Even when you're eating healthily, it can be hard to know how much you should eat. The amount you need to eat in pregnancy will depend on different things, such as how active you are. A 'portion' is the amount of any one type of food you eat. It is used when experts recommend how much you should eat. This is a guide to portion sizes.
Small fresh fruit
One portion could be two or more small fruit, such as:
- two plums
- two satsumas
- two kiwi fruit
- three apricots
- seven strawberries
- 14 cherries.
Medium fresh fruit
One portion could be one piece of fruit, such as one apple, banana, pear, orange or nectarine.
Large fresh fruit
One portion is:
- half a grapefruit
- one slice of papaya
- a 5cm slice of melon
- one large slice of pineapple
- two 5cm slices of mango.
What size should my meal be?
These pictures below have been taken from Eating well for a healthy pregnancy by The First Steps Nutrition Trust and they show you the size of main meal an average woman should eat. The cutlery is standard sized so it should give you a good sense of plate size.
Meatballs in tomato sauce
Tuna and tomato pasta
When choosing food away from the home it can be more difficult to manage portion sizes. Often portions served in takeaways, restaurants and cafes are larger. This is tempting and likely to add extra calories to your day. Typically large portions are not the healthier foods!
When you’re choosing food out of home some things to think about include:
- Share the main course and bulk it out with a side of vegetables or salad.
- A starter size might be more than enough, again you can add a side of veg or salad if need be.
- Ask about taking leftovers away. Many restaurants will give you leftovers to takeaway. These can then be eaten another day (just remember to consider food safety if reheating.)
- When buying ready meals or pre-packaged foods, look for the portion size indicator.
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).
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.
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.
- Thanks to Dr Helen Crawley from the First Steps Nutrition Trust for allowing us to use portion size images from her guide Eating well for a healthy pregnancy. Available here: http://www.firststepsnutrition.org/contact.html
NHS Choices [accessed 22/06/2017]. 5 a day portion sizes. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/5ADAY/Pages/Portionsizes.aspx (Page last reviewed: 12/12/2015, Next review due: 07/12/2018)
First Steps Nutrition Trust (2017) Eating well for a healthy pregnancy: A practical guide, London, England
ℹLast reviewed on June 22nd, 2017. Next review date June 22nd, 2020.