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What Foods Should I Eat When Pregnant?

While you’re pregnant, your body protects and nurtures your baby. You can provide the essential nutrients your baby needs by eating the right foods throughout your pregnancy and while you're trying to conceive. Don’t forget that what you eat today can affect your baby’s health tomorrow.

6 mins to read Nov 5, 2016


Eat a little more… but don’t eat for two

It takes energy to develop a healthy baby and that energy comes from the food you eat. During your pregnancy, your energy demands will increase over time. There is no need to change anything during the first trimester, then second trimester your energy needs will increase by 1400kj/day and 1900kj/day in your last trimester. So it doesn’t mean eating twice as much at all. Having twins? Learn about eating for three.


Eat a varied diet

To get plenty of essential nutrients, eat a little of everything – just steer clear of the what to avoid eating when Pregnant.

  • Adopt the 5/2 rule
  • Have five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit per day.

TRY: Fresh fruit on cereal for breakfast, lots of salad vegetables for lunch, an apple and vegetable sticks as snacks, and lots of cooked vegetables at dinner.


Eat foods that satisfy you

Wholegrain cereals, legumes and pasta are high in fibre and will help bulk up a meal.


Eat breakfast

Can you really not get anything down in the mornings? Opt for a sandwich containing protein (chicken, tuna, etc.), vegetables (lettuce, tomatoes, etc.), dairy products for calcium and bread (preferably wholegrain). Finish with a piece of fruit.


  • 1 cup of milk with wholegrain cereal and some dried fruit + 1 large glass of freshly squeezed orange juice + 1 cup of coffee or tea
  • 1 cup of tea + 1 natural yoghurt with 1 sliced kiwifruit + 2 slices of lightly buttered wholegrain toast


Allow yourself one or two balanced snacks per day

Eat them during the morning and/or afternoon. Don’t gorge yourself on sugary foods; opt for cereals, fruit and protein.


  • 1 cereal bar + 1 apple
  • 1 slice of wholegrain bread + 1 small piece of cheese + a few strawberries
  • 1 portion of natural yoghurt + 1 apple or small serve of hard cheddar cheese + some fresh fruit cubes.


Drink water

Drink about 9 cups (2.3L) of fluid per day while you are pregnant. Opt for water rather than carbonated beverages and sugary drinks.


Eat fibre to keep you regular

Try prunes, wholegrain cereals, wholegrain bread, almonds, dried apricots, plus cooked green vegetables, which are easier to digest than raw. Fibre assists with alleviating constipation, a common symptom of pregnancy.


Eat leafy green vegetables

You can help to prevent one of the most common types of birth defects – neural-tube defect – by consuming enough folic acid before and during your pregnancy. Folic acid is essential for the development of your baby’s nervous system. It is found mainly in fruit and vegetables (especially leafy green vegetables), legumes, nuts, fortified breads, cereals and juices. A supplement may be prescribed to women who want to have a baby.


Get plenty of protein

In a healthy diet, protein is essential – usually supplied by meats, chicken, fish, beans, milk and eggs. It’s the number one building block for your growing baby’s muscles, ligaments, hair, fingernails, bones, brain tissue, blood and other tissues.


Feed yourself calcium for bones and teeth

Your calcium needs are up to 1000 mg per day during pregnancy. Consuming plenty of milk and milk products will help prevent calcium from being taken from your bones as your baby’s skeleton develops. It’s important to take in vitamin D (through sunlight exposure) with calcium-rich foods to help your body absorb them.


Pump up your iron

Fatigue, reduced resistance to colds and infections often result from iron deficiency. To ensure you’re getting enough iron, consume  a healthy diet that includes lots of iron-rich foods, such as lean meats (especially red meats) and green leafy vegetables, as well as an iron supplement, if your doctor recommends one. Iron is the main constituent of haemoglobin, bringing oxygen to the cells.  Your requirements are 27 mg per day during pregnancy.


Get your vitamin C

Vitamin C helps your immune system function properly and improves iron absorption. To get enough of it, eat fruit and vegetables every day.


Eat the freshest food you can

Buy fruit and vegetables as fresh as possible. Eat them as soon as you can, as their vitamin and mineral content declines after they’re picked. Protect them against air and light or store them at the bottom of your refrigerator. Wash them well before eating, but don’t let them soak, as vitamins will leach out. To preserve the nutrients, use gentle, rapid cooking methods, such as steaming and braising, or try using a pressure cooker or wrapping in foil.


Indulge yourself a little

It’s a special time and you should enjoy it. So give in to some of those cravings – just make sure you watch your diet overall.



  • Ignore the pregnancy diet no-nos.
  • Believe everything people tell you – unless it’s a healthcare professional.
  • Listen to common pregnancy nutrition myths that might stop you from enjoying your meals or eating healthily.
  • Snack on fatty and sugary foods.
  • Eat too many pastries, sweets and other high calorie foods that don’t provide many essential nutrients. They are of little nutritional value for you or your baby – and they could make you put on too much weight.
  • Skip meals – Your body needs three proper meals a day. Breakfast is the most important; otherwise your energy levels will drop at mid-morning, leaving you with cravings. If you’re really struggling to get something down, try drinking a large glass of fruit juice when you wake up and taking your breakfast to the office and eating it at around 10am. Keep it simple: try an apple, some biscuits or a piece of dry toast and some dried fruit.
  • Snack erratically – With three balanced meals and one or two snacks per day, you will avoid nipping out to the pastry shop.
  • Get wired on caffeine – its okay to drink a little coffee and tea, but try to keep it to a minimum and stay off the energy drinks. Put some lemon into your water, for example, to give it more taste without adding calories.
  • Obsess about your weight – The best indicator of how well your pregnancy is progressing is your weight. Your doctor will monitor it to make sure you are on track to gain the recommended amount of weight. By putting on healthy weight, you’ll improve your chances of having a full-term baby that’s healthy.