Not sure what food is okay to eat now that you’re pregnant? We’re here to help. Let’s go through the facts so you can come up with a pregnancy meal plan with the best foods and nutrients for you (and the precious little bundle you’re growing!).
Foods to eat while pregnant
Here are some key nutrients (and food sources) that you’ll need to increase during your pregnancy:
|Nutrient||Daily recommended amount during pregnancy||Why it’s essential||Food sources|
|Folate||400 micrograms of folic acid via supplement||To prevent birth defects like spina bifida.||Green leafy vegetables, and as ‘folic acid’ when added to bread/cereal and via your prenatal supplement.|
|Iodine||220 micrograms||To produce thyroid hormone for essential functions.||Seafood, milk, and vegetables.|
|Iron||22mg||To account for the 50% extra blood volume you’ll need.||Red meat, chicken, fish, leafy green vegetables, legumes, and iron-enriched breakfast cereals.|
|Zinc||9mg||To help regulate gene expression.||Lean meat, whole-grain cereals, milk, seafood, legumes, and nuts.|
|Protein||40-70g||To keep up with rapid growth.||Lean beef, pork, beans, chicken, salmon, nuts, peanut butter, and cottage cheese.|
|Vit D||400 iu||For healthy bones and teeth.||Oily fish, fortified margarines, and some breakfast cereals.|
|Vit C||40mg||To form collagen and help absorb iron.||Fruits and vegetables.|
|Calcium||1000 mg||For healthy bones and teeth.||Dairy products, fish with edible bones, breakfast cereals, dried fruit, bread, almonds, tofu, and green leafy vegetables.|
|Fibre||25-30g||To avoid constipation, which is common during pregnancy.||Whole-grain breads, cereal products, legumes, nuts, vegetables, and fruit.|
|Water||2.3L, or to thirst||To help absorb essential nutrients and transport vitamins, minerals, and hormones to the blood cells – and to your baby.||Water!|
Please check with your doctor – nutrient amounts required and appropriate food sources will depend on your family history and circumstances.
Foods to avoid during pregnancy
Some foods (and drinks) are not recommended when you’re expecting, because they come with higher risks for you and baby. It’s best if you avoid:
- Alcohol – risks include miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, fetal alcohol syndrome, and other issues
- Caffeine – limit your intake to 2-3 cups of coffee per day
- Raw egg – presents a higher risk of salmonella
- Raw sprouts and unwashed fruits and vegetables – presents a higher risk of listeria
- Soft cheeses like brie, feta, and ricotta – presents a higher risk of listeria
- Unpasteurised dairy – although dairy products in Australia must be pasteurised before they’re sold, it’s best to check
- Large fish – shark, swordfish, and tuna are high in mercury and best avoided
- Raw fish – risks salmonella, listeria, and other bacteria
- Undercooked or processed meat – rare meat is best avoided when you’re pregnant, as is processed deli meat unless you reheat it until steaming hot
Pregnancy food plan: 7 days of bump-friendly dinners
The following meals are excellent sources of essential nutrients for pregnancy, including protein, fibre, iron, calcium, vitamin c, folate, iodine, and zinc.
Day 1: Healthy Mexican Lasagne
Day 2: Healthy Chicken and Pineapple Fried Rice
Day 3: Roasted Pumpkin Soup
Day 4: Chunky beef and vegetable pie
Day 5: Protein-packed chicken burrito bowl
Day 6: 4 ingredient spinach and ricotta baked chicken
Day 7: Pesto, spinach and ricotta rolls
Get the knowledge, get help, and get healthy!
The best way to choose healthy pregnancy food is to empower yourself with knowledge and get the support you need. So join the biggest mums-only healthy eating challenge in the world, our 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge. And yes, it’s pregnancy-friendly! You’ll get the recipes, information, and support to plan healthy, nutritious, and delicious food for your pregnancy (and beyond – for when you’re ready to start losing weight after pregnancy).