Eat Healthy During Pregnancy: Quick tips - MyHealthfinder
When you are pregnant, you need more of certain nutrients like protein, iron, folic acid, and iodine. It’s also important to get enough calcium.
Making smart food choices can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Here are some ideas to help you eat healthy during pregnancy.
Follow a healthy eating pattern.
Eating healthy means following a healthy eating pattern that includes a variety of nutritious foods and drinks.
Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, and protein foods.
Choose foods and drinks with less added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium (salt).
Limit refined grains and starches, which are in foods like cookies, white bread, and some snack foods.
If you are feeling sick, try eating a piece of whole-grain toast or whole-grain crackers.
Learn more about eating healthy.
Get the right amount of calories for you.
Being pregnant doesn't mean you need to eat twice as much food.
First trimester (first 12 weeks) – Most women don’t need any extra calories.
Second trimester (13 to 26 weeks) – Most women need about 340 extra calories a day.
Last trimester (after 26 weeks) – Most women need about 450 extra calories a day.
Ask your doctor or midwife how many calories you need during pregnancy.
Create a personalized Daily Food Plan.
Make healthy snack choices. Examples of healthy snacks include:
Low-fat or fat-free yogurt with fruit (look for options with no added sugar)
Whole-grain crackers with fat-free or low-fat cheese
Carrots with hummus
Take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid, iron, and iodine every day.
Folic acid helps prevent some birth defects of the brain and spine.
Iron and iodine help keep you and your baby healthy.
Talk with your doctor or nurse about a prenatal vitamin that’s right for you.
Eat 8 to 12 ounces of seafood each week.
Fish and shellfish have healthy fats that are good for you and your baby. But some fish is high in mercury, a metal that can hurt your baby’s development. It’s a good idea to eat seafood that is high in healthy fats but lower in mercury.
These choices are lower in mercury, so you can eat 8 to 12 ounces a week.
Canned light tuna
You can eat 4 ounces of these fish a week if you don’t eat any other seafood that week.
Canned or fresh white (albacore) tuna
Chilean sea bass or striped bass
Fish to avoid
Don’t eat bigeye tuna, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, or tilefish. They are high in mercury.
Learn more about choosing fish that is healthy and safe to eat [PDF - 308 KB].
Don’t eat certain foods.
These foods may have bacteria in them that can hurt your baby. Stay away from:
Raw (uncooked) or rare (undercooked) fish or shellfish, like sushi or raw oysters
Soft cheeses (like feta, Brie, and goat cheese), unless they are pasteurized
Raw or rare meats, poultry, or eggs
Unpasteurized juices or milk
Lunch or deli meats, smoked seafood, and hot dogs – unless they are heated until steaming hot
Prepared salads like ham salad, chicken salad, or seafood salad
Raw sprouts, including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts
Learn more about foods to avoid during pregnancy.
Limit drinks with caffeine and added sugars.
If you drink coffee or tea, choose decaf. Pick unsweetened options and don’t add sugar.
Drink water or seltzer instead of drinks with added sugars like soda, fruit drinks, and energy or sports drinks.
Don’t drink alcohol.
No amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy.
Content last updated June 1, 2022
This information on healthy eating during pregnancy was adapted from materials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Office on Women’s Health, and the National Institutes of Health Weight-control Information Network (WIN).
Reviewed by: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidance Review Committee
For more information on healthy eating during pregnancy, visit:
A healthy diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle at any time but is especially vital if you're pregnant or planning a pregnancy. Eating healthily during pregnancy will help your baby to develop and grow.
You do not need to go on a special diet, but it's important to eat a variety of different foods every day to get the right balance of nutrients that you and your baby need.
It's best to get vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat, but when you're pregnant you need to take a folic acid supplement as well, to make sure you get everything you need.
Read more about vitamins and supplements in pregnancy.
There are also certain foods that should be avoided in pregnancy.
There's no need to "eat for 2"
You will probably find that you are more hungry than usual, but you do not need to "eat for 2" – even if you are expecting twins or triplets.
Try to have a healthy breakfast every day, because this can help you to avoid snacking on foods that are high in fat and sugar.
Eating healthily often means changing the amounts of different foods you eat, so that your diet is varied, rather than cutting out all your favourites. You can use the Eatwell Guide to get the balance of your diet right. It shows you how much of what you eat should come from each food group to achieve a healthy, balanced diet.
You do not need to achieve this balance with every meal, but try to get the balance right over a week.
Fruit and vegetables in pregnancy
Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables because these provide vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre, which helps digestion and can help prevent constipation.
Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day – these can include fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced. Always wash fresh fruit and vegetables carefully.
Find out what counts as a portion of fruit or vegetables.
Starchy foods (carbohydrates) in pregnancy
Starchy foods are an important source of energy, some vitamins and fibre, and help you to feel full without containing too many calories. They include bread, potatoes, breakfast cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, maize, millet, oats, yams and cornmeal. If you are having chips, go for oven chips lower in fat and salt.
These foods should make up just over a 3rd of the food you eat. Instead of refined starchy (white) food, choose wholegrain or higher-fibre options such as wholewheat pasta, brown rice or simply leaving the skins on potatoes.
Protein in pregnancy
Eat some protein-rich foods every day. Sources of protein include:
meat (but avoid liver)
Choose lean meat, remove the skin from poultry, and try not to add extra fat or oil when cooking meat. Read more about eating meat in a healthy way.
Make sure poultry, burgers, sausages and whole cuts of meat such as lamb, beef and pork are cooked very thoroughly until steaming all the way through. Check that there is no pink meat, and that juices have no pink or red in them.
Try to eat 2 portions of fish each week, 1 of which should be oily fish such as salmon, sardines or mackerel. Find out about the health benefits of fish and shellfish. There are some types of fish you should avoid when you're pregnant or planning to get pregnant, including shark, swordfish and marlin.
When you're pregnant, you should avoid having more than 2 portions of oily fish a week, such as salmon, trout, mackerel and herring, because it can contain pollutants (toxins).
You should avoid eating some raw or partially cooked eggs, as there is a risk of salmonella.
Eggs produced under the British Lion Code of Practice are safe for pregnant women to eat raw or partially cooked, as they come from flocks that have been vaccinated against salmonella.
These eggs have a red lion logo stamped on their shell. Pregnant women can eat these raw or partially cooked (for example, soft boiled eggs).
Eggs that have not been produced under the Lion Code are considered less safe, and pregnant women are advised to avoid eating them raw or partially cooked, including in mousse, mayonnaise and soufflé. These eggs should be cooked until the white and the yolk are hard.
Find out more about foods to avoid in pregnancy.
Dairy in pregnancy
Dairy foods such as milk, cheese, fromage frais and yoghurt are important in pregnancy because they contain calcium and other nutrients that you and your baby need.
Choose low-fat varieties wherever possible, such as semi-skimmed, 1 percent fat or skimmed milk, low-fat and lower-sugar yoghurt and reduced-fat hard cheese.
If you prefer dairy alternatives, such as soya drinks and yoghurts, go for unsweetened, calcium-fortified versions.
Find out more about the nutritional benefits of dairy and dairy alternatives.
There are some cheeses you should avoid in pregnancy, including unpasteurised cheeses. To find out which cheeses you should not eat when you're pregnant on our page about foods to avoid in pregnancy.
Foods that are high in fat, sugar or both
Sugary foods and drinks are often high in calories, which can contribute to weight gain. Having sugary foods and drinks can also lead to tooth decay.
Fat is very high in calories, so eating too many fatty foods, or eating them too often, can make you put on weight. Eating too much saturated fat can also increase the amount of cholesterol in your blood, which increases your chance of developing heart disease.
Foods that are high in fat, sugar, or both, include:
all spreading fats (such as butter)
If you're having foods and drinks that are high in fat and sugar, have these less often and in small amounts.
Try to cut down on saturated fat, and have small amounts of foods rich in unsaturated fat instead, such as vegetable oils. Find out about saturated and unsaturated fat.
Healthy snacks in pregnancy
If you get hungry between meals, try not to eat snacks that are high in fat and/or sugar, such as sweets, biscuits, crisps or chocolate. Instead, choose something healthier, such as:
small sandwiches or pitta bread with grated cheese, lean ham, mashed tuna, salmon, or sardines, with salad
salad vegetables, such as carrot, celery or cucumber
low-fat, lower-sugar fruit yoghurt, plain yoghurt or fromage frais with fruit
hummus with wholemeal pitta bread or vegetable sticks
ready-to-eat apricots, figs or prunes
vegetable and bean soups
a small bowl of unsweetened breakfast cereal, or porridge, with milk
baked beans on toast or a small baked potato
a small slice of malt loaf, a fruited tea cake or a slice of toasted fruit bread
Find out more about healthy food swaps.
When choosing snacks, you can use food labels to help you. Find out more about food labelling, including how the "green, amber, red" code can help you make healthier choices quickly.
