Pregnancy Eating Tips

Pregnancy Eating Tips

We saw this on in the UK, and thought it could be helpful for our Dubai Mummies!

From alcohol to sushi, the rules surrounding what to eat when pregnant aren’t always that straightforward. Plus, with a third of expectant mums believing that ‘eating for two’ is an acceptable rule, thought it was high time to do some delving. From the foods you should be avoiding to how to reduce morning sickness through diet, sat down with Helen Ford, Head of Nutrition at Glenville Nutrition Clinics, for the lowdown…

pregnancy eating

First things first – is ‘eating for two’ a myth?

This is absolutely a myth. While you shouldn’t try to lose weight while you’re pregnant, it’s also important not to eat too much. Many women use pregnancy and ‘eating for two’ as an excuse to overeat but the baby only needs extra fuel and nutrients in the final trimester. Instead, you should focus on choosing nutritious foods that will keep your energy up while supporting your baby’s development.

So how many calories does a pregnant woman need?

During the second trimester, you need to increase your daily calorie intake by approximately 300 to 350 per day and in the final third trimester you’ll need about an extra 500 calories per day. However, the emphasis should be on quality not quantity – eat plenty of high-energy foods, such as oily fish which is particularly important for brain development, as well as avocados, nuts and seeds, whole grains, organic natural yogurt and some cheese.

Is it dangerous to gain too much weight when pregnant? 

Over-eating on highly processed, sugary and refined food may put the expectant mother at risk of developing gestational diabetes, plus having a larger sized baby may cause complications during birth. Although it does vary between individuals, the average woman will put on around 12.5kg (27.6lb) during the course of her pregnancy. By the time you reach your due date, just over a third of your extra weight will come from your baby, the placenta and amniotic fluid.

Should we listen to our cravings when pregnant?

Yes – to a certain extent. While the body is very adept at tuning in to what we need, especially during pregnancy, this is no excuse to indulge on sugar and refined carbs. If you are craving sugar, then this could be a sign your diet is lacking in protein or you’re leaving too long in between meals. If you are craving spinach, this could be a sign you’re craving iron; similarly, ice and coal are common cravings, which can signal a nutritional deficiency.

What if we are hungrier than usual, should we eat more?

Absolutely, but as long as it’s the right food. Nuts and seeds, homemade protein balls, fruit and raw carrots, small amounts of organic cheese and natural yogurt are all good, nutritious options for snacking.

pregnancy eating

How can you adjust your diet to ease morning sickness and nausea?

  • Drink plenty of water and/or herbal teas to replenish fluids lost through vomiting
  • Always choose whole grains instead of refined carbohydrates as the latter lack nutrients removed during the refining process.
  • To keep the blood sugar balanced and help prevent blood sugar lows which can lead to nausea, it is important to eat little and often (every two-and-a-half to three hours), including a small snack between meals. All meals and snacks should include a small amount of protein.
  • Maintain good hormonal balance by eating plenty of essential fats (think oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocados and cold-pressed seed oils). Phytoestrogen-rich foods are also great at balancing hormones – incorporate the likes of pulses, natural soya products and fruit and vegetables into the diet.
  • Ginger is fantastic at easing nausea – try a slice of fresh ginger in hot water.
  • Consider a good-quality pregnancy supplement if you are suffering from morning sickness – this will ensure you are obtaining all the nutrients you need.

Is there anything you should avoid when pregnant?

There are several things you should avoid as the immune system is depleted during pregnancy to prevent the body rejecting the growing foetus. You should therefore take extra care to prevent exposure to sources of bacteria that may induce food poisoning; these include…

Reheated rice: A bacterium called clostridium perfringens can be found in re-heated rice as well as rice that has been cooked and left in a warm environment
Soft cheese: Soft cheeses, mould-ripened cheeses, pâté, ready-made chilled meals and ready-prepared salads can contain listeria, which can trigger a spontaneous miscarriage.
Tuna: The likes of tuna and swordfish contain high levels of mercury, which is a toxic heavy metal. You should eat no more than two small cans of tuna per week.
Eggs: Make sure they are cooked through to reduce the risk of salmonella. Avoid foods containing raw eggs such as mayonnaise and some desserts.

What about alcohol?

It is now accepted that alcohol can have serious consequences for the growing foetus so it is advisable not to drink alcohol at all during pregnancy. Similarly, caffeine should be avoided – not only is it a stimulant that can throw your blood sugar out of whack, but it is also an addictive substance, which can be passed onto your baby. Caffeine can also interfere with your body’s absorption of nutrients, especially iron and zinc.

Do you recommend any supplements?

A good-quality supplement will ensure you and your baby are getting a wide spectrum of nutrients. During the first trimester, I recommend NHP Fertility Support, and NHP Ante Natal Support, thereafter, together with vitamin C and omega 3. However, be sure to avoid aloe vera, fish liver oil and the majority of herbal supplements.

pregnancy eating

Helen Ford’s Top Pregnancy Nutrition Tips

Eat plenty of essential fats: Particularly omega-3s, as this helps promote healthy blood flow and are crucial for the baby’s cognitive development.
Don’t forget about iron: The baby has a high iron demand, particularly in the last trimester. Aim for a variety of iron-rich foods – think spinach, watercress, organic meat, beetroot, dried apricots and prunes.
Remember calcium: This is essential as the baby will take the mother’s own supply to form its own skeleton – sardines, sesame seeds and figs are good sources.

Helen Ford, BA (Hons) DipION MBANT CNHC is Head of Nutrition at Glenville Nutrition Clinics.

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