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Top tips for a healthy diet during pregnancy

18 June 2018

Maternity Nutrition and dietetics
Specialist obstetrician Dr Joo P Teoh together with Midwifery Manager Emma Cook provide some tips on what to include in your diet and what to avoid during pregnancy.

Top tips for a healthy diet

  • Variety is key. Base your meals on starchy foods that are satisfying without too many calories such as potatoes, bread, rice and pasta. Wherever possible, choose wholegrain as a healthier option.
  • The healthy five-a-day rule is recommended. Try to eat at least five portions of different fruits and vegetables each day and keep in mind potatoes do not count as a vegetable.
  • Avoid fried food as well as drinks and foods high in sugar such as sweets, cakes and biscuits.
  • Enjoy fibre-rich foods such as oats, beans, lentils, grains, seeds, wholegrain and wholemeal breads and pastas.
  • We recommend eating protein such as lean meat every day.
  • Try to include two portions of fish each week into your diet. We do not recommend having more than two portions of oily fish such as mackerel, salmon or tuna in a week due to the presence of mercury. Fish such as shark, swordfish or marlin contain even higher amounts of this metal, so are to be avoided.
  • Low-fat dairy is a good source of calcium.
  • We always hear the term ‘eating for two’, however this is not recommended!
  • We encourage you to always eat breakfast to start your day.
  • For coffee lovers – we don’t recommend more than 200mg of caffeine per day, which is the equivalent to two mugs of instant coffee. 

What foods to avoid during pregnancy

  • Liver as it contains high levels of vitamin A.
  • Unpasteurised milk, soft cheese, pate and undercooked food. These foods put you at risk of listeriosis which is a serious disease for pregnancy women.
  • Avoid partially cooked eggs found in mayonnaise or mousses.
  • Reduce your risk of salmonella by avoiding raw or undercooked meat all together.

Other tips to keep healthy

  • A simple tip is to always wash your hands while handling food and wash all fruit and vegetables.
  • If you are a keen gardener, wear protective gloves while handling soil. Cat owners should also wear gloves if cleaning out cat litter to avoid the risk of toxoplasmosis.

How much weight can I expect to gain during my pregnancy?

According to Joo, healthy weight gain can be calculated by your Body Mass Index (BMI) before pregnancy. The below table is a helpful indicator of recommended weight gain during pregnancy.

BMI before pregnancy   Recommended weight gain
 <18.5  15.5kg - 18kg
 18.5 - 24.9  11.5kg - 16 kg
 25 - 29.9  7kg - 11.5kg
 >30  At least 7kg but not much higher
 Twins   16 - 20.5 kg
Dr Joo Teoh - Obstetrician and Gynaecologist

Dr Joo Teoh has extensive experience as a Specialist Obstetrician and Gynaecologist in the UK. He is also a UK subspecialist in reproductive medicine and surgery. While in the UK, Dr Teoh was also the chairperson for the national trainees in reproductive medicine and surgery.

Dr Teoh has a special interest in looking after and delivering obstetrics patients, especially for women who have complicated obstetric histories such as miscarriages or polycystic ovarian syndrome. He prides himself on providing patient-centric care and support throughout treatment or pregnancy, and feels strongly about giving each of his patients the time and attention they require.