What kind of foods should I be eating?

During pregnancy your unborn baby gets all the nutrients they need to grow and develop from you. So, to ensure that you and your baby stay healthy and strong during this exciting period, it is important that you eat a healthy, balanced diet.

The eatwell plate

The eatwell plate below can be used as a helpful guideline for working out whether you are eating the right amount of the different food groups that make up a healthy diet.

tuna salad  

Top tips for a healthy diet

  • Choose a variety of foods from each of the different food groups to make sure you’re getting a good balance 
  • Have 3 regular meals and 2 to 3 light snacks a day
  • If you feel a bit sick you could eat a bit less during meals but have more snacks - just divide the food you would usually eat in a meal into several small portions
  • Include generous helpings of fruits and vegetables, wholegrain cereals and beans to increase your fibre intake
  • Drink water regularly – at least 8 glasses a day
  • Include other drinks in your diet such as low-fat milk, fresh fruit or vegetable juices and soup
  • Eat two portions of oily fish each week (but avoid shark, swordfish and marlin)
  • Use vegetable oils such as olive and rapeseed oil in your cooking instead of butter
  • Limit your intake of processed and preserved foods as they usually contain high levels of salt
  • Reduce your caffeine intake to no more than 2 cups of coffee or 2 mugs of tea a day
  • Limit your intake of sweets, crisps, cakes, biscuits, fats, oils, and sugar. These all provide extra calories but not much of the nutritional value that you and your baby need. Over-indulging now means it will be harder to regain your pre-pregnancy figure afterwards, so try to resist dipping into the biscuit tin too often, instead have a low fat milkshake or smoothie
  • Eating lean meat is also good for your iron level, but make sure it is well cooked
  • Ask your midwife or doctor about extra supplements if you’re worried you’re not eating from a particular food group - folic acid supplements are advised until 12 weeks of pregnancy. Read our key nutrients during pregnancy and the foods to avoid articles to find out more.

Image source: Department of Health

eatwell plate
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