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The Key to a Balanced Diet

Now that you are pregnant, eating a balanced diet is likely to become a greater focus than before you were pregnant. Here are a few tips to help you eat well.

What should I eat?

Eat your meals at regular intervals. If you often feel hungry, try having several smaller meals rather than three large main meals a day.

Go for a balanced and varied diet that includes:

  • Milk, yogurt and cheese - for their high protein and calcium content.
  • Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes and nuts for protein and iron – lean red meat is a particularly good source of iron.
  • Breads, cereal, rice, pasta, noodles – these are all rich in energy-giving carbohydrates.
  • Fruits and vegetables - particularly green leafy vegetables, which contain folic acid and dietary fibre.
  • Some fat in the form of plant oils, margarine and fish (fresh or canned) – for vitamins A, D, E and K and essential fatty acids.
  • Small, occasional treats - for your pleasure.

A daily supplement of folic acid (0.5 mg) is recommended up to the 12th week of pregnancy. Speak to your doctor or health care professional for more information on this.

Food safety during pregnancy

When you are pregnant, you are slightly more vulnerable to illness from bacterial contamination. One such bacterium is called Listeria. Listeria from contaminated food can be extremely harmful to your unborn child.

To reduce your risk of getting ill from poor food hygiene practices, remember to always wash:

  • Raw vegetables, salad ingredients, fruits and herbs.
  • Any food that has been in contact with the earth.
  • Your hands before handling food and before meals.

Be particularly careful to:

  • Eat only freshly prepared foods.
  • Thoroughly cook meat, poultry and fish.
  • Respect "use by" and "best before" dates.
  • Regularly clean your cooking utensils, cutting boards and refrigerator.
  • Refrigerate foods like vegetables, salads, meat products and dairy products immediately after they have been purchased.

Also remember to:

  • Keep raw food separate from cooked food (or food which does not require cooking), to avoid any contamination from one food to another.
  • Watch the temperature of your refrigerator - it must not exceed 5°C. Install a fridge thermometer.
  • Keep hot food piping hot (above 60°C) and cold foods cold (below 5°C).

The following categories of food are most frequently contaminated with listeria and should therefore be avoided during pregnancy:

  • Pâté.
  • Pre-packed sliced meat products.
  • Cooked diced chicken (as used in sandwich shops).
  • Soft cheeses such as Brie, Camembert and ricotta.
  • Pre-prepared salads & coleslaw, including salads from salad bars.
  • All unpasteurised dairy products (e.g. unpasteurised milk).
  • Raw seafood (e.g. oysters, sashimi, sushi), uncooked smoked fish (e.g. smoked salmon) and smoked shellfish (e.g. smoked oysters – canned are safe).