For some reason, when the topic of foods to eat while pregnant is served up, a good dollop of body shaming is often added as a side…. “Don’t eat this. Don’t eat that. Don’t eat too much!” It’s way past time that we changed up the conversation.
First, there is no one way to have a pregnancy diet. Sure, there are some foods to avoid. Sure, nutrition is important to support you through these 9 months (and beyond). But eating while pregnant doesn’t have to be that complicated.
Fortunately, there are a bunch of delicious foods that do the double-duty of keeping your body strong while also keeping your tastebuds happy.
Let’s start at the very beginning.
In this article: 📝
- What should I eat during my first trimester of pregnancy?
- What is the best food to eat during pregnancy?
- What should you avoid when pregnant?
What should I eat during my first trimester of pregnancy?
The first trimester can be tough on your relationship with food. Your body may not be loving some of your usuals, and nausea and vomiting may be an everyday occurrence. Plus, fatigue can make it hard to put together a healthy meal.
So, what to do? Be gentle. Eat small meals if that feels better for you. Broadly speaking, think nutrient-rich, balanced meals, and you’ll likely check off all your nutrition boxes over the course of a few days.
- Nutrient-wise, here’s what to seek out:
- Folic acid (Vitamin B9)
- Vitamin C
(These are good at any stage of pregnancy but particularly when you’re kickstarting the whole operation.)
And if you’re like, wow, that sounds like a whole lot of work, don’t worry. We’ll take you through some meals that up the nutrient intake.
A prenatal supplement also does wonders. Ask your doctor for advice if you need help choosing a prenatal vitamin.
What is the best food to eat during pregnancy?
So here’s the deal. The best foods to eat while pregnant have so much to do with your specific preferences and how your body is feeling as you move through this insanely awesome (awesomely insane) journey.
If you’re feeling fresh out of ideas for options, don’t stress. You have enough on your plate right now.
Here are some healthy foods to eat while pregnant:
- 1. Avocado and hard cheese sandwich on whole-grain bread. Avocados are an excellent source of nutrition—including folate. Cheese has protein and calcium. And whole grain bread has fiber. It also gives you an extra dose of B vitamins.
- 2. Dried fruit and nuts trail mix. Packed with vitamins and minerals, this can be an awesome in-between snack. Pre-package a mixture to take with you when you leave home. And yes, if you’re struggling with constipation, that dried fruit can really help you move things along.
- 3. Yogurt and berries. Yogurt helps you meet those calcium requirements (while also offering a range of other nutrients) and berries are high in all sorts of wonderful things, including folates and vitamin C. They also help keep you hydrated. A perfect anytime-of-the-day snack.
- 4. Kale and chicken salad. Again, that folic acid thing. Kale has it in spades. Add some chicken to the mix and you have a pretty magic dose of nutrition right there. And if you don’t eat meat, try:
- 5. Lentil soup. Guess what? We’re going to talk about folate again. (So predictable.) Lentils are also loaded with it. Add some veggies to your lentil soup and you’ll have a nutrition powerhouse on your hands.
- 6. Scrambled eggs with (cooked) salmon. Yes, delish. Both ingredients offer you a dose of protein. Eggs swoop in with vitamins and minerals that are great for your baby’s brain development, and the salmon adds omegas to the party. Only caveat? Ensure that everything is cooked really well.
- 7. Buddha bowl with chickpea and sweet potato. A buddha bowl is a rather miraculous invention because you can put pretty much any plant-based wonders into it. Chickpeas (those folic acids again) and sweet potato (a good source of various nutrients, including the antioxidant beta carotene) are a wonderful duo.
- 8. Taco bowl with black beans. Did someone say tacos? Black beans offer so much in the way of nutrition—protein, fiber, iron, calcium, zinc, and folate. Also, add some guac to the mix. Remember the part about avocados being so nutritious?
- 9. Vegetarian stir fry with quinoa and broccoli. Quinoa is a bit of a wonder grain because it contains a fair deal of protein. Plus magnesium and vitamins—and, of course, some much-needed fiber. Broccoli has all the goods—folate (hey, there it is again), fiber, calcium, and antioxidants.
- 10. Grilled cod with a side of colorful veggies. Fish has omegas, protein, vitamins, and iron. Veggie wise? Go for whatever is feeling good to you at the moment. Leafy greens, yams, carrots—they’re all great. Of course, grill the fish well and wash the veggies thoroughly.
- 11. Chicken curry. If you love spicy food, go ahead. It’s safe for you and your baby. Be warned though—you may have some added heartburn and indigestion afterward.
- 12. Quinoa pasta with veggie sauce. If you’re craving pasta, quinoa is a good option because it adds a bit of extra protein and fiber to the mix. A sauce with added veggies will help up the nutrient intake.
- 13. Fruit salad. Include all your favorites—bananas, berries, apples, oranges, mangoes… they can all make the cut.
- 14. Dark chocolate. Yes. Yes. Yes. You can have chocolate throughout your pregnancy as a treat. Dark chocolate in small amounts may actually be beneficial. It can help lower your blood pressure and is rich in antioxidants. (Because chocolate doesn’t have much nutritional value, there are some risks in eating too much of it, so the idea here is more “treat” than “meal.”)
What should you avoid when pregnant?
Sadly, there are some foods you’ll need to avoid while pregnant. It generally comes down to that which will make you or your baby sick. Certain foods could expose you to parasites and bacteria, such as listeria and salmonella, which can be harmful to both of you.
Here are some of the main culprits:
- Raw food
- Processed or undercooked meat
- Unpasteurized dairy products
- Unwashed produce
- Food that has a high mercury content
One food that’s come under scrutiny lately is hummus. There’s a chance that eating hummus when pregnant may expose you to listeria—it’s small, but it exists. If you have the energy to make your own hummus, you should be fine. And if you do buy pre-packaged, eat it soon after purchase.
But with all the ideas here for good foods for pregnant people, hopefully you won’t even miss that sushi or Italian sub. Bon appetit, mama!
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