Eating a healthy diet during pregnancy
Why it's important to eat healthily while you are pregnant
Eating a healthy diet before and during your pregnancy will help you keep fit and well, and help your baby to develop and grow. You can continue to eat most foods but there are some foods you should avoid or be careful with before and during pregnancy.
It is important to eat a variety of different foods from each of the food groups every day. Use the Eatwell Guide to show you how much of what you eat should come from each food group:
Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, aim to eat at least five portions each day. Try to include a variety of different types and colours. Always wash them carefully before eating.
Bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods
These should be the main part of each meal. Try to eat wholegrain varieties, such as:
wholemeal bread and chapatti
Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins
Eat some of these protein foods every day. Make sure eggs and all meat products are well cooked. Try to include two portions of fish each week, one of which should be an oily fish, such as sardines. See which fish and meat to avoid.
Dairy and alternatives
Aim for two to three servings of these foods every day as they are good sources of calcium. A serving is:
one glass of milk
one carton of yoghurt
small piece of cheese.
Choose low-fat options if you can, as they still contain the same amount of calcium. See which cheeses to avoid.
Foods and drinks high in fat and sugar
You should eat only small amounts of these foods. It is important to have some fat in your diet, choose unsaturated oils and use in small amounts.
Healthy eating tips
Eat regular meals: try to include breakfast, lunch and an evening meal every day.
Choose healthier snacks: if you feel hungry between meals, choose fresh fruit, low fat yoghurt, breakfast cereal with milk or toast instead of crisps, cakes or chocolate.
Drink plenty of fluids: try to include six to eight glasses a day, avoiding too much tea or coffee or sugary soft drinks.
If you are worried about your weight, look at the hints and tips that might help you gain or lose a few pounds.
Get vouchers for healthy food
If you are pregnant, or you have a child under four years old, you could get Healthy Start vouchers to help buy some basic foods.
Who is eligible
You qualify for Healthy Start if you’re at least 10 weeks pregnant. or have a child under four years old. and you or your family get:
- income support, or
- income-based jobseeker’s allowance, or
- income-related employment and support allowance, or
- child tax credit and has an annual family income of £16,190 or less
- universal credit (with a family take home pay of £408 or less per month).
You also qualify if you are under 18 and pregnant, even if you don’t get any of the above benefits or tax credits.
If you are claiming universal credit and are pregnant, or have a child under four years old, call the Healthy Start helpline on 0345 607 6823 (9am–5pm Monday to Friday) for more information about the Healthy Start scheme.