What should I eat while pregnant?
From weird cravings to intense new smells, your relationship with food will change during your pregnancy. Some good, some bad. You might find that the food you once loved you can’t stand to be near anymore. But don’t worry, things tend to go back to normal once your baby is born.
A good, simple pregnancy diet will help keep your energy levels up and your baby well-nourished, which will make you both feel great.
Do I need to eat for two?
It’s likely you’ll feel hungrier than usual when you’re pregnant, after all you are growing a baby inside of you.
Although “eating for two” is a great excuse, you don’t actually need to. As long as you’re eating three healthy meals a day, snacking when you feel hungry, and drinking plenty of water you will probably feel satisfied.
But we wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to sneak in an extra treat here and there!
Fruit and vegetables - 5 (or more) a day
Fruit and veg provide a great source of goodness for you and your baby. But we all know that it can be difficult to get all five portions into your daily diet.
Here’s what counts as a portion of your five a day:
• One medium sized apple, pear or banana
• A handful of grapes
• One big tablespoon of raisins
• A bowl of salad
• Four tablespoons of mixed vegetables
• A glass (150ml) of fruit smoothie or freshly squeezed orange juice
• A bowl of homemade vegetable soup
A good tip is to pack vegetables into dishes such as stew, Bolognese, casserole or curry.
Meat, fish and veggie options - 2 a day
Protein rich foods will help to keep your energy levels up throughout the day. This can come from:
• meat – but not liver
• eggs – fully cooked
• fish – no more than two portions of oily fish per week and no more than four medium cans of tuna / two tuna steaks per week
• shellfish – thoroughly cooked
• veggie alternatives such as Quorn or tofu
When you’re eating meat, make sure that it’s cooked all the way through. To be safe, make sure there’s no pink or bloody juices.
Every little helps when you are trying to keep a check on your fat intake. A good tip is to choose lean cuts of meat or trim off any visible fat before you cook.
Milk and dairy - 2 or 3 a day
Try to eat 2 to 3 portions of dairy per day during your pregnancy. This could include milk, hard cheese and yoghurt that provides a source of calcium.
Opt for low fat alternatives and try:
• a glass of semi-skimmed milk a day
• low-fat and low-sugar yogurt
• reduced fat hard cheese
Remember to avoid mould-ripened cheeses and blue soft cheeses such as brie, camembert, stilton and gorgonzola.
Good news! Foods such as bread, potatoes, rice, pasta and noodles are a great source of energy and will help you feel full without many calories.
If you want to treat yourself to some chips every once in a while, switch to oven chips to keep the fat and salt contents down.
Carbs should only make up around a third of your daily diet. To keep your carbs full of fibre, switch to wholegrain options such as brown rice and wholemeal bread.
Everyone deserves a treat once in a while, especially after a long day when all you want to do is go home, put your feet up and enjoy a good cuppa and a chocolate biscuit.
Just remember that sugary and fatty foods are high in calories and can contribute to weight gain during pregnancy. To keep on track, reduce your added sugar and saturated fat by:
• cutting any excess fat off meat
• grill or bake foods when cooking
• avoid adding too much cooking oil
• eat low fat spreads and yogurts
• limit how many treats you eat a week – the hardest part!
Snacking will help get you through to meal time, try to choose healthy snacks over the tempting crisps and chocolate. This will help you get your daily nutrition and keep you in control of your weight gain.
Try out these snack time ideas:
• veggie sticks and low fat-hummus
• fresh fruit like apples, grapes and pears are quick and easy for snacking on the go
• yogurts are a good source of calcium
• dried fruit and nuts are packed full of omega 3, vitamin E and iron
Growing a baby is thirsty work! Make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking plenty of water, at least 8 glasses. If you prefer some flavour, try adding fresh fruit or have diluted fruit juice.
If you love a morning coffee or tea, try to limit the amount you have throughout the day, or opt for decaf or herbal alternatives.
What foods should I avoid when pregnant?
Trying to decode the list of what you can and can’t eat when you’re expecting is confusing at the best of times. Take a look at the NHS website for a complete list of what foods to avoid during pregnancy.
You’ve got this though, once you get your head around it, you’ll find it easy to choose safe and tasty meals.
Mould-ripened soft cheeses and blue cheese - These should be avoided unless cooked as harmful bacteria such as listeria could be present.
Raw or partially cooked eggs - If you enjoy a runny egg with your breakfast you should only use eggs produced under the Lion Code and are stamped with a red lion symbol. This mark of approval means these eggs are considered very low risk of salmonella. All other eggs must be fully cooked through.
Raw or undercooked meat - All cuts of meat should be cooked thoroughly, with no traces of pink meat or blood. This reduces the risk of toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a parasite found in raw and undercooked meat.
Cold cured meats - Cured meats such as salami, chorizo, pepperoni needs to be either frozen or cooked before eating to kill toxoplasmosis-causing parasites.
Pate - Both meat and vegetable pate can contain listeria so should be avoided.
Liver - Avoid all products containing liver such as pate, liver sausage or haggis as they can contain too much vitamin A which can be harmful to your baby.
Fish - Avoid eating shark, swordfish and marlin during pregnancy and try to limit the amount of tuna you eat to a maximum 2 tuna steaks / 4 medium-sized cans of tuna per week.
Caffeine - Limit your caffeine intake to 200mg of caffeine per day. A cup of instant coffee has around 100mg in and a can of cola contains around 40mg.
Alcohol - To keep your baby healthy you should avoid all alcohol during pregnancy. Try switching to a glass of sparkling juice after a long day instead of wine.
What supplements should I take while pregnant?
Getting all of your nutrition from a healthy balanced diet can be tricky. Speak to your mid-wife or GP for advice on what supplements you might need to boost your vitamin intake.
• Folic acid – only take supplements that do not contain vitamin A
• Vitamin C
• Vitamin D
Important advice for you
Breastfeeding gives your baby the best start in life. The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of your baby’s life, followed by continued breastfeeding together with complementary foods.
Breastmilk promotes your baby’s sensory and cognitive development, it protects your baby against infectious and chronic diseases and can help your baby to recover quicker during illness.
Unlike infant milks, breastfeeding also contributes to your health and well-being, reducing the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer. It can also build a strong emotional bond between you and your baby.
Breastfeeding is safe for the environment. You should also consider the social and financial implications of using infant milk. It is important for you to eat a healthy, balanced diet during your pregnancy and as you breastfeed. Combining breastfeeding and bottle feeding may reduce your breast milk supply and it may be difficult to reverse the decision not to breastfeed.
Please take advice from your healthcare professional before using Baby & Me Organic. If you do choose to use our products, please follow the manufacturer’s instructions very carefully as incorrect preparation may make your baby ill.
The content provided in this article is for information purposes only and should not be regarded as medical advice. Please consult a doctor, midwife or healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns about your or your child’s health.