A healthy diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle at any time, but is especially vital if you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy. Eating healthily during pregnancy will help your baby to develop and grow.
You don’t need to go on a special diet, but it’s important to eat a variety of different foods every day to get the right balance of nutrients that you and your baby need.
It’s best to get vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat, but when you’re pregnant you need to take some supplements as well, to make sure you get everything you need.
You will probably find that you are hungrier than usual, but you don’t need to “eat for two” – even if you are expecting twins or triplets.
Have a healthy breakfast every day, because this can help you to avoid snacking on foods that are high in fat and sugar.
Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables because these provide vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre, which helps digestion and can help prevent constipation.
Starchy foods (carbohydrates) in pregnancy
Starchy foods are an important source of energy, vitamins and fibre, and are satisfying without containing too many calories. They include bread, potatoes, breakfast cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, maize, millet, oats, sweet potatoes, yams and cornmeal.
These foods should make up just over a third of the food you eat. Choose wholegrain instead of processed (white) varieties, or potatoes with their skins on, when you can as they contain more fibre.
Protein in pregnancy
Eat some protein foods every day. Sources of protein include:
meat (but avoid liver)
Choose lean meat, remove the skin from poultry, and try not to add extra fat or oil when cooking meat.
Make sure eggs, poultry, burgers, sausages and whole cuts of meat such as lamb, beef and pork are cooked all the way through. Check that there is no pink meat, and that juices have no pink or red in them
Dairy in pregnancy
Dairy foods such as milk, cheese, fromage frais and yoghurt are important in pregnancy, because they contain calcium and other nutrients that your baby needs.
Choose low-fat varieties wherever possible, such as semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, low-fat lower-sugar yoghurt and reduced-fat hard cheese. Aim for two to three portions a day.
If you prefer dairy alternatives, such as soya drinks and yoghurts, go for unsweetened, calcium-fortified versions.
Foods that are high in fat, sugar or both
all spreading fats (such as butter)
If you’re having foods and drinks that are high in fat and sugar, have these less often and in small amounts.
Sugary foods and drinks are often high in calories which can contribute to weight gain. Having sugary foods and drinks can also lead to tooth decay.
Fat is very high in calories, so eating too many fatty foods or eating them too often can make you put on weight. Having too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood which increases the chance of developing heart disease. Try to cut down on saturated fat,and have small amounts of foods rich in unsaturated fat instead.
Healthy snacks in pregnancy
If you get hungry between meals, try not to eat snacks that are high in fat and/or sugar, such as sweets, biscuits, crisps or chocolate. Instead, choose something healthier, such as:
sandwiches or pitta bread filled with grated cheese, lean ham, mashed tuna, salmon, or sardines, with salad
salad vegetables, such as carrot, celery or cucumber
low-fat lower-sugar plain yoghurt or fromage frais with fruit
hummus with wholemeal pitta bread or vegetable sticks
ready-to-eat apricots, figs or prunes
vegetable and bean soups
unsweetened breakfast cereals, or porridge, with milk
baked beans on toast or a baked potato
Read more about: Pregnancy & Baby