If you do a quick Google search, you’ll probably find that there’s lots of conflicting advice about what you should and shouldn’t be eating during your pregnancy, and it can be really hard to know what to do for the best.
I’m sure you’ve got enough on your mind at the moment, so I want to help make this as simple as possible for you, and also make sure that you’re feeling fantastic throughout your pregnancy by getting enough good quality nutrition into your diet.
Let’s start with what you should be including in your diet:
During your pregnancy, it’s still super important that you’re eating a healthy balanced diet so that you’re getting all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that you and your baby need.
Look to include starchy whole grain foods, such as pasta, bread, cereals, rice and potatoes.
These foods are going to help keep your energy levels up, as well as having important vitamins and fibre (I’ll come to why fibre is important shortly!) They’re also going to help keep you feeling fuller, so you’re not too tempted to overdo the sugary snacks which can lead to excess weight gain.
Make sure you’re getting your fruit and veg in!
When it comes to fruit and veg, aim to get your five a day. Tinned, fresh, frozen and canned all count. If you’re having fresh fruit or veg, make sure that you wash it carefully first.
Fruit and veg is great for providing you with important vitamins, minerals and fibre – and fibre is really important for you – as it helps with your digestion and can stop you from getting constipated. Let’s be honest, nobody wants that!
Include protein in your diet in the form of beans, pulses, fish, eggs (avoid raw or partially cooked eggs), lean meat (avoid liver though), and poultry. Take care when you’re cooking your meat that everything is properly cooked through and that you’ve not got any pink bits.
Include dairy products, such as milk, yoghurts and cheese to ensure you’re getting the calcium that you and your baby need. If you choose to go for dairy alternatives, try and get ones which are fortified with calcium so you’re not missing out.
Try and include foods that are high in folate, such as oranges, berries, green leafy vegetables, beetroot, beans and brown bread. Taking a folic acid supplement is also recommended, so I’d recommend speaking to your midwife about this for more advice.
Vitamin D is also important for the growth and development of your baby’s bones – and for your bones too. It can be hard to get the vitamin D that we need through food and sunlight alone (especially in the Winter!) and taking a Vitamin D supplement is often recommended. Again, speak to your midwife about this one.
There are some foods that should be avoided during pregnancy, including soft cheese or cheese that are cooked with unpasteurised milk.
Be careful with cold cured meats (such as salami and chorizo) as these aren’t cooked, and avoid raw or undercooked meats, game, liver, and pate (even vegetarian pate).
Try to eat British Lion eggs when you’re including eggs – as these are less likely to have salmonella (this can cause food poisoning) and avoid duck, goose or quail eggs unless they’re thoroughly cooked through.
When it comes to fish, there’s quite a lot of info to remember.
The NHS.UK website states:
“you should eat no more than 2 portions of oily fish a week, such as salmon, trout, mackerel or herring,’ and, “you should eat no more than 2 tuna steaks (about 140g cooked or 170g raw) or 4 medium-size cans of tuna (about 140g when drained) per week.”
Tuna doesn’t count as an oily fish, and you can have 2 tuna steaks, or 4 medium-size cans of fish, as well as 2 portions of oily fish.
Avoid swordfish, marlin, shark and raw shellfish (mind you, I’d guess it’s unlikely you could stomach raw shellfish at the moment anyway…!)
A few other things to be aware of are your caffeine intake – try to limit this to 200mg a day (as a guide, there’s roughly 100mg in a cup of instant coffee), don’t drink more than four cups of herbal tea a day, avoid liquorice root, and avoid alcohol.
What about eating for two…?
I’m afraid this is a bit of a myth. You may find that some days you’re hungrier than others and this is totally normal. Keep your diet varied and balanced, and don’t cut out all of your favourite foods.
Try and keep a good balance as much as you can by including foods from all of the food groups.
Of course, it’s totally natural and normal to gain weight during pregnancy but by eating well and keeping active, you’ll be able to keep your weight gain to a healthy level, and this is good for both you and your baby!
This isn’t a time to worry about dieting, but making sure you’re eating a healthy balanced diet will keep you feeling fantastic, and will get your baby’s life off to a healthy start!
If you have any concerns or questions about your diet throughout your pregnancy, or if you want to know if you should be taking any supplements, make sure you ask your Doctor or Midwife for their advice.
British Nutrition Foundation