A healthy, well balanced diet during pregnancy will allow you to get all the nutrients you need to stay healthy and help with the development and growth of your baby.
There is a lot of information out there about nutrition in pregnancy which can sometimes be overwhelming, so I’m going to keep it simple and share my 5 top tips on healthy eating in pregnancy.
Discover more top pregnancy tips in my feature preparing for baby
Eating during pregnancy
Your diet during pregnancy may become a bit erratic. It can be difficult to get the right balance especially if you are experiencing morning sickness, hyperemesis or food aversions - so don’t feel guilty if you have bad days and are not able to tolerate certain foods.
1. Start with breakfast
Start the day with a nutritious breakfast; this should give you the energy you need to begin the day and helps to reduce snacking. A few easy breakfast ideas include wholegrain toast with avocado, cereal with banana and porridge or yoghurt with fruit.
2. Eat regular meals
Try to have regular meals with a variety of foods, this includes:
- Eating 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day.
- Starch-based foods are a great source of energy and help to keep you fuller for longer without too many calories. This includes bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, cereals and oats (choose wholegrain where possible).
- Protein-rich foods such as beans, pulses, eggs, fish, poultry and nuts. If you are cooking meat, ensure it is cooked thoroughly and do not eat raw or undercooked meat. It is also advised to avoid liver because it contains high amounts of vitamin A which can be harmful to an unborn baby. Aim to eat 2 portions of fish per week; fish is a great source of vitamins, minerals and it is high in omega-3-fatty acids. There are some types of fish that should be avoided such as shark, swordfish, marlin and others that should be limited in pregnancy such as oily fish (mackerel, sardines) and tuna.
- If you are eating eggs ensure they are cooked until the white and yolk are solid. There is a risk of salmonella when eating raw or undercooked eggs unless they have a red lion stamp.
- Dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yoghurt are an important source of calcium, choose a low-fat variety where possible and avoid unpasteurised milk and cheese as well as soft mould-ripened cheeses.
See the full list of foods to avoid during pregnancy on the NHS website
3. 'Eating for two' myth
Your energy needs do not change in the first 6 months of pregnancy and increases by around 200 calories in the third trimester, so there is no need to eat for two! For more information head to NICE for tips on weight management.
4. Healthy snacks
If you do feel hungry between meals opt for healthy options and avoid snacks that are high in fat and sugar. Try hummus with vegetable sticks, a small sandwich or a small bowl of unsweetened cereal with milk.
5. Food Preparation
It is important to prepare food safely:
- Wash your hands with soap and water before handling any food
- Wash the surfaces, cooking equipment and your hands after handling raw meat
- Prepare and store raw foods separately to avoid contamination
- Ensure all fruit and vegetables are washed thoroughly before eating them to remove any dirt
Want to read more?
Discover tips on healthy eating and more to look after your hair post-pregnancy in my feature on post-pregnancy hair loss
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