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.
- Oven chips
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.
Instead of fruit juice
If you eat a whole fruit you get the benefit of the juice as well as all the important other components of the fruit such as fibre and minerals and you will feel fuller for longer. One glass of fresh fruit juice a day can be a useful source of vitamin C, but there is no advantage to drinking lots of juice and it can damage your teeth if you drink it regularly as it contains sugars and acid.
- eating the actual fruit (it has fibre and minerals, and keeps you fuller for longer)
If you’re struggling with morning sickness, or finding it hard to get up in the morning, breakfast is probably way down your list of priorities in pregnancy. We look at why it’s worth getting up for.
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.
During pregnancy eating small more frequent meals can help with sickness. If you want a snack, there are lots of healthier options.
These healthy pregnancy recipes are great for your main meal of the day, when you have a little more time to prepare, cook and eat food.
These meals are good for lunchtime, as they’re quick to make. Sandwiches and soups are great for taking to work, too.
- Yang Q (2010). “Gain weight by ‘going diet?’ Artficial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings.” Neuroscience 2010;82:101-108
- NHS Choices [accessed 21 June 2017] Starchy foods’, http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/starchy-foods.aspx (Page last reviewed: 31/03/2017 Next review due: 31/03/2020).
- NHS Choices [accessed 21 June 2017] Juices, smoothies and 5 A DAY’ in ‘Water and drinks’, http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/water-drinks.aspx (Page last reviewed: 13/07/2015 Next review due: 13/07/2018).
- 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
- Muraki I, et al. (2013). “Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies.” BMJ 2013; 347 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f5001
- NHS Choices [accessed 21 June 2017] Have a healthy diet in pregnancy, http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/healthy-pregnancy-... (Page last reviewed: 27/01/2017 Next review due: 27/01/2020).
ℹLast reviewed on June 27th, 2017. Next review date June 27th, 2020.