Foods to Eat During Pregnancy

When you’re pregnant, it’s more important than ever to make healthy eating choices to ensure your baby develops on track. Eating a healthy diet will help you and your baby maintain a healthy weight and can help prevent gestational diabetes and other problems. As not every healthy food is safe during pregnancy, there are many foods you should limit or avoid.

Dietary Do’s During Pregnancy

Stock up on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat pasteurized dairy products and lean protein sources. After your first trimester, you should average 300 to 450 extra calories a day, depending on where you are in your pregnancy. Food safety is more important now than ever. Make sure all your fruits and vegetables are thoroughly washed before eating. Your meat and eggs should be fully cooked before consuming, following all food safety guidelines. Cooked seafood is a great healthy option for you and your baby, as long as you’re avoiding fish species that are high in mercury, such as king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, swordfish, and tuna. It’s recommended that you limit fish consumption to 8 to 12 ounces a week. Safe seafood to eat includes:

  • Catfish
  • Canned light or white tuna
  • Cod
  • Sardines
  • Salmon (wild)
  • Shrimp

Fish should be cooked so that the internal temperature is 145 F to ensure safety.

Foods You Should Limit During Pregnancy

Pregnancy changes your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness from common foodborne bacteria, such as listeria, E. coli, and salmonella. Even if you don’t get sick or notice any side effects, the bacteria can still make your baby sick. Listeriosis, often caused by raw or unpasteurized foods contaminated with listeria, can cause miscarriage, preterm birth, or infant death. Parasites, such as toxoplasma gondii, can also live in undercooked or contaminated food. Half of toxoplasmosis cases in the country come from contaminated food. The disease can cause blindness, hearing loss, and brain injury. While you’re pregnant, avoid:

  • Deli meat, hot dogs and charcuterie unless heated to 165 F
  • Fish high in mercury
  • Pâté
  • Raw or undercooked eggs, as well as products made with raw eggs, such as homemade mayonnaise
  • Raw or undercooked meat and seafood, including sushi
  • Raw sprouts
  • Smoked seafood, unless it has been cooked
  • Store-made salads and spreads
  • Unbaked dough or batter—even licking the spoon can make you sick
  • Unpasteurized dairy products
  • Unpasteurized soft cheeses, such as brie, chevre, and feta

If you are unsure if a food or a cooking method is safe, talk to your doctor. You should also limit consumption of sugary, fatty or highly processed foods. An occasional splurge is fine—pregnancy cravings are real—but eating too much junk food, fast food, and candy won’t provide enough nutrition for your growing baby.

What Not to Drink During Pregnancy

You should avoid the following for all nine months of pregnancy:

  • Alcohol
  • Fresh-squeezed (unpasteurized) juice or cider, unless you first bring it to a boil for at least one full minute
  • Kombucha—even if pasteurized, it contains trace amounts of alcohol
  • Unpasteurized (raw) milk

You should limit consumption of caffeinated beverages and sugary sodas. Certain herbal teas may be safe to consume but should be avoided. Discuss your options with your doctor before drinking anything you are unsure about.