Marissa is the writer of ThePracticalMommy and the blog Mommy Knows What's Best. She is a stay-at-home mom to four and was a teacher.
Best Foods to Eat During Pregnancy
What to Eat During Pregnancy
Eating during pregnancy often becomes an issue for mothers-to-be. How can a pregnant woman eat healthy when there are so many cravings to fulfill?
All can be done well, especially in moderation. Remember, not only are you eating for you, you are eating to support your growing baby. Everything you consume does affect your baby, so it's important to eat the right foods, at least most of the time.
As a rule of thumb, pregnant women are told to eat an extra 300 calories a day. If you normally ate around 1200-1300 calories a day, that would mean your caloric intake would increase to 1500-1600 a day. Why so few extra calories? Think about the baby for a second; do you think he or she needs more than that, being so small? Nope. At that size, the baby only needs you to eat 300 extra calories, and those calories should be healthy calories.
Here you will find what kinds of foods you should consume daily, along with some tips about how to fulfill those cravings without going overboard.
Healthy Pregnancy Diet
Having a healthy, balanced diet during pregnancy is something that every pregnant woman should aim for. Not only does it benefit the baby, but it benefits the mom as well, keeping her healthy and strong even when the baby arrives.
Many women eat fairly well and then take prenatal vitamins to fill in the gaps. While that's okay, it would be even better to to be very aware of what you are putting in your body.
To keep your diet balanced and to get the most from your diet, it's important to include foods with the following:
- B Vitamins--help convert foods into much needed energy, help form red blood cells, help the immune system function well
- Calcium--promotes healthy heart, muscle, nerve and bone growth
- Fiber--prevents constipation, keeps you feeling full longer
- Folic Acid--(a B vitamin) prevents neural tubal birth defects
- Iron--keeps the blood supply healthy, helps to prevent anemia
- Protein--helps build new cells, helps repair body tissue, helps muscle growth
- Vitamin A--boosts the immune system, helps with skin cell growth, helps with vision, supports healthy white blood cell growth
- Vitamin C--supports the immune system, protects against cardiovascular disease
- Vitamin D--helps build strong bones, helps with brain function and development
Can you see how all of these vitamins and essential minerals are so awesome for your body and your baby? Notice that sugar and salt are not included in the list. While yes, trace amounts of each are important, too much of each can be detrimental to your health and that of your baby. Yet, many, many pregnant women (including me in my first pregnancy) eat foods with high amounts of both salt and sugar.
Eating in moderation can go a long way. No matter what you choose to eat, make sure you are eating the right amounts that will be healthy for you and your baby. Eating too much of anything can cause excess weight gain, which is not needed during pregnancy beyond the recommended 15-25lbs weight gain. With excess weight gain, you feel uncomfortable with yourself both during and after the pregnancy.
To get a good idea of what your plate should look like during meals, view the video below that demonstrates the use of MyPlate, an initiative to help people portion their meals properly.
What to Eat When You're Expecting
Healthy Foods to Eat During Pregnancy
Food to Avoid During Pregnancy
- What to Avoid When You Are Pregnant
Do you know what foods to avoid when you are pregnant? What about medications, exercises, or drinks? Learn what you should avoid during pregnancy to keep you and your baby healthy.
Read More From Wehavekids
List of Good Food to Eat During Pregnancy
|Calcium||Folic Acid||Fiber||Iron||Protein||Vitamin A||Vitamin Bs||Vitamin C|
potatoes with skin
air popped popcorn
calcium fortified oj
dark leafy greens
Many pregnant women experience cravings during pregnancy. It's almost an insatiable urge to eat anything you can find; often, it's a targeted taste, one that has to be fulfilled immediately.
How do you tame such a feeling while staying healthy?
By understanding how cravings work, you can fulfill yours without going overboard. Some people believe that cravings are the body's way of telling us what we are missing from our diet, while science supports a simpler explanation: fulfilling cravings makes us feel good. In other words, the foods we crave make us feel better due to certain chemicals released in the brain. If we associate good feelings with a certain food (for me, chocolate), we are more likely to crave it.
There are two ways to tame your cravings during pregnancy in a healthy way:
- Fulfill the craving in moderation. If you crave something sweet, like ice cream or chocolate, have some! The key is to have a small serving of it and to eat it slowly. During my first pregnancy, I craved Peppermint Patties. I kept a bag of them in the house and at work, and each time I had a craving, I would indulge in one. I ate it in small bites so it lasted a bit longer.
- Find a substitute for the craving. Craving carbs and reach for the cookies often? Try a different carb filled snack! Instead of cookies, try popcorn (easy on the butter) or pretzels. Or if you'd like a little more variety, try whole grain or multigrain crackers with peanut butter or guacamole.
It's okay to have a giant sundae every once in a blue moon, but it's not good for your health or your baby's health to have one every day. Make good choices when it comes to your cravings!
|Want this?||Have this!||Benefits|
nachos and cheese
baked potato with skin, cheese
iron, calcium, and protein
Greek yogurt with granola
calcium, fiber, protein
baked sweet potato fries
strawberry fruit smoothie
Taking Prenatal Vitamins
To make sure you're getting every essential vitamin and mineral necessary for healthy growth of your baby, you should take a prenatal vitamin. Prenatal vitamins are formulated specifically for pregnant women to ensure that the women aren't receiving too much or too little of a vitamin or mineral, plus they include folic acid which is vital for preventing neural tubal defects in the baby and iron which is needed for your increasing blood supply.
