Who doesn’t dream of eating ice cream without restriction at the first sign of a positive pregnancy test?

But before you go over-building that adorable pregnant belly consider the facts: If you’re a generally healthy person you only need about another 300 calories from high protein, low-fat foods each day to grow your baby in utero. That’s equal to the calories in a couple glasses of skim milk, or 2 tablespoons of yummy natural peanut butter slathered on your favorite apple slices.

And not only are you what you eat right now, so is your baby – you’re truly eating for two when you do. So, to give him or her the best start possible, go easy on the sugary stuff and follow simple healthy exchanges to curb cravings when they emerge.

If you’re craving: Eat this:
Ice cream Pudding or frozen yogurt, low-fat or fat-free
Chocolate chip cookies Fresh fruit drizzled with sugar-free or fat-free chocolate syrup
Chocolate bar
Hot chocolate, sugar-free made with milk for calcium
Potato chips
100-calorie bag of popcorn, whole-grain or air-popped
Butter on… anything
High-fiber breads with smart spreads fortified by olive oil
Loaded baked potato
Sweet potato loaded with fat-free yogurt and veggies
French fries
Potato wedge or fries made with baked sweet potato
Soda, regular or diet
Flavored water, low-calorie
Crackers or croutons
Nuts, walnuts or almonds
Quinoa or high-fiber grains and pasta
Muffin with cream cheese
English muffin, high-fiber with natural peanut butter
High-fat hard cheeses
String cheese, low-fat and loaded with calcium


Eating strategies

    • Emphasize proteins, high-fiber foods
    • Get your nutrition from food, but do take a prenatal vitamin as a supplement
    • Graze throughout the day; 4 to 6 small meals will help with heartburn and indigestion rather than 3 bigger meals
    • Eat at least two “healthy” fish meals a week for the Omega-3s and DHA needed for your baby’s brain development
    • Take a DHA supplement meant for pregnant women as a back-up
    • Get more of your calories before mid-afternoon to avoid heartburn at night
    • Drink lots of water to prevent fatigue and dehydration
    • Alcohol is entirely out in pregnancy; experts have mixed opinions about alcohol-free beers as they still contain up to 1% alcohol
    • If you’re expecting twins or multiples talk with your healthcare provider about your unique nutritional needs during your pregnancy


Did you know?

Some pregnant women crave clay, ashes, gravel, or dirt! It’s a syndrome called pica, and it could signal a nutritional deficiency—tell your provider about these cravings, but don’t eat these things.



The Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) promotes the health of women and newborns.

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