What should I eat at Christmas?

Christmas can be a tricky time eating a balanced diet for everyone, but even more so if pregnant. Additionally, the information out there about what you can and cannot eat is often confusing, so even more of a challenge when temptation is everywhere.

Nicky Anstey
Registered Nutritionist

Nicky is a Registered Nutritionist who helps optimise mums’ and babies’ health now and for the future. She aims to help mums optimise energy levels, wellbeing and tackle weight loss safely. She also covers all aspects of weaning, including the different methods; foods to avoid and provide; milk feeding, allergies, practical guidance on when and how to start, all based on the most up to date research out there with the aim to develop children that have adventurous tastes and a healthy relationship with food. For individual advice you can contact Nicky Anstey direct at:

Speak to me on 0905 675 4701, £1.23/min from a BT landline; calls from mobiles and other networks may vary.

What should I be eating whilst pregnant over Christmas with all the overindulgence?

The nutrition your baby receives during the first few years impacts on their health later in life. So what you feed them early on can prevent them getting health problems as they get older.
Babies’ tastes start developing whilst they are in the womb, as what mum eats passes into the placenta. When they take gulps of amniotic fluid they taste those flavours. So tuck into sprouts on Christmas Day and turkey curry on Boxing Day. A great start developing your future foodie’s tastes!

The key to ensuring your unborn baby receives all the nutrients they need is to have a varied, balanced diet, with 400mcg folic acid and 10-50mcg vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D levels are low in a large percentage of the UK population due to reduced sun exposure, especially in Winter, and the fact that we use sunscreen, which stops our bodies making it. Vitamin D helps many important bodily functions, including bone health. Take this supplement, as rickets is now seen in some children. If planning to breastfeed, you need to have good levels before starting and during to pass to your baby. Try to have three meals a day and limit fatty, sugary foods to help prevent putting on weight quickly. The body’s hormone levels alter greatly throughout pregnancy and if the body cannot cope with these changes, it can lead to gestational diabetes in those at risk. So be careful not to munch on too many sweets or drink lots of sugary drinks during the festivities, as sugar levels can soon rise.

If you have sickness, try eating little and often, and enjoy ginger rich foods. Ginger cordials are a tasty Christmas drink!

Are there any foods I should be wary of whilst pregnant during the festive season?

Christmas does happen only once a year, so don’t beat yourself up too much about what you eat but try and pace yourself as large meals are not ideal when pregnant.

Unpasteurised soft cheeses and blue veined cheeses should be avoided. Try swapping for pasteurised soft cheese spreads or hard cheeses. All forms of pâtés should be avoided, even vegetarian ones, as can contain listeria. Uncooked egg, found in homemade mayonnaises, ice creams, sauces and mousses, can contain salmonella.

Cured meats and smoked fish such as salmon are popular at Christmas but be cautious as they can potentially contain listeria. However, currently the UK does not state total avoidance. Additionally, although fish is very good for us, it is important not to eat salmon and other oily fish more than twice a week due to hidden toxins.

Peanuts and nuts are fine so long as there is no family history of allergies, including eczema, asthma, food allergies or hay fever. Remember, your baby eats what you do and is not up to tackling a mass of salt.

Caffeine should be limited to less than 200mg per day during pregnancy. This equates to two mugs of coffee; three cups of tea; a filter coffee, and a can of coke or 50g bar of chocolate.
It is unknown what level of alcohol is safe but Government advice is to avoid throughout pregnancy. Other guidance says to abstain during the first trimester and after that one to two units per week has not generally been shown to be harmful.

What healthy snacks would you suggest for the whole family?

Nuts are a great snack to stop you feeling hungry and picking on the wrong foods. Please be mindful that these moreish snacks tend to be high in salt, which is not good for anyone. Try a palmful of unsalted nuts and raisins.

Other ideas of light bites include toasted pitta, olives and houmous. Just be careful of olive stones if you have young children. Vegetable sticks, bread sticks, melba toast with spreadable soft cheese or dips are another option but be careful of high fat dips. Try low fat Greek yogurt with mango chutney and a bit of curry paste to spice up your dip. Fruit wedges, dried fruit, Wasabi peas, melon wrapped in Parma ham and cheesy scones are other healthy alternatives.