What To Eat When You're Pregnant

23/01/2010 10:29 | Updated 22 May 2015

Once upon a time being pregnant used to be pretty simple, probably when our mothers were expecting us. There were very few dos and don'ts and they were even encouraged to drink stout.

Nowadays working out what you can and cannot eat while pregnant is a bit of a minefield. I mean, are peanuts allowed or will they bring out an allergy in your child? And what about alcohol ? Is a little OK or should you have none?

If you suffer from morning sickness, finding something healthy to whet your appetite can be tricky too.

Finding the energy to rustle up something that is healthy and quick can also be hard, especially if you're working or looking after a toddler too.

Healthy eating while pregnant is a lot like healthy eating when you're not: five portions of fruit and veg and a wide variety of foods including plenty of wholegrain starchy food like pasta, bread and rice.

Eating plenty of fibre can help combat constipation while including lots of protein in your diet and dairy foods is recommended. Although being pregnant is a good excuse to indulge, try to avoid sugary food like cakes and biscuits as they lack nutrients.

Apparently research shows that mothers who eat oily fish, such as fresh tuna, mackerel, sardines and trout, are less likely to give birth prematurely but they shouldn't eat more than two portions a week and shellfish and raw fish should be avoided.

Although a lot is down to common sense, such as drinking water to help maintain energy levels, there are a few things to you should avoid or limit such as reducing your coffee intake to four cups a day or switch to caffeine-free alternatives.

One book I found invaluable was Eating For a Perfect Pregnancy, which contains advice on what to avoid as well as examples of healthy food plans. It also spells out how many portions of each food group should be eaten with examples of exactly what a portion is.

It advises to avoid peanuts to reduce the risk of an allergy if you come from a family that suffers from asthma, hay fever or eczema. Patés, cooked-chilled food, ready-to-eat poultry, food containing raw eggs or unpasteurised milk should also not be eaten.

As for drinking alcohol while pregnant - the advice is don't. The baby's liver does not mature until later in the pregnancy so it cannot process alcohol as well as its mother. If you have to, limit it to one or two units once or twice a week.

Supplements of folic acid are recommended, as this is essential for the baby in the first three months but it is hard to get enough from regular eating alone.

One important thing to remember is not to get stressed and certainly not to worry about your changing body shape. There's a theory that it will take your body nine months to grow a baby so you should allow for at least that amount of time to lose any baby weight.

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