Eat Healthy During Pregnancy: Quick tips

Eat Healthy During Pregnancy: Quick tips

When you are pregnant, you need more of certain nutrients like protein, iron, and folic acid. It’s also important to get enough calcium. But this doesn't mean you need to eat twice as much food.

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.

Don’t forget breakfast.

  • Try fortified ready-to-eat or cooked breakfast cereals with fruit. Fortified cereals have added nutrients, like iron, calcium, and folic acid. Look for options with whole grains and less added sugar.
  • If you are feeling sick, start with a piece of whole-grain toast or whole-grain crackers. Eat more food later in the morning.

Eat foods with fiber.

  • Vegetables, like mixed vegetables, sweet or white potatoes with skin, cooked greens (spinach, collards, turnip greens), broccoli, and okra
  • Fruits, like pears, raspberries, blackberries, stewed prunes, apples, bananas, and oranges
  • Beans and peas, like black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, split peas, and lentils
  • Whole grains, like brown rice, whole-wheat bread or English muffins, whole-grain pastas, and oatmeal
  • Nuts, like almonds

Make healthy snack choices.

  • 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 and iron every day.

Folic acid helps prevent some birth defects. Iron keeps your blood healthy. Talk with your doctor or nurse about a prenatal vitamin that’s right for you.

Learn more about getting enough folic acid.

Eat 8 to 12 ounces of seafood each week.

Fish and shellfish have healthy fats that are good for 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.

Best choices
These choices are lower in mercury, so you can eat 8 to 12 ounces a week.

  • Canned light tuna
  • Catfish
  • Cod
  • Herring
  • Pacific oysters
  • Salmon
  • Shad
  • Shrimp
  • Trout

Good choices
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
  • Grouper
  • Halibut
  • Mahi-mahi
  • Snapper
  • Yellowfin tuna

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.

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, like sushi
  • Soft cheeses (like feta, Brie, and goat cheese), unless they are pasteurized
  • Raw or rare (undercooked) meats, poultry, or eggs
  • Unpasteurized juices or milk
  • Lunch or deli meats and hot dogs, unless they are heated until steaming hot
  • Raw sprouts, including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts

Limit caffeine and don’t drink alcohol.

  • Drink decaffeinated coffee or tea.
  • Drink water or seltzer instead of soda or other beverages with caffeine.
  • Don’t drink alcohol. No amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy.