Those early days with a newborn are a whirlwind of sleep deprivation, endless cuddles, and a constant hunger that seems to come from nowhere. But amidst the chaos, taking care of yourself and your growing bub through nutritious food remains paramount.

This is where a well-stocked and organised kitchen cupboard becomes your secret weapon.

Let’s face it, elaborate meals might be a distant memory for a while. But fear not, we have some great tips to reduce your mental (and physical) load in those early weeks and months.

Here’s how to undertake a cupboard makeover that supports good nutrition without demanding hours in the kitchen.

Planning is Key: Assess Your Needs

Before diving into a pantry revamp, take a moment to assess your current situation and needs.

  • Dietary Requirements: Do you have any allergies or follow a specific diet (vegetarian, vegan etc.)?
  • Cooking Time: How much realistic cooking time do you have with a newborn? Be honest!
  • Baby’s Age: As your baby progresses through weaning, their dietary needs will evolve.

The Larder Makeover Essentials:

Now, let’s get organised! Here are the key components for your new mum-friendly larder:

Shelf-Stable Staples:

  • Grains & pasta: Stock up on pasta, wholegrains, quinoa, and low GI brown and white rice as a quick and nutritious base for many meals.
  • Canned goods: Canned chickpeas, lentils, and kidney beans are protein powerhouses, perfect for quick stews and salads. Diced tomatoes, tinned corn, tuna, and salmon are pantry lifesavers for easy meals.
  • Nuts & Seeds: Almonds, cashews, macadamias, walnuts, sunflower, pumpkin and chia seeds add protein, healthy fats, and fibre to smoothies, yoghurt, salads, and even baked goods.
  • Dried fruits: Raisins, cranberries, and chopped dates are natural sweeteners and add a chewy texture to oatmeal, trail mix, or yoghurt parfaits.

Essential Pantry Items:

  • Oils & vinegars: Extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar are all you need for basic dressings, marinades, and finishing touches.
  • Dried herbs & spices: A well-stocked spice rack adds flavour and variety to even the simplest dishes. Start with basics like garlic powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, and chili flakes.
  • Pasta sauces and extras: Opt for reduced-salt versions of pesto, marinara, or Alfredo sauce to turn cooked pasta into a quick meal. Keep some jar pesto, semi-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and pitted olives (black or Kalamata) to stir through pasta for a quick and delicious meal.
  • Soups & broths: Reduced-salt canned soups or broths are a lifesaver for whipping up quick, nourishing meals or adding flavour to dishes.

The Healthy Snack Station:

  • Fresh fruit: Keep a fruit bowl stocked with easy-to-grab options like apples, bananas, oranges, and grapes.
  • Vegetables: Vegetables like baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, capsicum and cucumber slices are perfect for snacking on their own or with hummus. Do a bulk chop a few times a week and keep them in a sealed container in the fridge for a quick grab-and-go.
  • Whole-wheat crackers: Choose reduced-salt crackers for pairing with cheese, hummus, or nut butter.
  • Trail mix: Make your own with rolled oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits for a healthy on-the-go snack. Throw in a handful of choc-buds for that extra yum.

Beyond Basics: Building a Well-Rounded Pantry

The above are just the building blocks. Here’s how to personalise your pantry for even better results:

  • Frozen Favourites: Frozen vegetables are a lifesaver for busy mums (and dads!). They’re pre-washed, chopped, and snap-frozen to retain their nutrients.
  • Breakfast Boosters: Stock up on healthy cereals, whole-wheat bread, nut butter, and yoghurt for quick breakfasts.
  • Homemade Staples: Batch cook and freeze some homemade items like healthy muffin batter, lentil soup, or Bolognese sauce.
  • Treat Yourself: Don’t forget a small stash of healthy treats like dark chocolate or homemade nut bars for those cravings. Remember there are no good or bad foods; however, when you do choose a ‘sometimes’ food take the time to decide what you really want – and savour and enjoy.

Tips for Organisation and Efficiency:

  • Declutter and Deep Clean: Start with a clean slate by removing expired items and anything you no longer use. (“Hello, herbs from the early 2000s!”)
  • Categorise and Label: Group similar items together (grains, canned goods, snacks) and label shelves for easy identification. Utilise clear storage containers to keep things organised.
  • Utilize Vertical Space: Install shelves or utilise shelf risers to maximize storage space.
  • Keep High-Use Items Within Reach: Place frequently used items like snacks, grains, and canned goods at eye level for easy access.
  • Rotate Stock: Implement a “first-in, first-out” system to avoid expired items lurking in the back of the cupboard.

