What diet to follow if you’re pregnant

16 March 2016

If you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy, it’s important to pay attention to what you eat. Ignore any fads and follow a varied, balanced, healthy diet.

You should note the following points, bearing in mind the changes that your body undergoes during a pregnancy:

Follow a healthy diet.

The proper diet during a pregnancy is not very different to a normal healthy adult diet. It should be rich in complex carbohydrates (pasta, rice, pulses), with plenty of wholewheat cereals, fruit, vegetables, fish, fibre and water, but low on animal fats.

Folic acid.

This vitamin is key for brain and spinal cord development, so expectant mothers need to make sure they get enough. You’ll find it in tomatoes, beetroot, peas and spinach.


Pregnant women need about 1,000 mg of calcium a day, which is equivalent to about 3 glasses of milk or 4 yogurts. Calcium is vital for forming bones and teeth. If mothers don’t get enough, the foetus will take it from the mother’s own bones, making them weaker.


During a pregnancy, the volume of blood increases, and with it demand for iron, rising from 15 mg a day to almost double. Anaemic mothers will feel weaker and are more likely to suffer infections. Iron is easier to absorb from red meat than vegetables, although it helps to accompany vegetables with protein and vitamin C.

Omega 3 fatty acids.

Important for brain development and an excellent source of healthy fat. You’ll find them in blue fish (which also add another vital nutrient for pregnancies: protein) and in nuts.

Choose the right fish.

Fish can be contaminated with toxic chemicals, so it’s best to opt for small species, such as red mullet, sea bream, mackerel or sardines.

Watch out for Listeria.

Listeria is a bacteria found in food. The risk of infection for pregnant women is twenty times greater than usual. You should avoid eating raw and smoked fish, undercooked meat, cheeses made from unpasteurised milk, homemade mayonnaise and any recipe with semi-raw eggs. You should also wash all vegetables well.

Cut out all alcohol and cut down on caffeine.

Both substances are passed on to the foetus, which takes longer to eliminate them than adults.

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