Try to take your vitamin every day. If you cannot stomach the prenatal vitamins prescribed to you by your doctor, ask to try a different kind or if you can take a daily vitamin with a folic acid supplement instead.
Eating with Morning Sickness
Many pregnant women are plagued with morning sickness, which most often makes them not want to eat. It is, however, important that you continue to eat healthy foods even though you may not want to so that you and your baby get proper nutrition.
Morning sickness isn't always a morning thing; it can be a day long feeling, or a feeling that strikes when you are hungry. To combat this feeling, try to eat a few small filling meals throughout the day to keep your stomach full and to help prevent the nausea. That may mean you may have to eat more fiber, which can be found in apples, almonds, sunflower seeds, baked potatoes, whole wheat pasta, and other yummy foods.
Try to find the healthy foods that won't make you ill because of smells. If something smells too strong, chances are it will make you sick. Stick to foods with easy to handle smells or sweet smells that won't bother you as much.
When I had morning sickness, I found that eating bland yet filling foods kept me from feeling ill. One of my favorite meals was simple baby rice cereal mixed with milk, cinnamon and a touch of sugar. One bowl kept me full for a while and didn't make me sick since it had almost no smell except for the cinnamon.
Foods to Eat for Morning Sickness
- Saltine Crackers
- Multigrain Crackers
- Clear Broth
- Baked Potato with Skin
- Ginger Root
- Baby Rice Cereal with Cinnamon
Benefits of Drinking Water
Along with having a healthy diet, it is beneficial to stay hydrated. The best drink to have when you are pregnant is water. Water is good for you because:
- It helps support a healthy digestive system.
- It gives you the feeling of being full.
- It doesn't contain any sugar or extra calories.
- It helps to reduce swelling and fluid retention.
- It helps to keep your energy levels up.
- It helps to fight pregnancy fatigue.
Pregnant women should drink about 64 oz. of water daily, which is about 8 eight ounce glasses. If you can't drink all of that in one or two sittings, drink it throughout the day.
Try to be as healthy-minded as possible when choosing foods to eat during pregnancy. Remember to choose foods full of essential vitamins and minerals and to eat in moderation. Avoid empty calories, like common craving foods, and aim to take your prenatal vitamin every day. It's all beneficial for your health and the health of your growing baby.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
alexa berry on November 08, 2017:
me and my fiance he said is okay if u eat o nut butter because i am preganant we are in engaged for over 3 years and 4 months and we are expecting twins that is girls im due in 7 months
Marissa (author) from United States on September 18, 2012:
visionandfocus, thank you very much for reading and commenting! I'm glad you found my tips useful and helpful, and I appreciate that you'll be linking to my hub from yours . :)
visionandfocus from North York, Canada on September 17, 2012:
Great hub on a very important topic. It's so crucial to start off your baby-to-be on a healthy diet. Your "eat this, not that" approach is excellent, giving people do-able, healthy options. I'd add avocados for good fat, and there are many who need non-dairy alternatives, but that's about it. This hub is so helpful I'm going to link to it from my "What to eat for strong bones and teeth" hub, as moms-to-be need more calcium and Vit D than usual, and you've included some great sources for those.
Great hub! Voted up!
Marissa (author) from United States on July 09, 2012:
teaches12345, thank you very much for your feedback! :D
Dianna Mendez on July 07, 2012:
Very well done! I think that all moms-to-be should read this. It is information that guide them to having a healthy baby. Love your chart on the alternative foods to have when you crave sweets, etc. Voted up.
Marissa (author) from United States on July 07, 2012:
tillsontitan, I agree: the more you know, the more prepared you'll be! I'm glad you found this useful for every pregnant woman. :)
Marissa (author) from United States on July 07, 2012:
LikaMarie, spicy foods were a no-no for me too. Strawberries, though? Yum!
Thanks for reading!
Marissa (author) from United States on July 07, 2012:
randomcreative, thank you very much for your comment! :D
Mary Craig from New York on July 07, 2012:
What great information for every pregnant lady! Pregnancy not only messes with your eating habits but your hormones and emotions. The more you know going in the better prepared you will be.
Your outlines and explanations are certainly helpful, easy to read, and nutritional.
Voted up, useful, and interesting.
LikaMarie on July 07, 2012:
I didn't get much morning sickness. Though eating foods that were over spiced was a no-no. It didn't mean I couldn't eat hot-spicy, just not over spiced, as in herbs included.
Though I couldn't eat enough strawberries...
Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 06, 2012:
This is a great overview for anyone who is pregnant or planning to become pregnant! I love all of the nutritional information and simple suggestions.
Marissa (author) from United States on July 06, 2012:
chrissieklinger, aren't cravings strange? With my daughter, I craved orange juice. :D Thanks for reading!
chrissieklinger from Pennsylvania on July 06, 2012:
I loved your charts! When I was pregnant with my daughter I craved ice cream and that isn't even something I normally liked to eat. After she was born, I rarely ate it....cravings are so strange:)