Eating healthily while pregnant means that your baby eats healthily too
Your baby can tell when mum eats well - healthy eating during pregnancy
Eating healthily while you're pregnant means that your baby eats healthily too.
We all want to eat healthily. But it can feel like a challenge, especially if time is squeezed, money is tight, or you’re just not used to cooking.
When you’re pregnant, eating healthily is doubly important. That’s because every day your baby’s brain and organs are growing and it needs lots of the right nutrients to do this. Eating healthily during pregnancy can also help your baby after it’s born, reducing its risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
And for you, being healthier overall can also help lessen the risk of depression after your baby is born.
Eat for you, not for two
In the past, it was thought that you need to eat for you and your baby during pregnancy. But we now know that you only need to eat for you.
Being pregnant doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically put on weight. Maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy means it’s easier for you to carry your baby, and to have fewer complications at birth. It also means that your baby is more likely to be a healthy weight – both at birth and as they grow up.
It’s only in the final three months of your pregnancy that you need an extra 200 calories a day. That’s the same as two slices of wholemeal or wholegrain toast and margarine.
So… if your mum tells you eat for two, say no thanks. You only need to eat for you!
Read portion tips and advice on Change4Life
Foods to include
Eating a variety of foods will help your baby to get the range of nutrients that it needs to develop and be healthy. These include:
- Fruit and vegetables: try to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day, to provide the vitamins, minerals and fibre your baby needs.
Easy ways to 5 a day, on Change4Life
- Starchy foods (carbohydrates): such as bread, potatoes, breakfast cereals, rice, pasta and noodles. Try to eat wholemeal versions if you can.
- Protein: foods like meat, fish, poultry, eggs, beans, pulses and nuts. Protein provides the building blocks for your baby to grow.
- Dairy products: includes milk, cheese and yoghurt. These contain calcium, essential for healthy bones.
Try to only eat a small amount of foods that are high in sugar or fat.
Giving you a boost
Our 28 day plan helps you take the first step to eating more fruit and veg. Just choose the plan that suits you best and then every Friday for 28 days we’ll send you some handy hints and a free tasty recipe with easy to follow instructions to help you stick with your chosen plan.
Top tips for healthy eating
Don’t skip meals
Skipping meals when pregnant means you and your baby are missing out on the nutrition you both need. Try to eat something for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. If you have morning sickness, try eating little and often instead.
Find healthier recipes on Change4Life
A helping hand
Sign up for Meal Mixer and every Friday for 4 weeks, we’ll send you a tasty, healthy recipe with easy to follow instructions, and a shopping list of all the ingredients you’ll need for around £5. After only 4 weeks you’ll know how to cook at least 4 different meals from scratch!
See Ainsley Harriott’s planning and cooking tips on Change4Life
Stuck for ideas?
Why not try your hand at some new, healthier recipes to make at home – they’re easy, and cost around £5 for 4 adults.
Find healthier recipes on Change4Life
When you’re pregnant, you often get peckish. But crisps, sweets, chocolate and cakes are high in fat and sugar and little nutritional value. Try to keep healthy snacks on hand so you don’t get caught out.
Try our easy, healthy snack swap ideas on Change4Life
Like to eat out?
Takeaways and eating out can mean meals that are high in fat and salt which can be harmful to your health and your baby’s health too.
See our tips for healthier takeaway options on Change4Life
Foods to avoid while pregnant
There are some foods that you shouldn’t eat while you’re pregnant as they can put your baby’s health at risk. These include some types of cheese, raw or partially cooked eggs and raw or undercooked meat.
Read more about foods to avoid during pregnancy, on NHS Choices