Healthy eating

Eating a healthy, nutritious diet is especially important if you're pregnant, or planning a pregnancy. Your baby relies on you to provide the right balance of nutrients to help them grow and develop properly (even after they're born).


What food should I eat in pregnancy?

You don't need to spend lots of money, or go on a special diet – you just need a balance of the right types of food. These include:

Fruit and vegetables

Aim to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg a day. Fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced can be part of your daily allowance – try to avoid anything with added salt or sugar.

Starchy foods (carbohydrates)

These types of food are an important source of energy, certain vitamins and fibre. They include bread, potatoes, breakfast cereals, rice, pasta and noodles. Opt for wholemeal instead of refined, starchy (white) versions, when possible.


Foods in this group include meat (avoid liver), fish, poultry, eggs, beans, pulses and nuts. Protein provides the building blocks for your baby to grow.

  • Aim to have two portions of fish each week. Make one of them an oily fish like salmon, sardines or mackerel. There are some types of fish you should avoid (shark, swordfish and marlin) if you're pregnant, or trying to conceive.
  • Eggs produced under the British Lion Code of Practice (stamped with the red lion) are considered very low risk for salmonella, and safe for pregnant women to eat raw or partially cooked.

Dairy products

Dairy includes milk, cheese and yoghurt. These products contain calcium and other essential nutrients. When possible, choose low-fat varieties, such as semi-skimmed, one per cent fat or skimmed milk, low-fat yoghurt and reduced-fat hard cheese. If you prefer dairy alternatives, such as soya drinks and yoghurts, opt for unsweetened, calcium-fortified versions.

What am I not allowed to eat in pregnancy?

There are certain 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 and raw or undercooked meat. Here's a guide on which foods to avoid in pregnancy.

Do I have to eat for two when pregnant?

No – this is a myth! Being pregnant, you'll obviously be more hungry than usual, but even if you are expecting twins or triplets, you don't need to eat extra portions. In the final three months of your pregnancy, you'll need an extra 200 calories a day – that's the same as two slices of wholemeal toast and margarine.

Healthy eating tip

Try starting the day with a healthy breakfast. This should help you snack less between meals – especially on foods that are high in fat and sugar. Here are some delicious, nutritious and filling breakfast ideas.

Healthy Start vouchers for pregnant women

You may be entitled to Healthy Start vouchers. These can be used to buy milk, and plain, fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables in local shops. You can also get vouchers for free vitamins.

More info:


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