A healthy diet is an important part of a healthy life style at any time, but especially vital when you are planning a pregnancy and during pregnancy. Eating healthily during pregnancy will not only keep you fit and well, but will also help your baby develop and grow.
You do not need to go on a special diet but make sure that you eat a variety of different foods every day in order to get the right balance of nutrients that you and your baby need. You should also avoid certain foods which may affect the pregnancy to find out more click here.
There is no need to ‘eat for two’ when pregnant. Your body becomes more efficient when you are pregnant and makes better use of the energy you obtain from the food you eat.
A woman’s energy needs only increase in the third trimester of pregnancy by approximately 200 extra calories a day (equal to about half a sandwich!).
Therefore a healthy diet during pregnancy is more about the quality of food eaten rather than the quantity.
Eating healthily often means just changing the amounts of different foods that you eat so that your diet is varied, rather than cutting out all your favourites.
Try to include in your diet:
Wholegrain bread, cereals and potatoes, including rice, yam, pasta, chapatti, bulgur and couscous
These foods are an important part of any diet and should, with vegetables, form the main part of any meal. They are satisfying, without containing too many calories, and are an important source of vitamins and fibre.
Fruit and vegetables
All provide vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre, which helps digestion and prevents constipation. Aim to eat five or more portions a day. Fresh, frozen, tinned, dried and juiced all count towards your five a day.
For further information visit NHS Choices 5 a day tips.
Lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, beans and pulses
All are good sources of protein and meat provides iron.
Aim for at least two servings of fish a week, including one of oily fish (for example mackerel, sardines, pilchards, herring, tuna steaks, trout and salmon).
If you do not like oily fish you can take a fish oil supplement instead, however do make sure it does not contain vitamin A ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
Dairy Products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt
All are important sources of calcium and other nutrients. Try to choose low-fat varieties wherever possible, for example semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, low-fat yoghurt and half-fat hard cheese. Aim to have two to three servings of these foods every day. If you use soya products ensure you use those with added calcium.
Foods containing fat and sugar
Try to cut down on foods such as fried food, pastry, butter, biscuits, sweets, cakes and sugary drinks like cola. Cutting down on foods containing fat can reduce your risk of heart disease and can help you to avoid putting on too much weight during pregnancy.
For further information on how to have a healthy diet visit www.eatwell.gov.uk
Vegetarian and vegan diets whilst pregnant
As long as a vegetarian diet is varied and balanced, it should provide adequate nutrients for you and your baby during pregnancy.
However, iron and vitamin B12 can be hard to obtain from both vegetarian and vegan diets, and a supplement may be necessary to find out more click here.
If you are vegan (i.e. you cut out all animal products from your diet), or you follow another type of restricted diet (e.g. gluten free), because of food intolerance (e.g. coeliac disease) or for religious reasons, speak to your doctor for advice on how to make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need for you and your baby.
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