healthy eating for pregnancy

Eating well while you're pregnant is the best way to give your baby a good start in life. You don't need to go on a special diet, but you should include a healthy variety of wholesome proteins, carbs and greens.[1]

Here's our guide on what not to eat during pregnancy and what you can eat.

eating well for your pregnancy diet

what not to eat during pregnancy

Finding out you’re pregnant might mean changing your diet a little but you can still eat many of your favourite foods. That being said, there are some products you should definitely avoid to keep you and your baby healthy. To make things easy for you, here’s what not to eat during pregnancy and why.

Blue cheeses like Stilton, mould-ripened cheeses like Brie and unpasteurised cheeses like artisan cheddar can cause listeria,[2] which is a really dangerous bug. Pâté (even veggie versions) is another culprit. Too much vitamin A can hurt your baby, so you'll need to avoid anything with liver in it. Rare meat and runny eggs can cause salmonella and toxoplasmosis,[3] so cook them fully.

If you fancy some seafood, steer clear of swordfish, shark and marlin as they're quite high in mercury. And of course, it's best to avoid alcohol altogether.

foods to eat during pregnancy

The not-so-good news for foodie mamas is that you don't have to eat for two. No, not even if you're expecting twins. Sorry! You'll only need to eat a little more than you normally would. You should choose plenty of foods with the minerals and vitamins that your little one needs to develop.

Having a healthy breakfast can help you to avoid mid-morning cravings, and opting for low-GI foods that release their energy slowly helps your blood sugar (and energy levels) stay stable all day.

healthy eating for pregnancy

Lean meats like chicken breasts are a fantastic source of protein, and they're low in fat too. Try to have fish twice a week, with an oily fish like mackerel or salmon on one of those days.

It’s best to eat some protein every day, and lots of fresh veggies and fruit. As well as being jam-packed with essential nutrients, they're full of fibre to battle pesky pregnancy constipation.[4] Wholegrain bread, brown rice and potatoes with the skins on are also good for a bit of extra fibre.

i'm hungry all the time – what should i snack on?

We know it's tempting to reach for crisps and sweets when that mid-afternoon slump hits, but when you're pregnant it's better to avoid food that's high in fat, salt and sugar.

Hummus with crunchy carrot dippers makes a good snack. Try mashed avocado on a wholegrain cracker (instead of cheese or pate), and for a sweet treat top a dollop of Greek yoghurt with chopped almonds and dried figs. Don’t feel bad about the occasional indulgence, though – it won’t hurt as long as you’re eating healthily most of the time.

what should i eat when breastfeeding?

Similarly to the fertility diet, plenty of wholegrains, fruit and veg and protein should be your focus when you're breastfeeding.[5] The only new thing is to drink lots of fluids: water and skimmed (or semi-skimmed) milk are ideal, so try to sip some while your baby feeds.

Caffeine can pass to your baby through your breast milk and give them trouble sleeping, so it’s a good idea to limit your intake to less than 300mg a day.


[1]. Healthy pregnancy diet, NHS, January 2017

[2]. Can I eat cooked brie and blue cheese during pregnancy? NHS, February 2018

[3]. Toxoplasmosis, NHS, August 2017

[4]. Constipation in Pregnancy, Baby Centre, [Accessed May 2019]

[5]. Diet for a Healthy Breastfeeding Mum, Baby Centre, March 2017