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A healthy pregnancy

A healthy, balanced diet both before conception and during pregnancy will help give your baby the best start in life.  Waitrose Nutritionist, Nicola Selwood, shares her top healthy eating tips for pregnancy

Make fruit & vegetables your 'go to' snack - eat more than five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and ensure you wash produce thoroughly.

Choose starchy foods at each meal, to provide energy and nutrients.  Opt for wholegrain where possible to increase your fibre intake. 

Protein is essential for growth. Include lots of beans, pulses, nuts, eggs, lean meat, poultry and fish (limit oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and pilchards to 1-2 portions per week)

Aim for 3 servings of calcium rich foods per day.  Great sources include dairy products, green leafy vegetables and nuts.  Vitamin D is vital for calcium absorption - most is made in the body by the action of sunlight on our skin but you can also find it in eggs, oily fish and fortified breakfast cereals. 

Omega-3 fatty acids are important during pregnancy and breastfeeding as they play a pivotal role in the development of the baby's nervous system.  Oily fish is an excellent source but limit to 1-2 portions a week if you are trying to conceive, pregnant or breastfeeding. Vegetarian and vegan sources include linseed and rapeseed oils and walnuts.

Folic acid supplements are recommended if you are trying to conceive and in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to limit the risk of neural tube defects.  In addition, include foods in your diet that are naturally high in folic acid like green leafy vegetables, brown rice and foods that have been fortified with folic acid, such as breakfast cereals.

Your iron needs increase during pregnancy so choose plenty of iron-rich foods like red meat, green vegetables, fortified breakfast cereals, beans, pulses, nuts and dried fruits. Vitamin C helps with the absorption of iron from food, so serve fresh fruit or juice with iron-rich food. 

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Healthy snacks

Snacking on healthy snacks can help keep energy levels up, but opt for healthy snacks and cut down on fatty, sugary snacks like cakes and biscuits

 

Nicola's top 5 healthy snacks for pregnancy

- Fresh or dried fruit

- Vegetable sticks eg carrots, peppers, cucumber with houmous

- Low-fat yogurt with fresh fruit

- Wholemeal toast with nut butter

- Glass of milk or milkshake made with fresh fruit

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Foods to limit & avoid

There are a few foods that have to be avoided or limited when pregnant but you'll be glad to know the list is not long.  Here's a quick summary but for more information, visit  NHS choices

Avoid:

- food and supplements high in vitamin A including liver, pate and fish oil supplements

- mould ripened soft cheese and soft blue cheese (these cheeses can be eaten if cooked)

- shark, marlin and swordfish (not available at Waitrose)

- raw shellfish

- raw and undercooked meat

- cured meats (although can be eaten if frozen first)

- alcohol - experts recommend avoiding alcohol if you are pregnant

Limit caffeine - no more than 200mg which is equivalent to: 2 mugs of instant or filter coffee, 3 mugs of tea or 5 cans of cola.

Did you know, that as long as the eggs you eat have the Lion code stamp, they can be eaten undercooked or raw?

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