Preparing food safely
Wash fruit, vegetables and salads to remove all traces of soil, which may contain toxoplasma (a parasite that can cause toxoplasmosis) which can harm your unborn baby.
Wash all surfaces and utensils, and your hands, after preparing raw foods (poultry, meat, eggs, fish, shellfish and raw vegetables) to help you avoid food poisoning.
Make sure that raw foods are stored separately from ready-to-eat foods, otherwise there's a risk of contamination.
Use a separate knife and chopping board for raw meats.
Heat ready meals until they're steaming hot all the way through – this is especially important for meals containing poultry.
You also need to make sure that some foods, such as eggs, poultry, burgers, sausages and whole cuts of meat like lamb, beef and pork, are cooked very thoroughly until steaming all the way through.
For tips, read foods to avoid in pregnancy.
Healthy Start vouchers for pregnant women
You may qualify for the Healthy Start scheme, which provides vouchers to pregnant women and families who qualify. The vouchers can be used to buy milk and plain fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables at local shops. You'll also get coupons that can be exchanged for free vitamins locally.
For more information or to apply for the vouchers, you can:
find out if you qualify for Healthy Start vouchers
download a Healthy Start application form, or
call the Healthy Start helpline on 0345 607 6823
You can also find out where to get Healthy Start vitamins near you or general maternity services near you.
Get Start4Life pregnancy and baby emails
Sign up for Start4Life's weekly emails for expert advice, videos and tips on pregnancy, birth and beyond.
Community content from HealthUnlocked
Nutrition of a pregnant woman
So, your plans and decisions to give birth to a child have come true - you are pregnant! But this news causes you a double feeling: - on the one hand, a feeling of joy, and on the other hand, a feeling of certain fear and even fear of unknown trials for your life and the fate of the unborn baby. What will he be like? - healthy, beautiful, happy?...
And this largely depends on the woman herself, on what lifestyle she will lead during pregnancy and, most importantly, how she will eat.
Nutrition of a woman in different periods of pregnancy
The main thing in the menu of a future mother is variety. She should consume foods from all food groups: meat, fish, vegetables and fruits, dairy products, bread and cereals.
A woman's nutrition during pregnancy can be roughly divided into three periods (trimesters).
If before pregnancy a woman ate normally, felt comfortable, did not experience allergies to any products, then it is not worth changing her diet at an early stage of the first trimester of pregnancy.
During this period, all organs and systems in the child's body are formed, tissues are formed. The body needs complete proteins and vitamins: lean meat (rabbit, chicken, turkey), fish and seafood, dairy products. Be sure to eat rice, fresh or frozen vegetables, seasonal fruits. In the first trimester, many expectant mothers are still working. No matter how difficult it is to control your diet in the workplace, you need to do it - find time for a full breakfast and lunch.
In the first trimester of pregnancy, there is an active restructuring of the body and adaptation to a new state. During this period, it is recommended to switch to a low-calorie diet, which includes more fruits, juices, decoctions of dried fruits, including rose hips. At the very beginning of pregnancy, especially if toxicosis torments, more frequent, but less plentiful meals are recommended.
Always keep a hematogen, a bag of nuts or dried fruit in your pocket to have a snack on the street. If your condition does not allow you to eat regular food, you should pay attention to baby food. Baby products literally save expectant mothers suffering from severe toxicosis. These are boxed cereals, children's curds, cookies and fruit purees.
In the first trimester, special attention must be paid to the quality of products. Gradually abandon sauces, semi-finished products and canned food containing harmful chemical additives. Do not forget that the placenta freely accumulates and passes chemistry. The importance of products containing folic acid is great, without it intensive metabolism is impossible, its deficiency can cause developmental abnormalities. Folic acid is found in greens, nuts, white cabbage and broccoli, beets, legumes, and eggs.
According to nutritionists, the diet of pregnant women should be 300 kcal / day higher than that of non-pregnant women, but in the first trimester there is no need to increase the energy value of the diet at all; in the second trimester, an additional 340 kcal / day is required; in the third trimester - 452 kcal / day. Pregnant women generally get enough calories, and more than 80% of women achieve and even exceed the required weight gain. These extra calories benefit the fetus. An underweight woman should gain 16–20 kg during her entire pregnancy, an overweight woman about 7 kg, and a normal body weight of 11–12 kg.
In the second trimester there are active jumps in the height and weight of the baby and uterus, so the caloric content of the diet needs to be increased. It is desirable to eat more and better. At this time, the need for trace elements increases: iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium, calcium, potassium. The child creates his own "reserve" of trace elements using the mother's resource, which means that the mother should have enough of them for two.