Remember, this is YOUR larder! Tailor it to your family’s preferences, dietary needs, and budget.

NEED MORE HELP?

We offer individual consultations and postnatal cookbooks as we know you all have different learning styles and budgets.

Attending an individual session with a Lifestyle Maternity dietitian will allow you to assess your diet against recommended guidelines and identify changes that can be tailored to your lifestyle and dietary preferences. If you would like further information book an appointment  now.

Our postnatal cookbook has been developed in collaboration with Dietitian Christine Stone (PeNut).This collaboration is for all time-poor, nutrition-conscious, food-loving new mums. When we’ve talked with new mums about what worked for them to feel nourished, health, and strong they’ve told us they’ve needed to adapt routines and habits that used to be their go-to’s for nutrition. This cookbook has been designed to support new mums in meeting these important goals.

 

 

IMAGE CREDIT: Annie Spratt/Unsplash

IMAGE DESCRIPTIONS: first – an open food cupboard with fiver shelves full of jars and bottles with a door that’s hung with a spice rack with 6 shelves in it; second – front cover of PeNut + Lifestyle Maternity cookbook collaboration. Tomato based soup with spinach mixed through in a white bowl with a silver spoon resting in the soup. It is on a grey blue background with next to a white tea towel with a red stripe.

Growing a healthy baby relies on getting the extra nutrients that your baby needs for growth and development.  The food and drink you eat is the main source of nutrients for your growing baby. In pregnancy, there are amounts and types of food that are recommended to eat each day to get all the nutrients you and bub need. However, in many surveys across pregnancy, the large majority are not meeting these recommendations.

What do women eat during pregnancy?

Only 10%–40% of pregnant women meet current recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake.

Less than 1% achieve recommenced breads and cereal intakes and extremely low numbers meet pregnancy Nutrient Reference Values for folate, iodine, calcium, zinc, and fibre from food alone.

Less than half consume the recommended nutrient supplements (iodine, folic acid) pre-pregnancy with minimal change once pregnancy is confirmed.

In a study of over 800 women Australia-wide, it was found that no woman had dietary patterns that aligned with recommendations from the Australian dietary guidelines. However, over 60% believed that they did.

A poor-quality diet in pregnancy has been linked with a higher risk of unhealthy weight gain, high blood pressure and anaemia. It can also contribute to a lower birth weight and increased risk of chronic disease in babies into their adult lives.

How do you measure up?

The Australian dietary guidelines recommend expectant mothers eat two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables every day. Are you getting your ‘2 & 5’ each day? A good way to check how you’re going is by writing out a fruit and vegetable tracker like the one below.

Meal Fruit Vegetables
Breakfast Type:

 

Serves:

Type:

 

Serves:

Morning snack Type:

 

Serves:

Type:

 

Serves:

Lunch Type:

 

Serves:

Type:

 

Serves:

Afternoon snack Type:

 

Serves:

Type:

 

Serves:

Dinner Type:

 

Serves:

Type:

 

Serves:

Supper or dessert Type:

 

Serves:

Type:

 

Serves:

Total serves  

 

 

How might you use the tracker to add more fruit and vegetables to your day?

Work through the tracker thinking of a usual day, or what you ate yesterday, to see how you measure up.

For example, you might have a banana on your cereal (one serve of fruit), some blueberries for dessert (another serve of fruit) and a cheese and salad sandwich for lunch (one to two serves of vegetables depending on how much salad you add). This totals two serves of fruit and one to two serves of vegetables that day.

The tracker will help you see where there are opportunities to add more fruit and vegetables during the day. For example, including them at meals where you haven’t filled in a box or by dishing out larger serves at your meals.

No matter how close (or far!) you are from the recommendations, pregnancy is the perfect time to optimise your eating habits for the health of you and your growing bub.

Need more help?

We offer individual consultations and self-paced online courses as we know you all have different learning styles and budgets. Attending an individual session OR online course with a Lifestyle Maternity dietitian will allow you to assess your diet against recommended guidelines and identify changes that can be tailored to your lifestyle and dietary preferences.

