What you CAN eat during pregnancy

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Information & Advice


What you CAN eat during pregnancy

Pregnancy eating: a handy guide

The recipe for healthy eating in pregnancy

Find out what's on the menu for healthy eating during pregnancy, and a shopping guide to what's not, with expert nutritionist Vicky Pennington

Whether you're trying to manage morning sickness, curb the cravings or work out what's best for you and your baby to eat, food is often on your mind when you're pregnant.

The good news is that if you already eat a healthy balanced diet, you shouldn't have to change too much about your diet - just a few small tweaks should hit the spot. However if you feel you could be healthier, pregnancy is the ideal time to make some changes. Boots nutritionist Vicky Pennington has some bite size advice on what's best to eat during pregnancy, to help you and your baby to get all the nutrients you need.


Vicky's top pregnancy foods

1. Fabulous Fish

Fish is good for both you and your baby, providing you choose the right varieties and cook them properly. Say yes to oily fish like salmon and mackerel because it contains Omega 3, which support babies normal brain and eye development.

  • Only eat oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel a maximum of twice a week, as it can contain pollutants which although only low levels, are not healthy for your growing baby
  • Tuna is a popular choice, but limit it to two steaks or four medium-sized cans per week
  • Common varieties such as sole, cod, haddock and plaice are also good choices
  • Not the exotic: avoid the more unusual fish such as marlin and swordfish because they contain high levels of mercury

Sea food and eat it: Shellfish such as prawns are okay as long as they are well-cooked. But steer clear of uncooked shellfish like oysters.


2. Get fruity..

And vegetabl-y! There are no limits to the amount of fruit and vegetables you can eat and remember to try and get five portions every day. So, why not have some fun and try new varieties or recipes: Just make sure you wash them thoroughly first.

Top tip: Almost 40% of pregnant women experience constipation at some time or another during pregnancy 1 . Help keep things moving with lots of fruit and veg, drink plenty of fluids (at least six to eight glasses) a day and choose high fibre foods such as wholemeal bread.


3. A meat feast

Like fruit and vegetables there is no limit to the amount of lean meat and chicken you can eat when you're pregnant, providing it is properly cooked. Just follow these three simple guidelines:

  • Avoid all paté, liver and liver products
  • If you are going to barbecues, ask whoever is in charge of the tongs to check your meat is thoroughly cooked for you
  • Always remember to wash your hands after handling raw meat

4. Dairy delights

Dairy products can stay firmly on the menu, as long you follow some simple guidance:

  • Cheeses to choose: There are many types of cheese you can still enjoy - hard cheeses like Cheddar, Red Leicester, Wensleydale and Edam are all fine, as are cheeses like Stilton, Parmesan and Mozzarella
  • Cheeses to lose: Avoid mould-ripened soft cheeses such as Camembert, Brie and Goat's Cheese (Chévre) as well as soft blue-veined cheese such as Danish Blue and gorgonzola
  • Always check if you are unsure, especially when you're eating out

5. Egg-cellent

Eggs can be eaten during pregnancy as long as they are thoroughly cooked, which means that both the white and the yolk should be solid. This is because raw or undercooked eggs carry a risk of salmonella


6. Snack attack

They'll probably be times when you feel ravenous. If you fancy a snack in between meals go for something healthy; swap crisps, sweets or chocolate for chunks of fruit, handfuls of dried fruit or low fat fruit yoghurt.

Myth-buster: Pregnancy can be seen as a time to indulge yourself and your hunger pangs, but (sadly, you may say) this isn't necessary. You only need an additional 200 calories per day and that's only in the final trimester - that's about two extra slices of toast!


7. Thirsty work

Here's the very latest guidance on what you should and shouldn't be drinking during your pregnancy.

  1. Caffeine: You shouldn't have more than 200mg of caffeine per day - remember that a mug of instant coffee is approximately 100mg.

    Caffeine is not just found in hot drinks like tea and coffee but also in soft drinks and energy drinks, so check the label

    Some medicines also contain caffeine. Always check with your Boots pharmacist before taking any medicines

  2. Alcohol: Remember, if you drink alcohol, your baby does too. It's really important to avoid alcohol, especially during the first 3 months of your pregnancy. If you choose to drink after that, drink no more than 1 or 2 units once or twice a week

    If you are concerned that you were drinking alcohol before you knew you were pregnant, please talk through your worries with your midwife or healthcare professional

  3. Water: Water helps you absorb the nutrients in your food and helps to flush out waste from your kidneys. It also helps to keep skin hydrated so it's good for you on the inside and outside.

    Keep hydrated and drink plenty of fluids during your pregnancy, at least 6 to 8 glasses each day.



Our Expert says

"It's not all about what you can't eat, you'll be surprised to find out what you can! Stick to the four main food groups and make sure food is healthy and safe to eat."
Vicky Pennington, Boots Parenting Club Nutritionist

What's off the menu - a handy shopping guide

Use this handy little checklist of foods to avoid when you're pregnant. Pop it on your fridge door or in your handbag and you won't get caught out when you're food shopping or eating out.


