If you’re concerned about what foods to eat to keep you and your baby healthy while you’re pregnant, that’s totally normal. Don’t worry — it’s easier than you think once you know which foods to prioritize.
Good nutrition during pregnancy can help ensure that your baby gets the best start possible. The meal plan is a balanced one that provides lots of:
- complex carbohydrates
- healthy types of fat
- vitamins and minerals
- fiber and fluids
A healthy pregnancy eating pattern contains much of the same balance of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients as healthy eating patterns in general.
The difference is that you need higher amounts to compensate for all the work your body is doing and baby’s additional needs.
If you already have healthy eating habits, it shouldn’t be too hard to make slight adjustments to ensure a healthy pregnancy. And if you’re starting from scratch on healthy eating? Not to worry — there are lots of healthy and yummy options.
Balance and variety
If you’re pregnant, you only need to consume about 300 calories more per dayTrusted Source.
The old adage that you need to “eat for two” doesn’t mean that you double your intake: The key is moderation and working with your healthcare team to find the right calorie and nutrition goals for you.
Whenever possible, eat complex carbohydrates, such as:
- whole grain breads and pastas
Limiting their tempting but lower fiber, nutritionally deficient cousins, the simple carbs:
- white bread
- excess added sugar
Your protein needs increase considerably during pregnancy and peak during your third trimester.
To ensure you’re getting enough protein throughout your pregnancy, be sure to add a protein-rich food source to every meal and snack.
Examples of good, protein-rich foods include:
- nuts and nut butters
- chicken or turkey
- milk products
Try preparing some easy, protein-rich portable snacks for when you’re on the go. And talk to your doctor if you have questions regarding your specific protein needs.
Vegetables and fruits
Vegetables contain loads of nutrients you and your growing baby need such as:
- vitamins A and C
- vitamin E
- folic acid
- B vitamins
- trace minerals
Here are some tips for getting more veggies into your meals without going full-on rabbit. Try making veggie-based sauces and adding vegetables to smoothies, soups, casseroles, lasagnas, and guacamole.
Grains and legumes
Whole grains and legumes, such as dried peas and beans, and other healthy carbs like fruit and starchy vegetables should make regular appearances on your plate.
They provide B vitamins and trace minerals, such as zinc selenium and magnesium. Grains and legumes are full of nutrients, including iron and the various B vitamins: thiamin (vitamin B-1), riboflavin (vitamin B-2), folate, and niacin.
Your little one needs these for the development of just about every part of their body. For instance, folate intake significantly reduces the risk of having a baby with spina bifida.
These foods supply energy for your baby’s development and help build the placenta and other tissues in your body. It’s all about teamwork when it comes to fueling both you and baby.
Think of fiber as your body’s plumber, keeping constipation and hemorrhoids at bay. Try to eat 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day from whole grains, veggies, legumes, and fruit. Be sure to increase your intake of fluids along with fiber for best results.
Some fun options to toss into recipes include:
oats nuts avocados chia seeds berries
Remember to check the nutrition panel and choose products made with whole grains that contain the most fiber per serving.
Remember those trendy low fat diets from the ’90s? Long gone are the days of avoiding fat. While you don’t want to consume excessive amounts of fats, it’s also dangerous to eliminate all fat from your meals. A healthy balance is recommended.
High fat foods to limit include fried foods and packaged products containing trans fats. Greasy meals tend to make any nausea or heartburn worse.
Essential fatty acids are important, including omega-3 fatty acids. Even saturated fats, once considered a fat to avoid, are now known to be important for fetal developmentTrusted Source.
Follow the same guidelines as the general public when it comes to choosing healthy fats. Include more plant-based fat sources like canola, olive, and soybean oil, and limit trans fats.
Some sources of healthy fats include:
walnuts avocado pumpkin and sunflower seeds chia seeds flaxseed fatty fish olive oil
These foods provide the right types of fats to fuel your baby’s brain development.
Salt intake is important during pregnancy, and limiting it usually isn’t necessary, even if you already have high blood pressureTrusted Source. In fact, pregnant people often need more salt in their food to compensate for the growing baby, and restricting your intake could be harmfulTrusted Source.
However, you don’t need to limit salt while pregnant, it’s important to limit unhealthy, processed salty foods such as fast food and processed meats.
Speak to your healthcare provider if you have questions about your salt intake during pregnancy.
Fluids are an important part of any healthy eating plan. You should consume at least 80 ounces (2.4 liters) per day, and more is better to avoid dehydration. Pregnant people need the extra fluid to support the extra blood and amniotic fluid produced.
If you’re a coffee fan, you should limit caffeinated drinks while pregnant to not exceed 200 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per day, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG).
Water also reduces your chance of constipation and the subsequent hemorrhoids that can develop from straining while you go.
The increased flow of urine also reduces your risk of developing a urinary tract infection, which can be dangerous for you and your baby.