Pregnancy diet dos and don’ts

There’s no escaping it: Everyone puts on weight in pregnancy. It’s totally normal and the right thing for you and your baby. Managing your weight by eating well and keeping active is good for you and your baby.

It’s not just extra fat stores to protect (and later help feed) your baby, it’s the placenta, extra fluid and blood, your baby and even your growing boobs (they can gain as much as 3lbs preparing for breastfeeding) that all add up.

Now is not the time to diet. But managing your weight by eating well and keeping active is good for you and your baby.

However, that’s easier said than done. So, we’ve put together tips on how to avoid piling on unnecessary pounds in pregnancy.

Don’t eat for two

First things first, the whole ‘eating for two’ thing - pushed by doting grannies-to-be as they pile your plate high - is a big fat myth. During pregnancy you don’t need to consume any extra calories for your baby, until the final trimester, when it’s just a miniscule 200 calories.

Getting this fact straight can make a big difference to how you approach food in pregnancy. We can help you hit your calorie target with these 200 calorie pregnancy snack ideas.

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.

Slow release

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).

Instead try:

  • Multigrain or granary bread
  • Basmati rice
  • Potatoes - new, boiled, baked - and eat the skin
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pasta.

Breakfast like a king

The proof is in the porridge - people that eat breakfast are better able to manage their weight. 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. 

Stay active

Another pregnancy misconception is that exercise might harm your baby. It won’t. It 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 an attack of the pregnancy munchies, it’s so 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.

The crazy but clever thing in pregnancy is that your baby takes what it needs but, if you’re not getting enough vitamins and minerals, you’ll be left lacking, which can lead to energy slumps, tiredness and generally feeling pretty ropey.

If you’re short of ideas, see our list of nutritious pregnancy foods and take note of how to swap unhealthy foods for healthy 

Drink right

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.

 Have a play with our BMI calculator to find out if you’re a healthy weight.

Find out more about eating well in pregnancy here.

Download your guide to a healthy weight gain in pregnancy as a pdf.

More healthy pregnancy meal ideas

  • Bowl of bran flakes

    Breakfast with benefits

    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.

  • 200 calorie pregnancy snacks

    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 the third trimester you may need an extra 200 extra calories a day if you are still active.

  • A portion of pizza.

    What size is a portion of food?

    Choosing healthy foods is very important but the amount you eat is important too.

  • Swap sweet drinks for water.

    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.

  • Hard boiled egg and whole meal toast.

    10 super snacks to help your baby grow

    During pregnancy eating small more frequent meals can help with sickness. If you want a snack, there are lots of healthier options.

  • Vegetable curry

    6 delicious dinner recipes

    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.

Sources

Last reviewed on February 1st, 2015. Next review date February 1st, 2018.

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