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 an extra treat here and there!
Fruits and vegetables - 5 (or more) a day
Fruits and vegetables 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 its cooked all the way through. To be safe, make sure there’s no pink or bloody juices.
Every little habit 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 stay 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 in a week – the hardest part!
Snacking will help get you through to meal time, try to choose healthy snacks over the tempting chips and chocolate. This will help you get your daily nutrition and keep you in control of your weight gain.
Try 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 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 your 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.