What to eat when you’re pregnant
Essential food groups, what to avoid eating and simple dishes that will give your diet a healthy boost when you’re expecting
Any nutritionist will tell you that eating a varied, balance diet is the best thing for you and your body at any time of life, but when you’re pregnant you are also feeding your baby.
Don’t feel overwhelmed by the responsibility, though, just try to take a sensible approach to eating and make healthy snacks your new go-to between meals. And one more thing, don’t worry about pregnancy weight gain. This is not the time to go on a weight-loss diet, just be kind to your body.
Key food groups when you are pregnant
FRUIT AND VEG – Try to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day (this can mean raw, frozen, cooked or tinned and drinking any amount of fruit juice counts as one portion).
STARCHY FOODS – like potatoes are important because they contain vitamin B, fibre, calcium and iron.
FISH – this includes oily fish like salmon or mackerel – great for vitamins, minerals, essential omega-3 fatty acids. However, limit tuna to two steaks a week or four cans a week, eat no more than two portions of oily fish a week and avoid shark, swordfish and marlin altogether. You don’t need to limit your intake of fish like cod, haddock, plaice and skate.
MEAT – is a great source of protein but try to choose the leaner cuts or cut off any fat you can see before cooking and don't add too much more oil – meat will produce its own oil.
VEGETARIAN AND VEGAN OPTIONS – make sure you’re getting enough iron, B12 and vitamin D from non-meat or fish sources sources. These sources include pulses, dark green veggies, eggs (for vegetarians), fortified cereals, fried fruit and wholemeal bread.
CALCIUM – try to drink a glass of milk a few times a week, or have milk with your cereal so that you get a healthy supply of calcium. You can also get calcium from cheese, yogurt and fromage frais.
UNSATURATED FATS – eating saturated fats isn’t great (cakes, biscuits, cheese, pastries), but unsaturated fat is a good source of essential fatty acids. Stick to: oily fish, avocado, sunflower, rapeseed and olive oil.
WATER – try to drink 1.2 litres of water a day (roughly six to eight glasses of water).
You don’t need to eat for two!
Before you reach for an extra layer in that box of chocolates claiming that you’re ‘eating for two’, it’s worth noting that this phrase is much misunderstood.
When you’re pregnant, you will notice that when you’re hungry, you really do have to satisfy that hunger quickly, but you’ll burn the ‘empty’ calories of sweets and crisps quickly. Instead, you’ll find that quick fixes like a few nuts, toast or fruit will keep you going until the next meal.
Overall, women tend to need an additional 250 to 300 calories a day ion top of the healthy average of around 2000kcal a day.
Easy ways to add a tasty 300 calories to your diet
- Cereal, milk and a banana
- Porridge and a banana (no sugar on top!)
- A baked potato, sour cream and fresh fruit for desert
- One bowl of soup, a small salad and wholewheat crackers
- A small grilled breast of chicken and green beans
- Chicken salad with low-fat dressing
- Scrambled eggs and wholewheat toast
- Grilled fish, peas and mash potato (this is probably just over 300 cals)
- Chicken with steamed broccoli
- Tuna salad
- Bagel with low fat cream cheese
Feel the best you can in pregnancy – don’t miss our tips for exercise in pregnancy, too!
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