Very often in pregnant women in the second trimester hemoglobin drops, this is a normal physiological phenomenon, if it is not threatening to health. You can increase hemoglobin by eating red meat, chicken, fish, dried fruits, pomegranates, green vegetables and fresh herbs, buckwheat, citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, pomelo, lemons), rosehip and berry infusions.
In the second trimester, a pregnant woman should limit the intake of smoked and fried foods, as well as salt in her diet. In no case should you limit the liquid. Pure water is the best drink for a pregnant woman, and water should be consumed up to 2-2.5 liters per day. Water is a natural drink for the body, it does not cause complications and has no contraindications. Edema is caused not by water, but by salt, which we not only add in its pure form, but also consume with canned food, mayonnaise, cheese, and sausage. The absence of salt is not harmful, it is naturally found in many products: vegetables, bread, so the diet will not remain completely without it. Excess salt disrupts metabolism.
During this period, you can increase the calorie content of food. Childbirth must be approached physically strong. It is better to eat meat and fish in the morning, for breakfast and lunch, and for dinner, prepare dairy and vegetable dishes: cheesecakes, stewed vegetables, cottage cheese and vegetable casseroles. It is necessary to minimize the intake of canned food, smoked meats, pickles and marinades, hot spices and fatty foods. Frequent walks in the air, physical activity are recommended.
In the third trimester, it is necessary to reduce the calorie content of foods at the expense of confectionery and flour products, eat less fatty meat, as well as cheese and sour cream.
By the end of this period, many experts advise pregnant women to give up meat altogether in order to increase tissue elasticity and prevent ruptures.
During the entire period of pregnancy, special attention should be paid to the combination of products. If you combine foods wisely, you can ensure more efficient absorption of food. If the food is digested poorly, then this can lead to rotting and fermentation of products and the formation of substances harmful to the body of the mother and child. In addition, the fermentation process is accompanied by gas formation, which can lead to flatulence (bloating) and discomfort. This is especially harmful in the last stages of pregnancy.
Try not to take the first, second and third course at the same time; this overflows the stomach and presses on the fetus, the food is poorly digested and poorly absorbed. Eat little and often. It is not recommended to eat immediately before starting work, a long walk, before charging and immediately after it; it is advisable to rest for 10 minutes before eating.
Eat only when you are hungry, try not to snack on the go. Follow the diet, eat at about the same time.
Proper preparation of food will help to maximize the useful substances contained in the products. Do not overcook food, try not to reheat the same dish several times, it is better to set aside only the portion that will be used. Cook in the most gentle way: baking, steaming, stewing. Avoid frying, boiling in large amounts of water, with this method of processing products, many useful substances are lost. If possible, do not cook for several days at once. Do not use aluminum cookware when cooking. Remember that for a pregnant woman, it is not calories that are important, but the quality of food, its naturalness, primarily a “living cell” (whole cereals, raw vegetables and fruits, fresh meat and dairy products).
What can harm the pregnant woman and the fetus
Smoking and alcohol – quit smoking from the first days of pregnancy, if you have smoked before, avoid "passive" smoking, and do not consume alcoholic beverages in any doses.
Lack of vitamins and microelements in the body - their absence or deficiency can lead to irreparable consequences. So, for example, iodine deficiency can lead to mental retardation of a child, folic acid deficiency - to severe fetal deformities, calcium deficiency - to a violation of the formation of the child's skeleton, iron deficiency - to anemia and a delay in the physical and neuropsychic development of the child. It is necessary to consult a doctor, perhaps he will recommend switching to iodized salt, as well as supplementing your diet with a vitamin-mineral complex and folic acid.
Excess weight is the risk of having a large child, which means the risk of complications during childbirth and the child's tendency to become obese at an older age.
The use of food additives (sauces, seasonings such as vegeta, bouillon cubes), exotic fruits, semi-finished products, carbonated drinks - the risk of allergies and anomalies in a child, unfortunately, increases.
Recommended for pregnant women:
Do not eat hot dogs and other snacks containing meat that has not been heated on fire or boiled in boiling water.
Avoid soft cheeses. Hard cheeses are safe.
Do not eat raw frozen pies and meat pastes, seafood. Canned analogues are safe.
Do not consume raw vegetables, unpasteurized juices, liver, meat, poultry and eggs that have not been sufficiently cooked. These products may contain Salmonella taxins.
