Healthy eating habits for expectant mums

What is a “healthy” weight?

We take reference from the BMI (body mass index). This can be calculated by your healthcare team – a healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 23.5. Excessive weight is risky for both you and your baby. The more overweight you are, the greater the risks. On the other end of the scale, if you are underweight, it increases the risk of your foetus being small.

Is it safe for me to diet while I am pregnant?

Dieting during pregnancy to lose weight may be harmful to your foetus. If there is any concern about your weight or the weight of your baby, a dietitian may advise you in this area.

Is it safe to eat fish while I am pregnant?

Fish is a healthy option during pregnancy. However, try to eat no more than two portions of oily fish, such as mackerel or salmon, a week. Mercury (a substance found in oily fish) can be harmful to the baby’s development. Pregnant women should not eat more than two fresh tuna steaks or four medium-sized cans of tuna a week, and should avoid swordfish.

Principles of healthy eating while pregnant

  • Meals should be based on starchy foods such as potatoes, bread, rice and pasta, choosing wholegrain if possible.
  • Eat at least five portions of different fruit and vegetables daily.
  • Eat a low-fat diet and don’t increase the number of calories you eat.
  • Consume as little fried food as possible.
  • Avoid sugary drinks and foods such as sweets, cakes and biscuits that are high in fat or sugar.
  • Instead, eat fibre-rich foods such as oats, beans, grains, seeds and brown rice.
  • Take some protein every day, such as lean meat, and try to eat two portions of fish a week. Lentils, beans and tofu are also good sources of protein.
  • Consume dairy for calcium, but choose low-fat varieties such as skimmed milk or low-fat yoghurt.
  • Limit your caffeine intake to not more than two cups of coffee a day. Tea and energy drinks also contain caffeine.
  • Eat a balanced diet, and watch the portion size of your meals. Do not “eat for two”.