  • Unpasteurised milk, including goats' or sheep's milk
  • Mould-ripened soft cheese or soft blue-veined cheese
  • Raw or undercooked eggs, including homemade mayonnaise
  • Rare or undercooked meat
  • Pate
  • Liver and liver products
  • Shark, marlin and swordfish
  • Raw shellfish
  • Sushi (containing fish which hasn't been frozen first)
  • Green-sprouting potatoes
  • Unwashed fruit, vegetables and salad with visible soil on them
  • Alcohol, especially in the first 3 months of pregnancy


Read more like this:
The ABC of pregnancy vitamins
Top tips for an active pregnancy
Pregnancy symptoms

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The recipe for healthy eating in pregnancy
Find out what's on the menu for healthy eating during pregnancy, and a shopping guide to what's not, with expert nutritionist Vicky Pennington
Whether you're trying to manage morning sickness, curb the cravings or work out what's best for you and your baby to eat, food is often on your mind when you're pregnant.
The good news is that if you already eat a healthy balanced diet, you shouldn't have to change too much about your diet - just a few small tweaks should hit the spot. However if you feel you could be healthier, pregnancy is the ideal time to make some changes. Boots nutritionist Vicky Pennington has some bite size advice on what's best to eat during pregnancy, to help you and your baby to get all the nutrients you need.
1. Fabulous Fish
Fish is good for both you and your baby, providing you choose the right varieties and cook them properly. Say yes to oily fish like salmon and mackerel because it contains Omega 3, which support babies normal brain and eye development.
  • Only eat oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel a maximum of twice a week, as it can contain pollutants which although only low levels, are not healthy for your growing baby
  • Tuna is a popular choice, but limit it to two steaks or four medium-sized cans per week
  • Common varieties such as sole, cod, haddock and plaice are also good choices
  • Not the exotic: avoid the more unusual fish such as marlin and swordfish because they contain high levels of mercury

Sea food and eat it: Shellfish such as prawns are okay as long as they are well-cooked. But steer clear of uncooked shellfish like oysters.
2. Get fruity..
And vegetabl-y! There are no limits to the amount of fruit and vegetables you can eat and remember to try and get five portions every day. So, why not have some fun and try new varieties or recipes: Just make sure you wash them thoroughly first.
Top tip: Almost 40% of pregnant women experience constipation at some time or another during pregnancy 1 . Help keep things moving with lots of fruit and veg, drink plenty of fluids (at least six to eight glasses) a day and choose high fibre foods such as wholemeal bread.
3. A meat feast
Like fruit and vegetables there is no limit to the amount of lean meat and chicken you can eat when you're pregnant, providing it is properly cooked. Just follow these three simple guidelines:
  • Avoid all paté, liver and liver products
  • If you are going to barbecues, ask whoever is in charge of the tongs to check your meat is thoroughly cooked for you
  • Always remember to wash your hands after handling raw meat
4. Dairy delights
Dairy products can stay firmly on the menu, as long you follow some simple guidance:
  • Cheeses to choose: There are many types of cheese you can still enjoy - hard cheeses like Cheddar, Red Leicester, Wensleydale and Edam are all fine, as are cheeses like Stilton, Parmesan and Mozzarella
  • Cheeses to lose: Avoid mould-ripened soft cheeses such as Camembert, Brie and Goat's Cheese (Chévre) as well as soft blue-veined cheese such as Danish Blue and gorgonzola
  • Always check if you are unsure, especially when you're eating out
5. Egg-cellent
Eggs can be eaten during pregnancy as long as they are thoroughly cooked, which means that both the white and the yolk should be solid. This is because raw or undercooked eggs carry a risk of salmonella
6. Snack attack
They'll probably be times when you feel ravenous. If you fancy a snack in between meals go for something healthy; swap crisps, sweets or chocolate for chunks of fruit, handfuls of dried fruit or low fat fruit yoghurt.
Myth-buster: Pregnancy can be seen as a time to indulge yourself and your hunger pangs, but (sadly, you may say) this isn't necessary. You only need an additional 200 calories per day and that's only in the final trimester - that's about two extra slices of toast!
7. Thirsty work
Here's the very latest guidance on what you should and shouldn't be drinking during your pregnancy.
  1. Caffeine: You shouldn't have more than 200mg of caffeine per day - remember that a mug of instant coffee is approximately 100mg.
    Caffeine is not just found in hot drinks like tea and coffee but also in soft drinks and energy drinks, so check the label
    Some medicines also contain caffeine. Always check with your Boots pharmacist before taking any medicines
  2. Alcohol: Remember, if you drink alcohol, your baby does too. It's really important to avoid alcohol, especially during the first 3 months of your pregnancy. If you choose to drink after that, drink no more than 1 or 2 units once or twice a week
    If you are concerned that you were drinking alcohol before you knew you were pregnant, please talk through your worries with your midwife or healthcare professional
  3. Water: Water helps you absorb the nutrients in your food and helps to flush out waste from your kidneys. It also helps to keep skin hydrated so it's good for you on the inside and outside.

    Keep hydrated and drink plenty of fluids during your pregnancy, at least 6 to 8 glasses each day.

What's off the menu - a handy shopping guide
Use this handy little checklist of foods to avoid when you're pregnant. Pop it on your fridge door or in your handbag and you won't get caught out when you're food shopping or eating out.
  • Unpasteurised milk, including goats' or sheep's milk
  • Mould-ripened soft cheese or soft blue-veined cheese
  • Raw or undercooked eggs, including homemade mayonnaise
  • Rare or undercooked meat
  • Pate
  • Liver and liver products
  • Shark, marlin and swordfish
  • Raw shellfish
  • Sushi (containing fish which hasn't been frozen first)
  • Green-sprouting potatoes
  • Unwashed fruit, vegetables and salad with visible soil on them
  • Alcohol, especially in the first 3 months of pregnancy
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