In no case do not resort to starvation and various diets.
Regularly monitor blood pressure and do not miss visits to the gynecologist.
Your child's development and health depend on your diet and lifestyle during pregnancy!
What to eat during pregnancy and what not to eat - advice on proper nutrition
Table of contents:
Nutrition in the first trimester
Second trimester diet
Diet in the third trimester
Is it possible to prevent allergies in a child
Foods not to eat during pregnancy
During pregnancy, it is very important to eat right: a balanced diet of the expectant mother is one of the sources of the necessary components for the proper development of the baby.
For a pregnant woman, "eating for two" should not mean "eating twice as much", but "eating twice as good". Proper nutrition during pregnancy is important not only in terms of the health of the unborn child. This will help you feel better, be less tired, prevent you from gaining extra pounds, and help you quickly get in shape after giving birth. Here are some helpful tips 1 :
If you are experiencing nausea, you can try to satisfy your hunger with dry salted crackers and biscuits.
Avoid fatty foods, fried, spicy, smoked and sweet.
It is also important to know that changes occur in the body of a pregnant woman in each trimester, so the diet at different times will be different. What foods do you and your baby need?
Nutrition in the first trimester
Generally, there is little to no weight gain in the first and second months of pregnancy, while in the third month one or two kilograms are added to the weight. During this period, you need to eat nutritious foods, and the more varied your diet, the better. First of all, these are vegetables rich in folic acid: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, asparagus, avocados, lentils, red beans. There is a lot of it in flax and sunflower seeds and nuts: almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts. Folic acid is especially important in early pregnancy as it helps build the baby's major organs such as the heart and brain 2 .
At this stage, it is important to eat fish and meat - sources of iron, which support the formation of the brain and contribute to the development of intelligence. It is important to remember that these products must necessarily undergo heat treatment: eating them raw can lead to toxoplasmosis, helminthiasis 3 .
Many women in the first trimester of pregnancy suffer from nausea. One way to alleviate the situation is to eat little and often throughout the day, avoiding large meals.
Reduce your intake of saturated fats such as butter and cream as early as the first trimester to avoid gaining extra pounds.
Try to replace sweets with fruits. They contain vitamins and minerals that both you and your baby need. And they are rich in fiber, which helps the normal functioning of the intestines.
Diet in the second trimester
In the second trimester, a woman begins to gain weight, on average adding about five kilograms in three months. During this period, the bones of the unborn baby begin to form. That is why it is so important to eat foods rich in calcium. First of all, it is dairy - yogurts, cheeses, cottage cheese, kefir and so on. When choosing yogurt, give preference to natural ones - they do not contain dyes and sugar. Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium better, so try to get out in the sun more often 4 .
The need for folic acid is still high in the second trimester. So stick with the green vegetables and other foods on your first trimester list.
The baby gets bigger and presses on the intestines of the expectant mother - this is how constipation occurs. Therefore, doctors advise drinking plenty of non-carbonated water and eating more fiber, which improves digestion. In particular, oatmeal or wheat bran will help with constipation.
Another common problem in pregnant women is heartburn. Avoid fatty and spicy foods (this also applies to pregnant women who do not suffer from heartburn), eat often, but little by little, chew thoroughly and do not go to bed immediately after eating.
Iodine ensures the functioning of the thyroid gland and the normal development of the baby's brain 5 . The easiest source is iodized salt. In addition, a lot of iodine is found in seafood.
Diet in the third trimester
During the third trimester, a pregnant woman gains about six kilograms, so by the end of pregnancy, the weight increases by an average of 12 kg.
Compared to the previous trimester, the diet should not change dramatically, but an additional 200 kcal per day should be added to the previous diet.
As the child grows and develops, the body needs more vitamin C and even more fibre.
Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron from foods. The main source of vitamin C is fruits. An orange or half a grapefruit for breakfast, a couple of kiwis for an afternoon snack, apples, pears, grapes, watermelon - and you have received a daily dose of 6 .
With the approach of childbirth, it is worth increasing the intake of iron, vitamins and antioxidants in the body, which will help you get in shape after the birth of your baby.
Eggs, fish, crustaceans, dairy products, iodized salt
Putting Mom during a tender factor. However, in Russia, 70-80% of women suffer from a lack of vitamins, regardless of the season of the year 7 . Vitamin-mineral complexes will help to fill the lack of vitamins and minerals in the mother's diet.
Is it possible to prevent allergies in a child
So far, scientists have not figured out how to prevent food allergies in a child during pregnancy.