What to eat when expecting twins

How should your nutritional diet change now you're expecting twins? We explain which extra vitamins and minerals will give your twins the best start during pregnancy

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Congratulations – you’re expecting twins, twins, twins!

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Being pregnant with twins puts extra demands on your body, so paying attention to your diet will have lasting health benefits for you and your twins. It’s one of the most important steps you can take to give your twins a good start.

The list of foods to eat and avoid are the same as with single pregnancies, but there are some special needs to consider when you’re expecting twins.

You want a diet that’s balanced, yet varied, meeting your increased nutritional needs. Expecting twins isn’t an excuse to ‘eat for three’, but it’s certainly not a time to diet.

You should try to eat little and often to maintain early weight gain. Carry healthy snacks with you throughout pregnancy.

Your protein needs are greater to cope with the demands of growing twins inside you. Make sure you include protein at every meal or snack.

  • Yoghurt, cheese or (well-cooked) egg at breakfast.
  • Cheese or houmous with snacks.
  • Adding meat, fish, poultry, tofu, beans or pulses to salads and soups.

Anaemia is common when expecting twins, so include red meat, dark green leafy veg, fortified cereal and pulses to maintain your iron stores.

One of the easiest ways to up your nutrient intake when expecting twins is to avoid processed foods. Prepare dishes from scratch rather than buying ready-meals. Aim to eat several portions a day of:

  • Fruit and vegetables – essential vitamins, minerals and fibre content.
  • Dairy – provides calcium and protein. Aim for five portions daily.
  • Bread, rice, pasta – provides carbohydrates for energy, as well as fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. Choose unrefined wholegrain products rather than white refined options.
  • Meat, poultry, fish, eggs – for protein, iron and vitamins B12 and D.

Make sure you drink plenty of fluids. As with all pregnancies, not just with twins, alcohol is best avoided and caffeine limited.

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Experts say you’ll need 50%-100% more of the essential nutrients, such as folic acid, vitamin B12, iron and calcium, with twins. While the best way to get these is through food, nutritionists and some midwives recommend a daily pre-natal vitamin and mineral supplement. If you decide to take one, tell your healthcare provider. Up to the 12th week of pregnancy, all pregnant women should take 400mcg folic acid daily to lower their baby’s risk of neural tube defects. Eat plenty of folate-rich foods too, such as dark green leafy veg and fortified breads and cereals.

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