The Department of Health Eatwell Guide - Main Guidelines
- Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day
- Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates; choosing wholegrain versions where possible
- Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks); choosing lower fat and lower sugar options
- Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)
- Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and eat in small amounts
- Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of fluid a day If consuming foods and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar have these less often and in small amounts.
Some Basics of Healthy Eating During Pregnancy
- Starchy food is an important part of a healthy diet and these provide energy for you and for the baby to grow. Choose higher-fibre, wholegrain varieties when you can such as wholewheat pasta, brown rice, or simply leaving the skins on potatoes.
- Wholegrain food contains more fibre than white or refined starchy food, and often more of other nutrients. We also digest wholegrain food more slowly so it can help us feel full for longer plus help to prevent constipation and piles.
- Try to have some milk and dairy food (or dairy alternatives) - such as cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais. These are good sources of protein and vitamins, and they're also an important source of calcium, which are important for the mother's and baby's teeth and bones. Choose low fat varieties when you can as some dairy food can be high in fat and saturated fat, but there are plenty of lower-fat options to choose from.
- Choose foods rich in protein such as lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, beans and nuts. Some of these foods are very good sources of iron. Beans, peas and lentils are good alternatives to meat because they're naturally low in fat and they're high in fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals.
- Aim for at least two portions of fish a week, including a portion of oily fish, as fish is a good source of many vitamins and minerals. Oily fish includes salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel etc. and are important for supplying the baby with the Omega-3 long-chain fatty acids (AA, EPA and DHA) which are essential for development of the eyes and brain. If you never eat oily fish you may think about taking a pregnancy supplement that contains Omega-3.
- Fruit and veg should make up just over a third of the food we eat each day. Aim to eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and veg each day. Choose from fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced. A portion is any of these: 1 apple, banana, pear, orange or other similar-size fruit, 3 heaped tablespoons of vegetables, a dessert bowl of salad, 30g of dried fruit or a 150ml glass of fruit juice or smoothie. Limit the intake of fruit juices, smoothies and dried fruit as they are high in sugar!
- Make snacks nutritious. Snacking is common during pregnancy. However too many indulgent snacks can result in excessive weight gain. Healthier snack choices include: oatcakes, houmous, currant buns, plain yoghurt, vegetable crudités, fresh fruit and nuts. Check the label and avoid foods which are high in fat, salt and sugar!
- Get active and try to maintain a healthy weight. Being active not only helps to moderate weight gain, but also prepares the body for birth. The average pregnancy weight gain is 10-12 kilograms or 22-28lbs. Gaining too much weight can affect your health and blood pressure. But equally, it's important to avoid dieting when pregnant as this can limit the baby's nutrition.
- Drink plenty of water and other fluids, aim to drink 6-8 glasses of fluid every day. Pregnant women dehydrate more quickly than normal and so drinking plenty is important, especially when exercising or if the weather is hot. Water, lower fat milk, fruit juice, smoothies, sugar-free drinks plus tea and coffee all count towards your fluid consumption. However, you should limit your consumption of fruit juice or smoothies due to the high sugar content, and also of tea and coffee as they contain caffeine.
- If you are struggling to eat due to suffering from nausea, you may find that eating little and often is better for you. Or, sticking to relatively bland, starchy foods such as crackers and pretzels can help. It is important to stay hydrated as dehydration can make nausea worse and sipping something like a glass of iced water with lemon can be refreshing.