The 12 Best Foods to Eat When You’re Pregnant (And 12 Foods to Avoid)
Food, food, and more food!
The automatic thoughts on any preggo’s brain, the day often revolves around taming cravings.
But, doctors urge expecting mommies to be careful of not just their calorie consumption, but the ingredients in some of the foods they consume too.
You see, you are what you eat.
Yes, this sounds cliche, but you are directly responsible for nourishing yourself and your growing baby. So, why not ensure they are getting the best vitamins and nutrients possible?
If you’re new to the pregnancy game, what you should and should not eat may be a mystery to you.
So, read on to learn about the 12 best foods to eat when you’re pregnant, and the 12 foods you should certainly avoid.
12 Awesome Pregnancy Foods
Eggs are awesome for expecting mommies to eat because they are contain a good quantity of protein. Plus, they contain more than 12 vitamins and minerals, so your baby will benefit from every bit of them since they are growing at a super speedy rate.
Choline is also abundant in them, which helps your baby grow and protects them from neural tube defects.
You can amp up your egg game and look for a dozen that are DHA enriched, so your baby’s brain and vision development will benefit.
Many pregnant women have an aversion to fish, but if you can stomach it, go for some salmon. Salmon is full of protein, omega 3-fats (also known to be a mood booster), and is low in mercury (just be sure to avoid exceeding 12 ounces per week).
Make sure it is cooked well, and you can make it more flavorful by adding lots of lemon and spices; but sweeten it up with a dash of organic syrup!
Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart! You know how the rest of the saying goes.
Beans have lots of fiber so you’ll stay regular when it counts! It also has lots of nutrients and vitamins, like iron, folate, calcium, and zinc.
I often got so bored with eating the same foods when pregnant. But, the great thing about beans is that they fall into a broad category.
You can eat kidney beans, black beans, lima beans-even chickpeas. Try to incorporate a heaping handful at least daily.
Eat them straight from the can, toss them on a salad, or add them to your favorite chilli dish.
4. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes—not just a side dish. They are also an amazing snack!
Sweet potatoes provide your pregnant body with a lot of Vitamin A. They are also high in Vitamin C, folate, and fiber.
They kept me totally full, and also helped me choose them over regular baking potatoes.
So, eat them solo, turn them into baked fries, or add some beans on top for a filling, healthy orange treat!
5. Whole Grains
Whole grains are great for expecting moms to consume because they provide another source of fiber besides beans. They are also rich in Vitamin E, selenium, and grains like quinoa has a ton of protein in it.
You can also get creative when making whole grains by adding shrimp, seasonal veggies, and rich avocado. Whole grains are great to add to soups, and if you’re craving pasta, you can opt for whole grain noodles.
Oh, nuts! Certainly one of my favorite pregnancy snacks, nuts (especially walnuts) are a great source of omega 3’s. Many also contain plenty of protein and fiber, making them a great on the go-snack.
At first, I had a hesitation when consuming peanuts, but studies now show that children are less likely to have a nut allergy if their mother ate them during pregnancy.
I also found that when I felt nauseous during my first trimester, a handful (with a huge gulp of water) made me feel much better. So, chow down and get nutty!
7. Greek Yogurt
I used to sneak a lot of yogurt into my diet so it would satisfy my craving for ice cream. It has twice the protein of regular yogurt, and a good dose of probiotics and calcium.
I learned how important it is to get enough calcium because most of it goes to the baby, so I didn’t want to end up depleted. Purchase it plain, add some berries, a squirt of organic honey, and you have one very sweet (but healthy) treat.
I had a really hard time eating kale raw. I knew how good it was for me, but I literally could not choke it down no matter what I paired it with, or how I prepared it.
However, I didn’t want to deprive my body from all the good folate I’d be missing out on, so I tossed a hearty handful into my morning smoothies with a bunch of berries to take some of its intense taste away. You can, too!
Again, I often didn’t crave meat, but I made sure I had a healthy portion at least once a week. Whether it was beef tacos or crock pot pork chops, consuming meat gives you plenty of protein and iron, which keeps you strong.
Can’t do beef? Eat plenty of chicken and turkey—they too are high in protein, and lean on fat.
10. Raw Fruit and Veggies
It was hard, but I passed on the chips and pretzels, and lunged for an apple, orange, or carrot. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with essential vitamins and nutrients, so I felt good about eating clean and giving my growing baby everything he needed.
I only went organic, despite the added expense in my grocery bills, because the risk of consuming harmful pesticides was just not worth it in my book.
I could not get enough avocado when I was pregnant! It was just so creamy and delicious. It also reaped serious health benefits.
