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Health Dietary

What to eat / not eat during pregnancy

02 May 2024 - Written by  Rosie Letts

What to eat / not eat during pregnancy

Rosie Explores what you should eat, and what you shouldn’t eat during your pregnancy, busting some common myths along the way.

A nutrient dense and well balanced diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle at any time but is especially vital if you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy. Eating healthily during pregnancy will help your baby to develop and grow. You do not need to go on a special diet, but it’s important to eat a variety of different foods every day to get the right balance of nutrients that you and your baby need. This article will explore what you should eat, and what you shouldn’t eat during your pregnancy, busting some common myths along the way.


Vegetables and fruit:

You should try to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables daily whilst pregnant to provide the vitamins, minerals and fiber that your body needs. Fresh and frozen vegetables are best, and if you struggle to eat enough, you can sneak them into smoothies and soups.


You need to eat extra protein during pregnancy, although your exact daily requirement depends on your body weight and activity levels. Good animal protein sources include meat, fish, eggs and dairy products. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you will need to be especially careful to ensure that you eat enough protein, which can be obtained from beans, pulses, nuts and seeds. One easy way to ensure optimal protein intake is to include tasty sides such as Tilda Indian Black Dahl or Tilda Chinese Black Bean.

Whilst often classified as a carbohydrate, rice is one of the highest quality protein sources available.


Grains such as basmati rice, quinoa, wild rice, whole wheat pasta and oats are an important source of

energy, vitamins (including folic acid) and minerals, which are all essential for your baby’s physical
development. Eating rice and other whole grains during pregnancy can help to keep you feeling full, without containing too many calories.

Wholegrain Basmati rice is rich in insoluble fibers and is a low glycemic index food. Thus, wholegrain Basmati rice regulates your blood sugar levels and helps mitigate gestational diabetes. Eating wholegrains regularly can also help to alleviate constipation and hemorrhoids.

Tip: I find it incredibly useful to keep Tilda steamed rice pouches at home to pair with protein and salad or vegetables. It’s so convenient to have a top quality carbohydrate source on hand and ready within two minutes. Tilda steamed rice is low sodium and doesn’t contain any artificial colours, flavourings or preservatives, making it a perfect choice for pregnant women.


Myth 1: You can’t eat cheese when you are pregnant.

Actually most cheeses, especially hard and pasteurized cheeses like Parmesan, Romano, and Cheddar, are perfectly safe to enjoy during pregnancy. However, you should avoid unpasteurized cheeses (as well as unpasteurized milk and other dairy products) and soft ripened cheeses, including brie, gorgonzola, and camembert. There’s a small chance that unpasteurised or soft ripened dairy products may contain Listeria bacteria, which can cause an infection called listeriosis.

Myth 2: Fish and seafood are unsafe during pregnancy.

It is true that certain fish should be avoided during pregnancy because they contain mercury at a level which could be harmful to your unborn baby. High mercury fish to avoid include shark, marlin and swordfish. Tuna is safe to eat in pregnancy, but you shouldn’t have more than two portions weekly. You can eat sushi and shellfish as long as they have been cooked thoroughly. You can continue to enjoy most oily and white fish such as Salmon, Haddock, Cod, Mackerel, Sardines, Trout and Tilapia safely throughout your pregnancy.

Eating fish is safe and beneficial during pregnancy because fish provide key nutrients to support your baby’s growth and development. However, you should limit oily fish to two portions weekly. This includes salmon, trout, mackerel or herring. You should also eat no more than two tuna steaks (about 140g cooked or 170g raw) or four medium-size cans of tuna (about 140g when drained) per week.

Myth 3: Eggs must be well cooked during pregnancy.

Soft boiled eggs used to be off the menu for pregnant women, but after extensive research, the Food Standards Agency has updated its guidelines. Pregnant women may now eat raw or lightly cooked hens eggs as long as they bear the British Lion mark. This means that everything from Eggs Benedict to pasta carbonara can now be safely enjoyed whilst pregnant! You can still eat eggs that are not British Lion, or not from hens, but make sure the whites and yolks are cooked thoroughly. Otherwise there is a risk of salmonella which can cause food poisoning.



Liver and liver products such as pâté or liver sausage can have large amounts of vitamin A. This can be harmful for your baby. All types of pâté, including vegetable versions, can have listeria in them, so it’s best to avoid them.

Game meat:

Game meat such as hare, partridge and pheasant are likely to be contaminated with lead, and so should be avoided during pregnancy. Always make sure any meat you eat is well cooked and steaming hot all the way through.

Cured meats:

Cured meats such as salami, pepperoni, chorizo and prosciutto are not cooked, so they may have parasites in them that cause toxoplasmosis. Avoid cured meats unless they are thoroughly cooked.



The NHS advises to limit your caffeine intake to no more than 200 mg per day. Regularly drinking more than this amount can increase your risk of pregnancy complications, such as low birthweight, and even miscarriage. A mug of tea has around 75 mg of caffeine, a cup of instant coffee has around 100 mg of caffeine and a filter coffee has around 140 mg of caffeine. Energy drinks and coffee shop coffee’s  can often contain more than 200 mg of caffeine so they should be avoided completely.


Be careful with raw fruits, vegetables and salads as they can have soil on them, which can make you unwell. Make sure to thoroughly wash all fruits, vegetables and salad ingredients before use.