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What to Eat—and Avoid—In Pregnancy

By AWHONN Editorial Staff

What should you eat and avoid in pregnancy?

Face it: In pregnancy, you need only an extra 100 to 300 calories each day to grow a healthy baby. That’s as simple as a sliced apple with peanut butter or low-fat yogurt with fresh fruit. Use the latest research and our suggestions for healthy eating by trimester:

1st Trimester2nd Trimester3rd Trimester
Morning Sickness Relief
Morning sickness can be miserable. And a review of the latest research shows that all of the common remedies—from ginger tea to vitamin B6—failed for most to cure nausea and vomiting during the first weeks of pregnancy. Combat any loss in nutrition with daily prenatal vitamins. Start the day by munching on a few saltine crackers before rising, and wait until after breakfast before brushing your teeth.
Emphasize Healthy Eating
What’s great nutrition for all Americans also works for you and your baby. New dietary guidelines recommend filling half of your plate with fruits and veggies at every meal or snack. Not only will you get the essential vitamins, nutrients and fiber your body craves in pregnancy, you’ll have more energy.
Ramping Up for Birth
The latest headlines are exploring a link between eating more fish and reducing early birth risks—including preterm birth. Experts recommend 8-12 ounces a week of low-mercury fish—or about 2 meals—a week. In research, women who ate fish up to three times weekly reduced their preterm birth risks. Choose safer fishes high in omega 3 fatty acids, like wild caught salmon.
Best ChoicesEnergy BoostersMunchies for the Marathon
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean proteins (chicken, beans, eggs, some fish and seafood, lean red meats)
  • Lean dairy (low-fat milk, low-fat hard cheeses, yogurt)
  • Apple topped with natural almond butter
  • Non-fat Greek-style yogurt with banana and real maple syrup
  • Chocolate-peanut butter smoothie: low-fat chocolate milk with natural peanut butter plus a few ice cubes
  • Almond-berry smoothie: vanilla almond milk plus frozen blueberries and natural almond butter
  • Bran flakes cereal with golden raisins and low-fat milk
  • Mini whole-wheat pita stuffed with hummus and shredded carrots
  • Hard boiled egg with 1 small cucumber sliced plus 1 cup cherry tomatoes with low-fat Swiss on whole-wheat Melba toasts
  • Corn tortilla warmed with black beans and half an avocado sliced

Skip These Foods

  • Limit or avoid caffeine—more than 6-12 ounces a day increases miscarriage risks in some women
  • Alcohol is entirely off-limits during your entire pregnancy; there is no safe level
  • Cold cuts, deli meats and soft cheeses as these can contain listeria, a bacteria that can be harmful during pregnancy
  • High-mercury fish: shark, tilefish, king mackerel
  • Junk foods like those fried and high in fat and sugar, as well as sugary drinks

Ask Our Nurses

What Food Should I Eat or Avoid in Pregnancy?

Also make sure you read 3 key supplements to have during pregnanacy, as well as foods and eating habits to avoid during pregnancy and Veggies for a healthier pregnancy.


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