Food and nutrition tips for pregnancy by Martha Roberts

Eating a healthy, balanced diet when pregnant is important to ensure you and your baby get all the nutrients you need

When you’re expecting, it’s vital that you have a balanced diet to keep you healthy and to support the growth of your baby. However, the guidance on what you can and can’t eat when pregnant can be a bit confusing. Here are our tips to make it easier for you.

What should you eat when you’re pregnant?

Eating a healthy, balanced diet during pregnancy not only helps your baby grow healthily and gives them the best start in life but also helps you stay healthy, too.

You don’t need to go on a special diet or spend loads of money on food. Instead, your diet should be balanced and consist of the following:

Fruit and vegetables

Eat at least five portions a day. It doesn’t always have to be fresh veg - frozen, canned, dried, or juiced also counts, and sometimes it’s even better than fresh. Just be sure to avoid anything with added sugar or salt, such as fruit in syrup, and remember that while one glass of juice counts as a portion of fruit, any further juice portions do not count towards your five-a-day.

Starchy foods (carbohydrates)

These are important for energy, certain vitamins, and fibre. They include bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, noodles, and breakfast cereals. Choose wholemeal rather than white where possible.

Protein

Foods in this group - which includes meat, fish, poultry, eggs, beans, pulses and nuts - provide you with what your baby needs to grow. You should aim to have two portions of fish each week, one of which should ideally be oily fish, such as sardines, salmon or mackerel.

Dairy products

Foods such as milk, cheese and yoghurt are rich in calcium and contain other essential nutrients. The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) says it’s best to go for low-fat varieties, such as semi-skimmed, 1% fat or skimmed milk, low-fat yoghurts and reduced-fat hard cheese. Dairy alternatives, such as soya drinks and yoghurts, should be unsweetened and calcium-fortified.