Pregnant? Find out why it's important to know your food groups

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Variety is the spice of life and the key to a healthy pregnancy diet

Food groups chart

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In order to maintain a healthy diet during pregnancy you should try to eat foods from all food groups. Here are some examples of what you should try to include.

Fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables contain lots of vitamins, minerals and fibre which helps digestion and prevents constipation. In order to get your 5 a day, try to include them in each meal. Remember that frozen, canned, dried and juiced fruit and veg still count as well as fresh.

Starchy foods
Starchy foods provide energy, nutrients and some fibre. Bread, cereals, potatoes, rice, couscous and pasta are all good foods to include in moderation as part of a healthy diet, but try to eat wholemeal varieties of bread, brown rice and pasta instead of processed (white) ones.

Milk and dairy products
Dairy products are a good source of calcium, which helps with your baby's bone development. They also contain vitamin A, which helps the body resist infections. Try to include semi-skimmed or skimmed milk and low-fat yoghurt and half-fat hard cheese in your diet. Avoid soft, ripened and blue veined cheeses during pregnancy.

Meat, fish, eggs, beans, and other non-dairy sources of protein
Protein and iron help with growth and development. Meat, fish, eggs, pulses (for example, beans, lentils and peas) and foods made from pulses (such as tofu, hummus and soya mince) are good sources of protein and iron. Include one or two portions of oily fish such as mackerel, salmon or sardines each week - these are rich in essential fatty acids and omega 3.

Getting enough iron is important throughout pregnancy. Fortified breakfast cereals, dark green vegetables, broad beans, lentils and dried fruit such as apricots, figs and prunes are all great sources of iron that can be easily incorporated into each meal.

Try to keep fat to a minimum. There are some easy ways to cut down on the amount of fat in your diet - such as;

- Grilling or baking foods instead of frying them.

- During cooking, skim the fat off meat dishes such as mince or curry.

- Buy leaner cuts of meat and lower-fat meat products, such as lower-fat sausages and burgers.

- Take the skin off poultry.

- Reduce the amount of meat you put in stews and casseroles. Make up the difference with lentils, split peas or soaked dried beans.

There are some types of foods you should avoid in pregnancy. For more information on pregnancy health and advice go to
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