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What to eat and avoid during pregnancy

Eating while pregnant doesn’t need to be confusing. Just keep in mind a few key basics about your baby-growing diet.

A balanced baby diet

Eating while pregnant doesn’t need to be confusing. Just keep in mind a few key basics about your baby-growing diet.

As if nausea and cravings aren’t enough, pregnant women also have to be cautious about the kind the food they consume over the nine months.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the foods you should go for and some you shouldn’t while you’re growing your little one.

Load your plate

As well as a good prenatal multivitamin, pregnant women should strive for a well-balanced diet.

The Better Health Channel says mothers-to-be should try to eat:

  • Lots of fruit and vegetables, wholegrain breads and cereals
  • Moderate amounts of low-fat dairy foods and lean meats
  • Small amounts of foods high in fat, sugar and salt
  • Lean meat, chicken and fish (make sure it is low in mercury)
  • Dried beans and lentils
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Green leafy vegetables

Women should also eat food that is rich in:

  • Folate e.g. asparagus, broccoli, spinach, chick peas — wheat bread in Australia is also fortified with folate
  • Iron e.g. red meats
  • Iodine e.g. seafood, seaweed, well-cooked eggs, meat and dairy

Steer clear

There’s a definite list of foods you shouldn’t consume while pregnant, particularly those known to carry a high risk of listeria — a food-borne bacteria that can cause food poising.

NSW Health’s recently re-released pregnancy guide, Having a Baby, says “Listeria is commonly found in the environment including on plants and in animal faeces, soil and water. Listeria can grow even when foods are kept in the refrigerator, but is killed by cooking or reheating food to steaming hot.”

The State Department also recommends avoiding the following food items that are known to be at higher risk of carrying the bacteria:

  • Unpasteurised dairy products, e.g. soft or semi-soft cheese (they’re okay if they’re in a cooked dish) 
  • Cold cooked chicken
  • Cold processed meats
  • Pre-prepared salads
  • Raw seafood
  • Soft serve ice cream
  • Paté

Eggs or egg products can be consumed during pregnancy but only if they have been well cooked (raw egg products like fresh mayonnaise are not okay). The same goes for meat which should be cooked until it is no longer pink and juices run clear.

Fish that is high in mercury such as shark, swordfish, broadbill, marlin, deep sea perch and catfish should be rarely consumed or not at all.

Pregnant women also shouldn’t drink alcohol during the nine months.

More healthy pregnancy reads

Tips to stay fit while pregnant
How to survive a summer pregnancy
Early signs of labour

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