Ideal Healthy Diet for Pregnant Women


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A healthy diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle at any time, but especially vital if you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy. Healthy eating keeps you feeling good and gives your baby the essential nutrients they need in the womb.

Overall, aim for a balanced diet, with an appropriate blend of all the 5 food groups:

  • vegetables and legumes
  • breads and cereals
  • milk, yoghurt and cheese
  • meat, poultry, fish and alternatives

Fruit

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Aim to drink plenty of water every day — most town water contains fluoride, which helps your growing baby’s teeth develop strong enamel. Some water supplies, such as tank water, do not have fluoride.

You will probably find that you are more hungry than usual, but you don’t need to ‘eat for 2’ — even if you are expecting twins or triplets. It is more important to concentrate on the quality of the food you eat rather than the quantity.

Eating healthily often means just changing the quantities of different foods you eat so that your diet is varied, rather than cutting out all your favourites. For example, if you have a healthy breakfast every day it is easier to avoid snacking on foods that are high in fat and sugar.

You should also avoid certain foods because they are not healthy or they can be dangerous for the baby.

You will need to be careful with your diet if you develop gestational diabetes — your doctor or midwife will advise you.

Fruit and vegetables

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Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables because these provide vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre, which helps digestion and prevents constipation. Eat a variety of fruit and vegetables a day — these can be fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced. Always wash them carefully. Cook vegetables lightly in a little water, or eat them raw but well washed, to get the benefit of the nutrients they contain.

Starchy foods (carbohydrates)

Starchy foods are an important source of vitamins and fibre, and are satisfying without containing too many calories. They include bread, potatoes, breakfast cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, maize, millet, oats, sweet potatoes, yams and cornmeal. These foods should be the main part of every meal. Eat wholemeal instead of processed (white) varieties when you can.

Protein

Foods containing protein help the baby grow. Sources of protein include meat (but avoid liver), fish (however, avoid fish that is high in mercury such as shark/flake, marlin or broadbill/ swordfish), poultry, eggs, beans, legumes/beans and nuts. Eat some protein every day. Choose lean meat, remove the skin from poultry, and cook it using only a little fat.

Make sure eggs, poultry, pork, burgers and sausages are cooked all the way through. Check that there is no pink meat, and that juices have no pink or red in them. Try to eat 2 portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily fish such as sardines or mackerel.

Dairy

Dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yoghurt are important because they contain calcium and other nutrients that your baby needs. Choose reduced-fat varieties wherever possible. There are some cheeses that should be avoided — see Foods to avoid.

Healthy snacks

If you get hungry between meals, don’t eat snacks that are high in fat and/or sugar, such as sweets, biscuits, crisps or chocolate. Instead, choose from the following nutritious snacks:

  • sandwiches or pitta bread filled with grated cheese, grilled chicken, mashed tuna, salmon or sardines and salad
  • salad vegetables, such as carrot, celery or cucumber
  • low-fat yoghurt hummus with bread or vegetable sticks
  • ready-to-eat apricots, figs or prunes
  • vegetable and bean soups
  • unsweetened breakfast cereals, or porridge, with milk
  • milky drinks or unsweetened fruit juices
  • fresh fruit
  • baked beans on toast or a baked potato

These are some ideal and healthy food options for pregnant women.

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