Pregnancy and Diet: What to Eat When You are Pregnant

LAST MODIFIED: Thursday, April 25, 2019
Pregnant woman cooking a healthy meal

You want to give your baby the best possible start in life and you know that the best way to look after baby’s health is to look after your own.

What should you eat? What shouldn’t you eat?

How much should you eat? Luckily it’s all fairly simple.


What to Eat When Pregnant

Eat a healthy, balanced diet

Get your minimum of five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables every day. Eat foods that are rich in carbs like bread and pasta, but try to stick to wholegrain products. Eat lean meats and if you don’t often eat fish, add it to the menu at least twice a week. Don’t neglect the dairy, you and your baby need lots of calcium and iodine.


Don’t eat much more than you already do

Your metabolism is set up to make the most of the foods you eat during pregnancy. As a result, you don’t have to ‘eat for two’. Most women don’t need any extra nutrition during the first six months and thereafter, adding an extra snack to the daily menu is sufficient to see you through. Luckily, your appetite is there to tell you what your body needs. On some days, you might not feel very hungry, while on others, you feel the need for something extra. Learning to listen to your body is the first step towards a healthy pregnancy. Towards the end of your pregnancy, your tummy is pretty full of baby, so eating smaller amounts more often can help to reduce discomfort after meals.


What about supplements?

Folic acid and Vitamin D are the two most important supplements that pregnant women should consider adding to their daily routine. Iron supplements are often prescribed for pregnant women, especially during the later stages of pregnancy and while you’re at it, a bit of extra Calcium can do both you and your baby the world of good. Avoid retinol during pregnancy and don’t take huge doses of vitamins and minerals. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan or have any form of diabetes or anemia, you should ask your doctor about additional supplements to ensure a healthy pregnancy.


Foods to limit or avoid

Blue cheeses and cheeses with a white rind like Camembert should be avoided during pregnancy owing to the presence of the bacteria known as Listeria. ‘Blue’ or undercooked meats and extra-runny eggs are worth avoiding as is raw fish and seafood such as oysters. Save these treats for after baby has arrived. Don’t eat too much tuna and avoid marlin or shark. Liver is out until baby arrives and of course, alcohol consumption is a no-no. Cut your coffee and tea consumption to a maximum of two cups per day and avoid caffeine rich drinks such as Coke. Avoiding processed foods is always a good move and it’s particularly important when you’re pregnant.


Don’t diet!

This is definitely the worst time possible to attempt a calorie restricted diet. While you won’t need to eat much more than you already do, eating less is a bad idea! If you’re worried about rapid weight gain during your pregnancy, consult your doctor.