A healthy diet for pregnancy is one of those subjects that everyone will have an opinion on! Watch out for the old wive’s tales. Food and nutrition are the building blocks for a healthy natural pregnancy. Nurturing your growing baby and yourself is definitely THE most important element of a healthy pregnancy.
Dieting as such is a complete "No, no" in pregnancy. You're not trying to loose weight, but to maintain a healthy weight. If you're concerned about gaining weight or staying fit during pregnancy check out the prenatal exercise page for lots of great ideas. A sensible healthy diet for pregnancy will aid your goal of maintaining or attaining a normal weight/height ratio or BMI.
Remember to try and eat organic wholefoods whenever possible, i.e. brown rice, potatoes, wholemeal pasta, nuts, beans, vegetables etc. If you have access to a local ‘organic box scheme’ try to sign up for it, or start a small co-operative with a 2 or 3 friends so you can buy in bulk from the local Health Food or Wholefood store or organic farm.
When considering a healthy diet for pregnancy it’s also important to avoid as much processed food or ready meals as possible. You and your baby don’t need all those E numbers, salts, sugars and additives! If you find it hard to make time to produce a home-cooked meal at the end of the day, talk with your partner about finding a solution. Remember that you both (and your baby) need a healthy diet during pregnancy. Go to
Foods To Avoid page to learn more about which foods are unsafe for you and your baby during pregnancy. This includes
alcohol too of course.
Maybe you can both take turns in cooking, or do some bulk cooking on the weekend and have meals ready in the freezer for weekdays. If your mom or mom-in-law wants to be involved, let her know that you would really appreciate a few home-cooked meals! She’ll feel appreciated and you’ll be happy too knowing you're getting the healthiest diet during pregnancy.
As soon as you find out you're pregnant you start reading all the labels in the supermarket, reducing your red meat intake, buying more fruit…..and then, just when you want to take in all the ‘right’ foods, you start getting ‘morning sickness’ and can’t face any vegetables or fruit! Are you worried that you're getting enough folic acid in your healthy diet for pregnancy?
Oh what to do? Don’t worry, in the early stages of pregnancy (the first trimester) your baby takes all the nutrients it needs from the reserves in your body. That’s right. What you've been eating in the months leading up to conception really counts here!
I need plenty of dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt to maintain my calcium levels, right? Wrong. This is probably the number one 'healthy diet for pregnancy' misconception. We can obtain a healthy amount of calcium through eating other, non-dairy foods. Some of the non-dairy foods with the highest amounts of dietary calcium are: green leafy vegetables including cabbage, broccoli, kale, swiss chard and also almonds, salmon, baked beans, sesame seeds, oatmeal and quinoa. Go to Mineral's page for more info on Calcium.
O.K. if you haven't heard of 'Quinoa' (pronounced, "keen waah"), here's a bit about this fantastic healthy food. Quinoa is an ancient type of grain that is very high in protein. It's gluten-free and is wonderful in salads or as a hot accompaniment to a main meal, e.g. with curry, stew or your favourite savoury food. it makes a great addition to a healthy diet for pregnancy. Eat it hot or cold.
In it's raw state it looks like tiny white or brown balls. You cook it the same way as rice, just add 1 cup of water to each cup of quinoa. I love it in a grated carrot salad with tomatoes. Yum!
Salad dressings: Don't forget to add a few cloves of crushed garlic to your usual vinegrette dressings, or to any meals in fact. We know that breast fed babies enjoy mom's milk more if she's eating garlic or has had it in pregnancy!
Hard to believe I know, but flavours do get through to breast milk.
Many non-organic dairy products have a quantity of unnatural growth hormones and antibiotics which are fed to the cows. These are the last things your baby needs in a healthy pregnancy diet. Try some organic goats milk next time you’re out shopping. It tastes just like cow's milk, only it may suit your digestive system better.
Many types of cheese are fine to eat, but always check that they're made from pasteurised milk. This includes cottage cheese, mozzarella, feta, cream cheese, ricotta, halloumi, goats' cheese and processed cheeses including cheese spreads. Many companies now produce pasteurised versions of these cheeses.
If you are vegetarian or vegan you will quite likely have as high a level of calcium and other nutrients as those who eat plenty of meat and dairy. Just remember to eat plenty of pulses and legumes as well as fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts and grains. Vegetarian sources of omega-3 oils include flax seeds and oil and linseeds and products made of these.
Reducing your intake of red and other meats is a healthy decision while pregnant, or even if you‘re not pregnant! If you normally have red meat 5-7 times a week, reduce it down a bit, maybe 2 – 3 times a week instead, and have smaller portions. Aim to buy organic, lean meat if you can.
Try to increase the amount of fish you have in your healthy diet for pregnancy, especailly oily fish such as Mackeral, Anchovies or Salmon. You have probably heard that oily fish are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which help build healthy brains and have many other health benefits. Read about which fish are best
avoided in pregnancy.
On a cautionary note: it is advised that you only eat fresh tuna no more than 2 or 3 times a week or 3 small cans of tinned tuna per week. Also, don’t forget to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
My number one tip for a healthy diet for pregnancy is: Enjoy your food! A little bit of what you fancy does you good, as they say. So don’t cut out all the chocolates and cakes, but be careful and save them for occasional treats rather than everyday habits.
For more details on specific nutrients see list below:
What great recipes do you have that you’d like to share with everyone visiting this site? Delicious dishes are important while you’re pregnant.