In our self-paced online course you will be encouraged and guided to assess your own health habits against pregnancy recommendations, participate in activities around setting health goals for optimal nutrition and learn how to adapt your routines with confidence to achieve these goals to make them stick. More information here.

An individual consult involves a more thorough assessment of your dietary and lifestyle patterns with a personalised action plan being developed in collaboration with the dietitian. If you would like further information book an appointment  now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMAGE CREDIT: Unsplash Social Cut
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Photo being taken of a colourful salad in a bowl with image viewed through phone screen. Two hands holding phone and watch on left wrist turned up to face the camera.

 

REFERENCES:

Blumfield M, Hure A, Macdonald-Wicks L, Patterson A, Smith R, Collins C. Disparities exist between national food group recommendations and the dietary intakes of women.BMC Womens Health 2011;11:37.

Blumfield M, Hure A, Macdonald-Wicks L, Smith R, Simpson S, Raubenheimer D, et al. The association between the macronutrient content of maternal diet and the adequacy of micronutrients during pregnancy in the women and their children’s health (watch) study.Nutrients. 2012;4:1958–76.

McKenna E, Hure A, Perkins A, Gresham E. Dietary Supplement Use during Preconception: The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health.Nutrients. 2017;9:1119.

Mishra G, Schoenaker D, Mihrshahi S, Dobson A. How do women’s diets compare with the new Australian dietary guidelines?Public Health Nutrition. 2015;18(2):218-25.

Slater K, Rollo M, Szewczyk Z, Ashton L, Schumacher T, Collins C. Do the Dietary Intakes of Pregnant Women Attending Public Hospital Antenatal Clinics Align with Australian Guide to Healthy Eating Recommendations? Nutrients. 2020;12(8):2438.

Wilkinson SA, Schoenaker DAJM, de Jersey S, Collins CE; Gallo L et al. Exploring the diets of mothers and their partners during pregnancy: Findings from the Queensland Family Cohort pilot study. Nutrition & Dietetics. 2022; 79 (5): 602-615.

Grain foods have received a lot of unfavourable attention recently.  Many popular diets label them ‘high carb’ or ‘unhealthy’ and promote removing them from our diet. However, there is very little evidence that going grain-free will be anything but troublesome. In fact, it may even be detrimental to our health. Read on to find out why grains are important, particularly when we are pregnant.

 

What are grain foods?

Food originating from grains include wheat, oats, rice, barley, millet and corn. Grain foods are one of the five main food groups. Foods are grouped together based on the types of nutrients they provide. Eliminating an entire food group can make it very difficult to get all the nutrients we need. For example, two-thirds of our intake of vitamin B1 (Thiamin) comes from this food group!

 

What nutrients do grains provide?

Grain foods are a good source of carbohydrate – the main energy source for our body and particularly our brain. Without sufficient energy we may experience fatigue, difficulty concentrating, mood swings and dizziness (not ideal when we are growing a baby!)  Also, without carbohydrate our body burns fat for energy. This might sound like a good thing but it can result in weight loss and high levels of ketones in the blood. It is unclear whether ketones can affect a growing baby, but some studies seem to suggest they can be harmful.

Grain foods provide fibre. Many pregnant women experience constipation brought on by hormone changes. Eating high fibre carbohydrates can help alleviate this side effect. Wholegrains are the best sources of fibre. Wholegrain foods include multigrain or wholegrain breads and crackers, oats, muesli, quinoa, buckwheat and popcorn (hold the butter). Diets high in wholegrains also tend to have a lower GI which means they get digested more slowly. This helps to keep us feeling full for longer and can sustain our energy levels. It is wise to limit refined or highly processed grains like white bread, sugary breakfast cereals, biscuits and cakes as these contain little fibre and often have lots of added sugar (these are also called ‘ultra-processed foods’).

Grain foods provide lots of different nutrients including vitamins and minerals. Two key nutrients for pregnancy are folate andiodine, of which grain foods are good sources.

Folate or folic acid is a B-vitamin. Sufficient folic acid intake is important to reduce the risk of neural tube defects in a developing baby. For women planning a pregnancy and during the first three months of pregnancy, it is recommended to take a daily folic acid supplement that contains at least 400 micrograms (μg) of folic acid, in addition to eating foods that are rich in folic acid. Foods high in folate or folic acid include cereals, bread, fruits and vegetables.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women have increased iodine requirements. Iodine is important for growth and development, especially of the baby’s brain. As most bread in Australia is made with iodised salt, this is a good reason to keep it in your diet while pregnant. Other food sources of iodine include fish, eggs and dairy foods. Women should still take a supplement containing 150μg of iodine when planning a pregnancy, throughout pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

What are the health benefits of grains?

