What to eat when you are pregnant

What to eat when you are pregnant: learning to feed your new family starts with learning to feed yourself


There is a lot of pressure to do the right thing when you’re pregnant. It really can be overwhelming, especially when there is so much information out there on what you can do and what you can’t. And of course let’s not forget the people who enjoy sharing their opinions, even when it was not asked for. The simplest way to keep healthy during this important time is to get to grips with how to nourish and fuel your body. Combine this with having a healthy relationship with food. Choose foods that make you feel energetic and well and give yourself flexibility to enjoy a few treats without guilt, making sure you don’t feel deprived.


We are a big fan of Dubai’s top Health and Wellness Coach, Heidi Jones.  As she is currently 6 months pregnant, we asked her to give us some tips to share with our followers that might give you some inspiration and options to help improve your health before or during pregnancy.


Diet tip 1- Get a healthy relationship with food

If you haven’t already, start to build a healthy relationship with the food you eat. When you are pregnent, your priority is growing a healthy well nourished baby, not weight-loss or sticking to a diet plan. It’s time to switch your mind-set on how you look at food. For example, for years you may have looked at what has the lowest calories or considered food as ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Now is the time to focus on choosing foods that nourish your body and provide quality nutrients to your growing baby.


Creating new eating habits takes time, therefore it’s important to gradually change your diet over time. Don’t aim to do it all at once, as this can leave us feeling overwhelmed, deprived and craving all the things we’ve cut out. The approach I use in my health coaching practice is called crowding out. This is where you add foods into the diet instead of taking foods away. Start by adding in an extra portion of nutrient dense food to what you would normally eat. For example, if you love pasta, add a portion of fresh vegetables to it; if you want a burger, have it and add a portion of cooked vegetables to the side.  Overtime the more nourishing foods you add to your plate the more they will crowd out the foods that don’t serve you or your baby.


Diet tip 2- Don’t be afraid of carbs!

Doctors suggest increasing your carbohydrate intake during pregnancy by 150-175g (600-700 calories). This supplies energy for fetal brain, sparing protein to be used for growth and not for energy.  I didn’t need to be told to increase my carb intake, as soon as I was pregnant my body instantly craved carbohydrates! Carbohydrates are also a great source of fibre keeping your digestion healthy. Integrate whole food nutrient dense sources such as oats, brown rice, brown pasta, wholemeal breads, legumes, dark green vegetables and fruits on a daily basis to ensure your baby is getting what it needs.


Diet tip 3- Increase protein

Experiment with protein and increase by 25g (100 cals) a day. There are many options for adding more protein into your diet. Each supplies a new range of nutrients to your body and baby.

Choose from;

Lean meats, poultry, fish (though some fish is highly recommended to avoid, check with your doctor or midwife).

Plant proteins including; legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

Eggs, dairy and dairy substitutes.


Diet tip 4- Eat healthy fats

Incorporate healthy fats into your daily diet to support your baby’s growth and development. The brain has a high fat content and normal development requires high quality omega-3 and omega-6 fats. You can get sufficient omega-6 in lean meat, poultry, eggs, nuts and seeds. Quality sources of omega-3’s are in high quality oils such as flaxseed and walnut oil (do not heat), nuts and seeds, fish including mackerel, wild caught salmon, herring and sardines. You can check in on this with one of the Health at Hand doctors, and you may also want to supplement with a high quality EPA/DHA ratio.


Diet tip 5- Increase your calorie in-take

The rule of thumb for calorie in-take is your energy (calorie) needs are greater than non-pregnant women.  All parts of your baby are made from the nutrients provided by you. This is either from the food you eat or you own body. In the second trimester, the general recommendation is +340 calories extra a day. In the third trimester it is +450 calories a day, if you are physically active then even more is recommended. However there is no need to eat for two!!


You may be worrying about weight-gain. Don’t, you will gain weight and it’s an important part of the journey. How much weight-gain depends on your weight at the start of your pregnancy. Again if this is confusing, reach out to one of the Health at Hand doctors, your OBGYN or your midwife to discuss what’s a recommended a healthy weight gain for you during  pregnancy.


Diet tip 6-  Drink caffeine in moderation

Caffeine – this is totally dependent on how your body reacts to caffeine, if you know you do not react well to caffeine then stay clear. Most people can manage 1-2 cups a day whilst they are pregnant if they choose to drink it.


Diet tip 7- Avoid certain foods

The foods to avoid list by your doctor is backed by research, if you feel deprived shift and finding it difficult to stick to, it’s time to change your mind-set. There are plenty of foods you can eat during the 9 months that do not link to harming your baby. Remember it’s 9 months not forever!

Health at Hand doctors can help you navigate the comprehensive list of foods to be avoided and they can also clarify why these foods are to be avoided. Give them a call if you have any concerns for some peace of mind.


Diet tip 8- Limit sugary food

Limit the amount of processed and sugary foods you eat by using the crowd out approach. These foods are lower in nutrients and therefore will limit the amount of nutrients you are providing your body and baby. It’s ok occasionally to eat a sweet treat as long as you are mostly choosing nutrient dense foods on a day-to-day basis.

As with anyone (pregnant or not) there are 4 basic rules that lead to a healthier lifestyle these are:


  1. Drink plenty of water.
  2. Eat real foods more often than not.
  3. Move daily in ways that feel good.
  4. Sleep well every night.


You know your body best and it’s time to trust your instincts, you can do this!


Get support in creating healthier habits pre-pregnancy or during pregnancy and prepare yourself physically, mentally and emotionally for the exciting times ahead of becoming a mother. Please get in touch with Heidi. Heidi is an Advanced Integrative Health Coach and new mama to be! Contact and visit

If you want have any concerns and want a quick chat with a doctor, the Health at Hand doctors are ready to take your call (a much better option than looking things up on Google!). Sign up today