Beat the bloat, mama.
The one thing that you can be sure to count on when pregnant is swelling and feeling bloated – and Hong Kong’s humid climate does not help! I remember being nine months pregnant in the heat of the tropical summer, admiring the svelte limbs of the Harvey Nic’s mannequins wondering if I’d ever see my ankle bones again! If you’re in the same boat, try these five simple whole food resolutions that can help you beat the bloat, all with ingredients that are easy to find in Hong Kong.
Eat Protein With Every Meal
One of the main reasons for water retention and pregnancy swelling is a lack of protein in the diet. When you’re pregnant, your body requires a lot of protein for its normal metabolic processes, as well as the creation of new baby cells, blood cells and uterine cells. Plus, our liver converts nutrients from protein into albumin, which in turn prevents fluid from leaking out of the blood vessels into surrounding tissues. So, it’s super important to get sufficient protein for all our pregnant body requirements at every meal of the day.
Sassy Mama tip: Starting the day with some eggs for breakfast, instead of just toast or oatmeal is a great idea! For lunch, a leftover roast chicken salad, with chickpeas and some green will fill you up. For a snack, try having a protein smoothie. And for dinner, how about a lovely piece of roast salmon to boost both your protein and healthy fats intake.
Opt For Pink Himalayan Salt
According to the book “What Every Pregnant Woman Should Know” by Dr. Tom Brewer, it’s important to get enough salt when pregnant. During pregnancy, the foetus has first dibs on all nutrients including salt. That means that pregnant women may actually need to consume a bit more salt to maintain the right levels of sodium and fluid in their blood. Note: this is NOT a permission slip to have a pack of crisps every day!
It just means we have to be smart about our consumption. Because you deserve the best, why not treat your body to nature’s own pink Himalayan salt. Commercial table salt is bleached, cleaned with chemicals and completely stripped of many of the minerals that facilitate fluid regulation in the body. And don’t be fooled by the added iodine, which is largely synthetic and not well absorbed by the body. Meanwhile, Pink Himalayan salt contains the same 84 trace minerals and elements that are found in the human body – including calcium, potassium, and magnesium. An adequate intake of these minerals is crucial for regulating water retention. Plus, a little goes a long way to add flavour to your home cooking!
Avocado Mash Anyone?
Adequate levels of potassium are crucial towards reducing bloating and swelling when pregnant. Bananas have traditionally been the go-to fruit for this key mineral. But did you know that sweet potatoes and avocados have even more potassium than bananas? These superfoods not only give you the potassium you need but also the magnesium. And together, these minerals help prevent swelling, as well as the other much-vilified pregnancy pain: leg cramps. So, how about including some baked sweet potatoes wedges with avo mash for one of your meals.
Swap The Coffee For A Ginger Tea
Now you might be thinking, “But coffee is a diuretic. Surely that’ll help my body get rid of excess water”. Well, unfortunately, coffee does just the opposite. It depletes your body of the much-needed minerals (such as potassium and magnesium) that it requires to manage your bodily fluids. But a beautiful, fragrant ginger tea is just the ticket for reducing pregnancy swelling, boosting circulation and even improving digestion. And thankfully, we can always find fresh ginger in Hong Kong.
Whole Food Sweeteners Instead Of Refined Sugar
There are much tastier ways to get your healthy sugar fixes these days rather than refined sugar. Like dates! This amazing dried fruit is packed full of B-vitamins for energy creation, fibre for keeping regular and iron for your increased pregnancy needs. Moreover, dates are chock full of magnesium, calcium and potassium – the magic minerals for regulating fluid retention and reducing pregnancy swelling.
Soaking your dates for a few hours make them moist and perfect for use in creating caramel-flavoured sweet puddings. You can even blend them with apple sauce to sweeten your muffins or baked goods. Dates are massively more nutrient-rich than refined sugar, which is just going to bloat you and deplete your body of Vitamin D3, magnesium and Vitamin C – all crucial for a healthy pregnancy.
- 3 round slices of baked sweet potato
- 1 egg
- ½ avocado
- 3 cherry tomatoes (cut in half), a handful of baby spinach (washed)
- 1 tbsp of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil (“EVOO”)
- Pinch of pink Himalayan salt
I’ve been getting in the habit of baking 1 to 2 sweet potatoes in the evening with my dinner so that they’re ready to go in the morning. Then in the morning, I take the sweet potato and cut 3 to 4 round slices (about 1cm thick) and stick them in the toaster oven on for a few minutes until they’re warmed through.
Meanwhile, I scramble my egg, slice up the avocado and wash and dry my other veggies.
When the sweet potato is toasted, I take them out and place them on my plate. Place some spinach leaves on them, some avo slices and my tomato halves. Put your scrambled egg on the side. Sprinkle a pinch of Himalayan salt over the eggs and veggie toasties, and drizzle a bit of EVOO over the sweet potato-avo toasties. Enjoy!
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2017 by Cristina Tahoces and updated in May 2020 by Alex Purcell Garcia.