Food swaps for a healthy pregnancy

In pregnancy it's important to eat well. If you are used to eating foods that are high in sugar, salt and fat, you can make a few changes that will be good for you and your baby.

If you eat well in pregnancy your growing baby will get all the nutrients he or she needs to develop. You don't need to go on a special diet during pregnancy, but you should eat a range of different foods.

Sugar, salt and fat are often hidden in many of the foods we eat, especially foods that come ready prepared, takeaways and unhealthy snacks, such as cakes, crisps, biscuits and soft drinks. While you shouldn't go hungry during your pregnancy, it's important to limit these types of food. Try to have a range of foods that contain all the good nutrients you need. Foods and drinks that have a lot of  sugar, salt and fat are more likely to make you put on extra weight and prevent you being hungry for all the good things you need.

Here are some ideas for food swaps for a healthier diet.

Instead of fizzy drinks, squash, energy drinks, cordials and fruit juice drinks


  • still, sparkling or tap water
  • fruit or herbal tea
  • semi-skimmed or skimmed milk.

Instead of white bread, toast, bagels, pitta bread, chapati or rolls


  • wholegrain or wholemeal versions, which have more fibre and vitamins and will fill you up for longer

Instead of cakes or biscuits


  • fruit: fresh, tinned in juice or a small portion of dried fruit
  • a handful of unsalted nuts or seeds
  • a low-fat yoghurt with added fruit
  • a slice of malt loaf or a toasted teacake

Instead of breakfast cereals with added sugar (check the packet - a cereal is high in sugar if it has more than 15g of sugar per 100g of cereal)


  • porridge with added fruit
  • wholegrain cereals such as puffed wheat and shredded wheat type cereals
  • muesli with no added sugar.

Instead of sausages, burgers, chicken nuggets, kebabs, meat pies, fish fingers or cakes or other processed meat and fish dishes. 


  • meat and fish in its ‘natural state’, such as chicken breast or fish

Instead of chips from the chip shop


  • boiled or mashed potatoes (you can leave the skins on!)
  • baked potato in its skin (you can do this in a microwave)
  • home made wedges cooked in the oven.

Instead of full-fat hard cheese, such as Cheddar


  • using less cheese in recipes by adding a smaller amount of stronger cheese
  • cottage cheese.

Instead of creamy or cheesy sauces


  • tomato sauce made with fresh or tinned tomatoes, onions and herbs
  • tomato sauce with added vegetables.

creamy to tomato pasta sauce

Instead of fruit juice


  • eating the actual fruit (it has fibre and minerals, and keeps you fuller for longer)

juice to fruit


Download Your guide to a healthy diet in pregnancy here

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  1.  Have a healthy diet in pregnancy’, NHS Choices: 18 January 2015]
  2. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2010) ‘Weight Management Before, During and After Pregnancy’, NICE Public Health Guidelines 27: [accessed 18 January 2015]
  3. Yang Q (2010). “Gain weight by ‘going diet?’ Artficial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings.” Neuroscience 2010;82:101-108
  4. Starchy foods’, NHS Choices: [accessed 18 January 2015] 
  5. ‘Juices, smoothies and 5 A DAY’ in ‘Water and drinks’, NHS Choices: [accessed 18 January 2015] 
  6. Muraki I, et al. (2013). “Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies.” BMJ 2013; 347 doi:
  7. Grobler SR, et al. (1990). “In vitro demineralization of enamel by orange juice, apple juice, pepsi cola and diet pepsi cola.” Clinical Preventive Dentistry 1990;5:5-9
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Last reviewed on August 1st, 2016. Next review date August 1st, 2019.

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