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Foods to Eat and Avoid While Pregnant

Even if you have a healthy diet and get an adequate amount of exercise, it’s still natural to worry if you’re hitting the healthy pregnancy diet mark. What you put into your body is your baby’s primary source of nutrition. You want to be sure that your diet includes various healthy foods and beverages to provide the essential nutrients a baby needs for growth and development. We want to help ease any stress or confusion, so we put together a list of foods to eat and avoid during pregnancy.

Before we get into the foods, we want to point out a few of the many vitamins you should take while pregnant. Most necessary nutrients exist in various foods, but you can also consume them as daily supplements in pill form.

Folic Acid

Folic acid is a B vitamin that is crucial in preventing congenital disabilities (commonly called “birth defects”) in the baby’s brain and spinal cord. These tend to be known as neural tube defects. Intaking at least 600 micrograms a day reduces the risk for these defects to occur. This vitamin exists in leafy greens, bread, pasta, etc. However, it may be hard to get your daily dosage from diet alone, so many doctors recommend taking vitamins.


Pregnant women need twice as much iron as non-pregnant women. By intaking 27 milligrams of iron daily, you reduce the risk of preterm birth, anemia, depression, stillbirth, and so on. Iron is great for making more blood that carries oxygen to your baby. Iron is found in meat, fish, dried beans and peas, and iron-fortified cereals.


Calcium helps develop a baby’s bone and teeth. A lack of calcium could result in the mineral being taken from the mother’s stores in her bones and given to the baby to meet the extra demands of pregnancy. You should aim for 1,000 milligrams daily. Calcium is found in milk, yogurt, sardines, and some leafy greens.

For a more extensive list of vitamins and minerals to intake, you can follow the link here. The foods you decide to include in your diet play a crucial role in your baby’s development. Let’s start with the foods we recommend you include in your diet.

Lean Meat

The amino acids in protein are essential to the structure of your body and your baby’s. High protein stabilizes your hunger by stabilizing your blood sugar. You should aim for three servings (that’s about 75 grams) of protein per day.


If you don’t eat meat, lentils are a great source of protein. They’re also rich in folic acid and great for your digestive system. A cup of cooked lentils carries about 17 grams of protein, along with about 7 milligrams of iron.


You should aim for about 3-4 servings of dairy foods a day. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are all good sources of protein, calcium, and vitamin D. Stick to natural, non-flavored dairy products as they will have the most beneficial ingredients for you and your baby.

Wild Salmon

This fatty fish has a reputation for being one of the best foods to eat during pregnancy. Salmon is packed with DHA omega-3s, which is something the body can’t naturally produce. Don’t worry about mercury concerns for salmon is a safe seafood choice. Feel free to enjoy 8 to 12 ounces a week.


While they may be small, they pack a mean punch. Nuts are full of essential vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, zinc, potassium, vitamin E, protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Help yourself to plenty if you’re gaining weight slowly, and have just about a handful if you’re gaining quicker.

While the list of foods to benefit you and your baby could go on forever, it’s also important to know which foods to avoid and why. Here are just a few of the food options that you want to steer clear of.


While this may be an obvious drink to avoid, it’s helpful to understand the “why” behind it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol use during pregnancy has been linked with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and learning and behavioral difficulties.

Fish with High Levels of Mercury

Avoid fish such as swordfish, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, and tilefish, for these have high levels of methyl mercury. Methyl mercury is a toxic chemical that can pass through the placenta and can be harmful to an unborn baby’s developing brain, kidneys, and nervous system.

Raw Meat

Consumption of raw meat could cause Toxoplasma infection in the baby, leading to problems such as blindness and mental disability later in life, reports the CDC. Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat, fish, eggs, and shellfish.

It can seem like the list of do’s and don’ts go on for miles. However, the main thing to keep in mind is eating a well-balanced diet, taking vitamins, drinking plenty of water, and exercising regularly. We understand that some women’s diets may be impacted by ethical beliefs, religious requirements, or health conditions. We advise you to check with your doctor to meet all dietary requirements.