As well as providing important nutrients, grains are necessary for proper digestion and satisfying hunger and taste.  Wholegrains can also help stabilise blood glucose levels and lower cholesterol. Many studies have shown that adequate wholegrain intake can reduce our risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

How much do I need to eat each day?

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend women who are pregnant eat 8 ½ serves of grains each day.

One serve is equal to:

  • one slice of bread,
  • ½ cup cooked porridge, pasta, rice, quinoa, polenta or barley,
  • 2/3 cup cereal flakes,
  • ¼ cup muesli or
  • 3-4 crispbreads.

Adequate grain intake might look like:

Breakfast                      1 cup porridge (2 serves)

Morning tea                  yoghurt with ¼ cup muesli (1 serve)

Lunch                           wholegrain sandwich or wrap (2 serves)

Afternoon tea               3-4 wholegrain crackers with cheese (1 serve)

Dinner                          1-1.5 cups rice/pasta/quinoa (2-3 serves)

 

Eating moderate amounts of nutritious carbohydrates, rather than eliminating them altogether, will help make sure you and your baby are as healthy as possible.

If you would like help to make sure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals you need during pregnancy, here at Lifestyle Maternity, specialist women’s health dietitians are available to support you. If you would like further information book an appointment with a Lifestyle Maternity Dietitian now.

 

 

IMAGE CREDIT: Aleksandra Tanasiienko/ Unsplash

IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Spiral pasta in a tomato sauce in a white bowl, with a fork resting on the pasta. Cherry tomatoes and garlic bread pieces are around the bowl.

The end of the school holidays are just around the corner and I bet you are thinking about making school lunches again…

 

 

What can I put my child’s school lunch in?

Have plenty of small plastic containers, including a sandwich box, that can be reused and then you are doing your bit for the environment.   A Cooler bag with an ice pack is ideal to be able to keep lunches fresh especially with our hot Queensland summers!  Buy a big drink bottle so your child has no excuse not to drink water.

Fuel for school needs to include:

  • Dairy products (they contain calcium for healthy bones),
  • Meats (for iron, helping concentration),
  • Fruit and vegetables (for a healthy mind and body), and
  • Wholegrain breads (for long lasting energy).

These foods will give your child sustained energy that they need to be able to concentrate at school.  If our children do not eat this variety with their school lunch then it can be difficult to fit it in at other meals.

Which foods make good snacks for kid’s lunchboxes?

  • Frozen low fat yoghurt tub or tube
  • Frozen low fat milk popper
  • Vegie sticks with hummus or avocado dip
  • Fruit, fresh or snack packs
  • Dry cereal pieces
  • Fruit loaf
  • Homemade pikelets, savoury scones
  • Crackers with peanut butter
  • Mix nuts, seeds and dried fruit

Sandwiches get boring, what else is there for lunch?

  • Mini pizza
  • Pasta salad with pesto
  • Wrap with baked beans and grated cheese
  • Pita bread with chicken and coleslaw
  • Finger food lunch – mini quiche with vegie sticks, cheese with crackers and salad
  • Corn/tuna fritters

What about drinks?

Juices, soft drinks and cordial contain sugars and acids that cause tooth decay and provide empty, unnecessary calories.  Tap water is cheaper, has fluoride for the teeth and is better for the environment than purchased bottled water.

When can my child pack their own lunch?

Get your child to assist with packing their lunch to start off with as children don’t always know what food is best for them.  This gives you the opportunity to guide them on how to include variety and appropriate foods and snacks.

 

 

**Please check the lunch policy at your school before packing lunch i.e. nut free, no packaged foods**

 

 

IMAGE CREDIT: Inna Gurina/ Unsplash
IMAGE DECSRIPTION: Mini pizza with basil, tomato and cheese topping

Sometimes it can feel like the list of foods to avoid in pregnancy is longer that what you are allowed to eat. Due to changes in a woman’s immune system during pregnancy, you are more susceptible to food poisoning. This is from the usual culprits – Salmonella, E.coli and Campylobacter – but also one you hear a lot about in pregnancy, Listeria. 

What is Listeria? 

