’s been a 5 year journey until now with and my final surgery was completed in Feb 2017. We then had to wait for an IVF referral as the copper coil that was working as scaffolding in my new shaped uterus was classed as contraception. Our referral went in August 2017 with only one cycle funded in our area. This needed to have started by my 35th birthday in January. We had our appointments in November and we discovered I also have low egg reserves and sub-optimal ovulation. So I started on maximum strength short-cycle stimulation the end of that month.
We are very lucky that our first cycle worked. For anyone who is having or has had IVF know it is a very stressful time filled with hopes and fears. My husband struggled to watch and wait, as we both did so patiently for so long.
My hospital team has been very supportive as they can see how anxious I have been.
5. And how are you feeling now that you are in the second trimester?
I am still awaiting the “energy surge” that I have been promised! I have been lucky again, no morning sickness - although I’m sure you can understand that I thought morning sickness might have helped me feel more secure in the early stages of pregnancy, that everything was moving forward.
Whilst I didn’t have morning sickness, the extreme fatigue really knocked me. My body craved energy dense foods like fish and chips and I struggled to cook. Whilst my husband was an angel, I usually write the weekly list and he trots off to do the shopping. I couldn’t even do this!
Whilst the change was difficult for us to deal with, we went with it. I trust my body to know what it’s doing. My body changed and grew early on due to this. But as the fatigue has improved I’m back to eating almost normally and now only my bump is growing. Weight and body changes happen differently to every woman during their pregnancy.
6. Can you introduce your recipes. Why do you like them?
Because they are easy! Plus they are yummyand quick to make and full of good stuff – all the antioxidants and phytochemical in the different coloured vegetables, lots of fibres, good fats and protein. Of course they can be made vegetarian using veggie parmesan, meat alternatives and beans, pulses and more lentils!
Need to add some meals to yours or your partner’s repertoire to try and shoe-horn more nutrition into your day? Here are three simple suggestions from Adele that shouldn’t break the bank.
Whiz up a random combination of five ingredients below (heaviest on the green stuff) in a food processor or with a hand blender. If it doesn’t taste quite right, play with the quantities a bit. It’s a great way of using up tired greens and can be added to pasta, potatoes, rice, salads, squashes or meat. You can save leftovers in the fridge for another day. Put them in a jar with a lid and add a layer of olive oil on top to act as a barrier.
- Greens: any herbs or combination of herbs, spinach, kale, carrot tops, rocket, leafy greens
- Cheese: ideally parmesan or vegetarian alternative, pecorino (though I have use cheddar in an emergency)
- Nuts and seeds: pine nuts for classic pesto taste, almonds, cashews, any edible seeds
- Juice of a lime or lemon.
- Olive oil: extra virgin if you can
- Optional: fresh or dried chilli, squirt or two of sweet chilli sauce, fresh or sun-dried tomatoes
Salmon and curried lentils
- Take a salmon fillet (other fish fillets work too). Spray or glug olive or rapeseed oil into a hot pan and fry on four sides for two minutes, then shove it in the oven to bake until cooked through.
- Serve with anything you like but Adele’s favourite is pre-cooked puy lentils served with garlic, chili, red onion (all chopped finely) a little chicken stock or water, coriander, ½ tsp cumin or curry powder and natural yoghurt.
- Or new potatoes and courgette with pesto
Singapore Noodles (serves 2)
This is a particularly good way of using up leftover roast chicken. If you are cooking fresh chicken you’ll need to allow longer to ensure it’s cooked through. will need to go in earlier)
- Handful of peanuts or cashews
- 150g 5% fat minced pork (freeze the rest)
- Tsp of curry powder and a tsp of Chinese five spice
- As much garlic and ginger as you like and red chilli
- Mushrooms and a cup of frozen peas or soya beans
- ½ cabbage (whatever colour you like)
- Two eggs
- Noodles or rice (whatever type you like and cook them according to the packet)
- Soy sauce
- Lime juice
- Spring onions
- Bash a handful of peanuts or cashews with a rolling pin (or anything you have to hand!)
- Dry fry them (ideally in a wok) until browned, then take them out of the pan and leave on the side.
- Fry the pork in the pan with curry powder and five spice until browned.
- Stir in garlic, ginger (to taste), one red chilli, your leftover chicken and cook for one minute
- Then add whatever vegetables you have (half a cabbage, mushrooms, peas or soya beans (frozen is fine) work well) and cook for five minutes.
- Push the contents of the pan to the sides and crack in two eggs. You may need to add a little more oil first. Add cooked noodles or rice and mix through.
- Finish with a squirt of soy sauce and lime juice and sprinkle with spring onions.