7 tips for eating well in pregnancy
Eating well and keeping active in pregnancy is good for you and your baby. We have put together some tips on having a healthy diet in pregnancy.
There is no need to ‘eat for two’
Unfortunately, this is a myth. During pregnancy you do not need to consume any extra calories for your baby, until the final trimester. At that point, if you are quite active, you may need an extra 200 calories. Of course, it's important to listen to your body and focus on having a healthy balanced diet.
Choose slow-release energy foods
For your main meal, choose foods that release their energy slowly. These include:
- wholemeal, multigrain or granary bread, chapatis or pita bread made from wholemeal flour
- brown rice and other grains such as bulgur wheat, couscous, millet or quinoa
- potatoes, yam and other starchy root vegetables
- wholemeal pasta.
This will help you feel fuller for longer and will keep your energy levels high.
Try not to skip breakfast
Eating a healthy breakfast can help you to avoid snacking on foods that are high in fat and sugar. Eating breakfast can also help ease morning sickness by boosting your blood sugar levels. You may find it easier to eat little and often in the morning rather than having one large breakfast. Even nibbling some dry toast is better than nothing.
You could try sugar-free wholegrain cereals and adding some fruit to your breakfast to get some more fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Take a look at these 5 easy breakfast ideas.
Stay as active as you can
Staying active will benefit both you and your baby and will help you maintain a healthy diet. The kind of exercise you are able to do will depend on the individual, but every little helps. You may need to start slow and build it up. Find out more about staying active during pregnancy.
I'm 24 weeks pregnant and the information and advice out there about diet and pregnancy has felt overwhelming at times. I try to concentrate on eating regular meals, staying active, and listening to my body.
Try some healthy food swaps
When you get a craving for sweet foods, it is easy to reach for a comforting slice of cake. That’s fine as a special treat once in a while, but you and your baby will benefit from some more nutritious foods.
Try to drink enough water
It is important we all stay hydrated and drink enough fluid, particularly when the weather is hot. Water is the best choice, but if you prefer to vary your drinks throughout the day, 100% fresh fruit juice can be a good source of vitamin C. Try to stick to 1 glass a day as this is also high in free sugars and avoid juices with added sugar or ‘made from concentrate’. Try to avoid fizzy drinks and energy drinks as these can be high in sugar and may have a lot of caffeine. Too much caffeine can be harmful in pregnancy and it best to limit your intake as low as possible below 200mg.
Drinking animal milk or unsweetened fortified milk alternatives can provide calcium and other nutrients which are good for your baby. If drinking animal milk choose skimmed, 1% or semi-skimmed milk.
Read more about staying hydrated in pregnancy.
Eating small and often can help with some common pregnancy complaints
Eating smaller meals throughout the day may help with:
- nausea and sickness
- indigestion and heartburn
- making you feel more comfortable as the baby gets bigger.
Foods and drinks to avoid during pregnancy
Some foods are best to avoid completely during pregnancy and others may need to be cooked or prepared a certain way. Here is some information to help you understand how to have a safe diet during pregnancy.
The Association of British Dieticians (accessed 27/10/20), Healthy Breakfast: Food Fact Sheet: https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/healthy-breakfast.html
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2010). Weight management before, during and after pregnancy. Public health guideline [PH27].
NHS Choices (accessed 27/10/20) Healthy Food Swaps: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/healthy-food-swaps/
NHS Choices (accessed 27/10/20) Healthy Pregnancy Diet: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/healthy-pregnancy-diet/
NHS Choices (accessed 14/1/21) Indigestion and heartburn in pregnancy: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/indigestion-heartburn-pregnant/
NHS Choices (accessed 14/1/21) Vomiting and morning sickness: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/morning-sickness-nausea/