During pregnancy women are more susceptible to getting Listeriosis by eating foods containing the bacteria Listeria which can cross the placenta. Symptoms may include fever, headache, tiredness, aches, pains, diarrhoea and/or nausea. It’s important to note that while symptoms may be mild in pregnant women, it can result in miscarriage, premature birth or, in rare cases, stillbirth.  

What does this mean for me now that I’m pregnant? 

This means extra care is needed for food storage, preparation and, of course, selection. To help reduce the risk of getting Listeriosis, here are the key things to remember: 

  • Practice good food hygiene by washing fresh fruit and vegetables before you eat them 
  • Refrigerate leftovers and consume within 24hours, reheating to a visibly steaming temperature 
  • Avoid buffet meals or ready-to-eat sandwich and salad bars
  • Avoid raw or cold seafood 
  • Consume only dairy products that have been pasteurised 
  • Avoid soft serve ice-cream or milkshakes/thick shakes with soft-serve as an ingredient 
  • Ask for all meats to be well-cooked 
  • Deli meats, including pre-packaged or freshly sliced off the bone, soft cheeses and pate should be avoided 
  • Ensure eggs are cooked through, no runny yolks! 
  • All sushi varieties should be avoided 
  • Actively discuss menu options with restaurants and cafes to make sure your meals are freshly prepared 

However, if you avoid all foods that carry a risk for harbouring listeria, it is likely that you will consume fewer nutrients. This is not ideal as you ARE growing a baby. 

 

You don’t have to go without! For every item on the “no” list, there are a number of alternative and this table will help to make those choices (source). 

Foods to avoid 

Safe alternatives to enjoy 

  • Deli meats  
  • Pre-sliced and pre-packaged meats 
  • Cold ready to eat chicken 
  • Meats cooked at home  
  • Tinned fish (two to three times per week) 
  • BBQ chickens, if eaten immediately when hot 
  • Chilled or raw seafood  
  • Sashimi or sushi 
  • Smoked salmon (or other smoked fish varieties) 
  • Oysters 
  • Pre-cooked shellfish including prawns and crabs 
  • Tinned fish including salmon and tuna (two to three times per week) 
  • Freshly cooked seafood, including shellfish, eaten hot 
  • Pre-packaged or pre-cut fruit, vegetables and salads 
  • Salad and sandwich bars 
  • Buffets  
  • Homemade salads with freshly washed ingredients 
  • Freshly cut and washed fruit 
  • Canned or frozen fruit and vegetables 
  • Soft cheese including brie, camembert, ricotta, feta and blue cheese 
  • Pate or meat spreads 
  • Hard cheeses such as cheddar 
  • Processed cheese 
  • Cream cheese spreads 
  • Plain cottage cheese 
  • Soft cheeses that are cooked and eaten when hot 

 

Pregnancy is the perfect time to optimise your eating habits for the health of you and your growing bub.  

For advice on how to tailor the recommendations to your lifestyle, make an appointment with Lifestyle Maternity to simplify your pregnancy journey by tailoring nutrition advice to your preferences and lifestyle. 

 

IMAGE CREDIT: Klara Avsenik Unsplash 

IMAGE DESCRIPTION: Sushi rolls on a platter with chopsticks resting to the left hand side 

With the pandemic turning our working and eating routines on their heads it’s no surprise some of us fall into a meal-time rut.

Eating regularly and not skipping meals is important for many reasons. Regular meals help punctuate the day, especially if you are unable to get out of the house often. As well as the usual reasons we hear (keep healthy, fight off sickness, keep energy levels up, keeps our minds working, boost our mood), it also gives us more opportunities to nourish our body.

High quality, regular meals help keep us at our peak on our maternity journey, whether optimising nutrition for fertility, when you are growing your baby or juggling the demands of a new baby in your life.

There’s a reason that “enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups every day” is one of the Australian Dietary Guidelines. Eating a variety of foods from the 5 major food groups provides a range of nutrients to the body, as well as keeping your diet interesting with different flavours and textures. Because different foods provide different types and amounts of key nutrients, it is important to choose a variety of foods from within each food group. As a bonus, choosing a variety of foods will help to make your meals interesting, so that you don’t get bored.

Need some lunch idea inspiration? Reward your palate and boost your energy levels by choosing from these 7 alternatives to sandwiches. Lifestyle Maternity’s Principal Dietitian, Dr Shelley Wilkinson, shares some healthy lunch ideas in this article.