Now is not the time to diet. Diets can harm your baby by depriving them of food groups. But managing your weight by eating well and keeping active is good for you and your baby.
We’ve put together some tips on having a healthy diet in pregnancy.
Don’t eat for two
First things first, the whole ‘eating for two’ thing is a myth. During pregnancy you don’t need to consume any extra calories for your baby, until the final trimester. At that point you need an extra 200 calories only.
Choose slow release foods
Choose foods that release their energy slowly, rather than give you an energy spike, which ends with a crash (think sugary things like biscuits, cakes).
- multigrain or granary bread
- basmati rice
- potatoes - new, boiled, baked - and eat the skin
- sweet potatoes
- wholemeal pasta.
Breakfast like a king
Don't skip breakfast. People who eat breakfast are better able to manage their weight. Choose sugar-free wholegrain cereals. Try and get some of your 5 a day in if possible by adding fruit.
During pregnancy, it can also help ease morning sickness by boosting your blood sugar levels and is likely to stop you overeating later in the day.
If you can’t stomach much, even nibbling some dry toast is better than nothing. Take a look at these 5 easy breakfast ideas.
Another pregnancy myth is that exercise might harm your baby. It won’t. Staying active will benefit both you and your baby, and help get your body ready for labour.
Find out more about how much exercise is right for you (you may need to start slow and build it up), and the best ways to keep active during pregnancy.
Healthy food swaps
When you get a craving for sweet foods, it’s 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 calories. Try these simple food swaps.
Your body needs extra fluids to keep up with the demands of pregnancy. Water is the best choice, but if you need to mix it up try to avoid sugary drinks like cola and stick to one glass of fruit juice a day.
High in natural sugar, fruit juice can make your blood sugar levels fall and rise rapidly. Choose fresh juice with pulp, and avoid shop-bought juices with added sugar, or ‘made from concentrate’.
Calcium is great for you and your baby, but when drinking milk, choose semi-skimmed, not full-fat.
Eat small and often
Eating smaller meals throughout the day can help in all sorts of ways. It can:
- prevent nausea and sickness
- help with indigestion and heartburn
- make you feel more comfortable as the baby gets bigger
- keep sudden pregnancy cravings under control.
Eating a balanced and varied diet makes sure you have all the nutrients you and your baby need during your pregnancy. But this should not be accompanied by feelings of guilt, or add to the pressures of staying home during the pandemic.
A survey of 2,100 women in the UK has shown that 4 out of 5 aren't sure how many calories to eat when pregnant.
The study looked at data of 12,500 women during their pregnancy.
Find out why breakfast is important in pregnancy and get some healthy pregnancy breakfast ideas
How much should you eat in pregnancy? During most of your pregnancy you do not need to take in extra calories (over the recommended 2,000 a day for women).
Choosing healthy foods is very important but the amount you eat is important too. Find out what a 'portion' means for different foods
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NHS Choices (accessed 16 August 2015) Healthy food swaps http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/loseweight/Pages/Healthyfoodswaps.aspx
NHS Healthy Start (accessed 27 January 2015) Healthy eating in pregnancy http://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/food-and-health-tips/healthy-eating-in-pregnancy/
NHS Choices (accessed 27 January 2015) Have a healthy diet in pregnancy http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/healthy-pregnancy-diet.aspxHide details
ℹLast reviewed on February 1st, 2015. Next review date February 1st, 2018.