Pregnancy and Nutrition: What to Eat, What Not to Eat

In this quick read, we share with you the nutrients you should pack on for the next 9 months, and everything good and bad for you and your growing little one!

What to eat & how much?

Extra calories should be coming from nutrient-rich food to provide expecting mothers with the vitamins and minerals needed for the growth and development of the baby. Snacks are fine as long as they do not displace the other nutritious food in your diet. It is highly recommended that you try to find alternatives to reduce your intake of high-calorie snacks.

When discussing portion sizes, fruits and vegetables should take up half of your plate. Whole grains should take up a quarter with the last quarter being lean protein. It is also recommended to pair a dairy product with every meal.

Food to Eat!

1) Fruits

Fruits are low in calories and filled with fibre, vitamins and minerals. When craving sugar, fruits are a great substitute for cakes and cookies to satiate your sweet tooth. Medical professionals encourage eating two to four servings of fruit daily.

Generally, one serving of fruit is:

  • One cup of cut fruit or

  • A whole fruit the size of a tennis ball

Some nutrients may be missed out on when drinking fruit juice. On the other hand, dried fruit tend to contain higher sugar density. As much as possible, try to have fruits as fresh as they can get!

Some fruits to add to your grocery list are:

  • Oranges

  • Mangoes

  • Avocados

  • Apples

  • Lemon

  • Berries

  • Banana

2. Vegetables

Vegetables are a rich source of vitamins, energy, fibre and minerals. It is recommended to have four to five servings of vegetables each day.

One serving of vegetable is:

  • ½ cup of raw or cooked vegetables

  • ½ cup of vegetable juice

  • 1 cup of leafy greens

Including healthy greens into your diet can be made fun and interesting such as baking or grilling them with a dip of your choice. Otherwise, vegetable soups or pasta dishes would make for an appetising and hearty meal!

Some vegetables to incorporate in your daily meals are:

  • Sweet potato

  • Tomato

  • Beetroot

  • Broccoli

  • Green peas

  • Kale

  • Spinach

3. High Carbohydrate Food

Other than being an important source of energy in a pregnant woman’s diet, high carbohydrate food is also packed with fibre, iron and B-vitamins.

High carbohydrate food includes:

  • Whole grains

  • Oatmeal

  • Whole-wheat pasta

  • Potato

  • Bread

  • Brown rice

4. Protein

Expecting women should include good protein sources in every meal to support the baby’s development.

Food high in protein are:

  • Meat

  • Fish

  • Eggs

  • Beans

  • Tofu and soy products

  • Cheese

  • Milk

  • Nuts

  • Seeds

  • Quinoa

5. Fats

As reported in the Journal of Physiology, a high-fat diet may genetically program the baby for diabetes in the future. As such, fats should not make up more than 30% of a pregnant woman’s diet.

Fats can be sourced moderately from:

  • Olive oil

  • Peanut oil

  • Sunflower oil

  • Sesame oil

  • Canola oil

  • Avocado

  • Nuts

  • Seeds

6. Fibre

During pregnancy, women are at a higher risk of developing constipation. Indulging in more fibre minimises that risk as well as the risk and severity of haemorrhoids. Increasing fibre intake helps with reducing hunger. Low fat yet high-fibre snacks are good for satiating sudden pangs of hunger in between meals too!

These are some good sources of fibre:

  • Lentils

  • Nuts

  • Red bell peppers

  • Kale

  • Oats

  • Quinoa

  • Dried fruit

Food to Limit On!

Caffeine & White Tuna

Caffeine should be consumed in moderate amounts of less than 200mg per day - a safe amount for pregnant woman.
While salmon and sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids that are good for the heart, white tuna should be limited to no more than 6 ounces a week. High levels of mercury are found in white tuna and can be harmful to a baby’s developing brain.

Food to Avoid!

Alcohol, Raw & Unpasteurised Food

Alcohol can pass from mother to baby and cause undesirable outcomes. Drinking alcohol, especially in the first 3 months of pregnancy, brings about risks such as:

  • Miscarriage

  • Stillbirth

  • Premature birth

  • Brain damage

  • Problems with growth and development

  • Heart defect

  • Hearing problem

  • Vision problem

  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

  • Low birthweight

Fish containing high levels of methylmercury in the deep-sea is toxic to the formation of a developing fetus’ neurological system.

Unpasteurised food such as soft cheeses and liver pates are much more prone to Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria causing listeriosis, which has a close linkage to miscarriages and stillbirths.

Raw and undercooked food contains a variety of food-borne bacteria and viruses. Changes in metabolism and circulation of blood during pregnancy may increase the chances of bacterial food poisoning. It has also been noted that the reaction may be more severe as compared to when you were not carrying.

Now that you have a better understanding of what’s good and not good…

It is perfectly normal to worry about whether or not you are taking in enough nutrition for both yourself and your baby. For a start, following the above guide is a good place to begin with.

It is important that you speak to a trusted medical practitioner if you still have qualms about not getting enough of a particular vitamin or mineral. Together, you will be able to work out a proper nutrition plan that is tailored to both you and your baby’s needs.

For more articles like these, head on to our blog for weekly updates. You got it, Mommy! ✨👼🏻


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