It’s loaded with good fats, so I enjoyed adding a slice to my morning eggs and in my tuna salad to replace the mayo!
I loved popping dates toward the end of my pregnancy. Not only are they high in fiber, potassium, and iron; they are said to help start cervical dilation-yes, please!
12 Pregnancy Foods You Should Avoid
1. Hot Dogs and Lunch Meat
Doctors tell their pregnant patients to pass on processed meats, like hot dogs and lunch meats. They can contain a harmful bacteria called listeria and other bad for you parasites.
Some doctors are a little more lenient and they tell their patients to eat organic lunch meat, in very small amounts, sparingly throughout pregnancy.
And, they also advise if you choose to eat them, they should be heated until steaming, but in my opinion, it’s just not worth it!
2. Raw Meat
Bye, bye sushi! Eating uncooked seafood or undercooked beef or chicken can contain a form of bacteria that is very harmful not just to yourself but your growing baby.
If you are craving sushi, consider ordering a vegetable roll, or a roll that contains fully cooked fish!
3. Certain Fish
Some fish are fine to eat (in small doses). Others are simply not ok.
This is because they contain a dangerous level of Mercury. Avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish.
Canned tuna is ok to eat in moderation, but it still contains a low level of mercury. So, limit your tuna intake to no more than twice a week.
4. Smoked Seafood
I absolutely craved a bagel with cream cheese a lox one day when pregnant, so I indulged!
When one of my girlfriends saw me consume my craving, she scolded me! I was made aware the smoked seafood is to be avoided if expecting.
I learned that they could be contaminated with listeria. If it was cooked, it would have been a different story, but a general rule of thumb is to avoid any fish in the deli section in the grocery store.
5. Raw Shellfish
Say no to oysters, clams, and mussels. This is a total bummer if you’re pregnant predominantly during summer months, when this type of food is mainly enjoyed.
But, better safe than sorry! You could fall victim to algae-related infections, which can threaten your pregnancy. Stick to small amounts of cooked shrimp to satisfy your seafood cravings.
6. Raw Eggs
Raw eggs can increase your risk of salmonella. So, say no to homemade caesar dressings, homemade mayo, and homemade ice creams or custards.
Items like commercially manufactured ice cream or even eggnog that is sold in stores are ok, because they are made with pasteurized eggs.
So, if you are dying for a cesar salad, you can check the salad dressing label in the store to make sure all ingredients are pasteurized, rather than whipping up your own.
7. Soft Cheese
This was a major bummer in my book. I can’t think of a day I didn’t consume a soft cheese in some way, shape, or form. But, soft cheeses like brie, camembert, feta, queso, roquefort, and gorgonzola could contain listeria.
However, if any of these cheeses are pasteurized, you are good to go.
Always read the labels first. If you are also dining out, you’ll be surprised to find that most restaurants only offer pasteurized soft cheeses, so speak up-you may be able to dig into the queso dip!
8. Unpasteurized Milk
Don’t chance anything. Listeria is not a pregnant person’s friend!
Always opt for pasteurized milk. There has been some controversy in the past about raw milk because some believe that it contains better for your vitamins and nutrients, and pasteurizing the milk removes those good for you things.
But, the overall verdict is that it’s just too dangerous not to drink anything unpasteurized.
And in my opinion, it’s just not worth the risk.
If you have the stomach to even consume pate, you still might want to refrain from it.
This high end spread may also contain the bacteria, listeria if it is a refrigerated version.
But, if pate is one of your dinner staples, canned pate or other shelved meat spreads are ok, in small doses.
Give. Me. My. Coffee. That is how I literally felt my entire pregnancy.
While drinking a little is ok, it’s still not recommended, especially during your first trimester in order to avoid the risk of miscarriage. If you plan on drinking just a cup each day, you should be fine.
However, drinking more than that can eliminate too many fluids from your body since caffeine is a diuretic. It’s hard, but cut back!
11. Deep Fried Foods
They are tasty and tempting, but consuming too many fried foods can turn into trouble for your tummy!
So, try to avoid fast food restaurants, fries, pizza, and pierogies.
I know, all the good stuff!
Excess sugar can lead to unnecessary weight gain, which isn’t helpful to mom or baby.
While a small sugary snack is fine every once in awhile, it should not be consumed daily because it could raise the risk of diabetes.
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Eating for two can be pretty difficult!
You want to make sure you give your growing baby the best foods possible so they can develop perfectly. Be sure to use this guide to plan meals and pack snacks, but also to make yourself aware of what you should avoid.
You are responsible for your food and drink choices and you need to take care of yourself and your baby throughout your entire pregnancy!