Healthy Eating During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your baby is counting on you for the nutrients she needs to grow healthy and strong. Try to eat foods from each of the five food groups every day. The five food groups include grains, vegetables, fruits, milk or dairy products, and protein. Also be sure to take the right amount of vitamins and minerals you will need to keep you and your baby healthy such as Folic Acid. The best way to do this is to take a prenatal vitamin. Ask your doctor if he or she recommends a specific brand.


There are certain things you will want to limit or avoid, like caffeine, alcohol, or foods that can cause an allergic reaction. You also want to make sure that you are taking extra steps to handle food safely and keep food fresh to avoid food-borne illnesses.





Eat 6 ounces per day in the first trimester, 7 ounces in the second and 8 ounces in the third trimester. Try to aim for whole grains and stay away from white foods, like white bread, potatoes, and white rice. Whole grain bread, sweet potatoes, and brown rice are excellent substitutes.


1 ounce of Grains is equal to:

  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal
  • ½ cup cooked rice, pasta or cereal
  • 1 small pancake (4 ½ inches in diameter)
  • 1 small tortilla (6 inches in diameter)


Eat 2 ½ cups per day in the first trimester and 3 cups per day in the second and third trimester. Try to eat as many different colors of vegetables as you can, especially the dark green leafy vegetables like kale, chard, and spinach. Different colors of vegetables indicate the presence of different vitamins!
1 cup of Vegetables is equal to:

  • 1 cup raw or cooked vegetables
  • 1 cup vegetable juice
  • 2 cups raw, leafy greens


Eat 1 ½ to 2 cups per day in the first trimester and 2 cups per day in the second and third trimester. Try to eat as many different colors as you can; instead of just orange juice, eat an orange and an apple or kiwi. Different colors of fruits indicate the presence of different vitamins! The dark blue and dark red fruits, like berries, are particularly packed with vitamins.
½ cup of Fruit is equal to:

  • ½ cup 100% fruit juice
  • ½ cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit
  • ½ a fruit (small orange, apple or banana)


Milk or Dairy Products
Eat 3 cups per day all throughout pregnancy. Yogurt is especially good for you, because of the live, active cultures of healthy bacteria that will help keep your digestion moving even as your baby takes up more and more space.
1 cup of milk product is equal to:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 2 small slices of cheese or ½ cup shredded cheese



Pregnant women need at least 80 grams of protein per day. Protein is the building block of your body, so as you grow around your baby and your body builds a new person inside you, it is especially important to eat enough protein. Protein intake can also help balance your blood sugar. Sample of 80 grams of protein:

  • 6-oz steak (40g)
  • 2 eggs (6g each)
  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt (10g)
  • 1 cup milk (8g)
  • 1 bowl oatmeal (10g)


Healthy Eating Hints

Water: Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water every day. We cannot stress enough how important this is for your health and your baby’s! If you don’t like the taste of water or find it hard to drink enough of it, here are some tips for increasing your intake:

  • Add some natural flavoring to your water, like a slice of citrus fruit, a slice of cucumber, or a sprig of mint.
  • Try packets of flavoring that are available at the grocery store – use about half of the amount they recommend to reduce the artificial sweeteners that you take in.
  • Carry a reusable water bottle with you at all times. If you have water with you, it’s easier to remember to keep sipping! Some water bottles have built-in filters that make your water taste better.

Note: The way you can tell that you’re drinking enough water is if your pee is light yellow or straw-colored. If it’s dark, you need to drink more water. You should also be going to the bathroom at least every 2 hours, if not more. Otherwise, drink more water.


Meals: Eat 4 to 6 smaller meals a day instead of 3 bigger ones to help relieve the heartburn and discomfort you feel as your baby grows bigger, and to manage your morning sickness in early pregnancy.


Snacks: Cheese, yogurt, fruit, and vegetables are good, healthy snacks. Peanut butter and nuts are good too, if you are not allergic to them. Try to have some protein with every snack, since protein is what you need to build a baby!


Vitamins: Take a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin every day. Ask your health care provider if you need to take an iron or calcium supplement too.


Caffeine: Limit the caffeine each day to 200 milligrams or a 12-ounce cup of coffee. Instead of drinking regular coffee try drinking decaffeinated, or half-decaf. Caffeine is also found in tea, chocolate, soda and some over the counter medicine, so look at the labels of what you are eating.


Foods to Avoid

Avoid these foods that can cause food poisoning or contain harmful chemicals.

  • Raw fish, especially shellfish
  • Soft-scrambled eggs and foods made with raw or lightly cooked eggs
  • Unpasteurized juices
  • Raw sprouts especially alfalfa sprouts
  • Unpasteurized soft cheeses such as brie, feta, camembert, Roquefort, queso blanco, queso fresco, and panela.
  • Unpasteurized milk or any foods made from it.
  • Herbal supplements, unless cleared by your doctor or midwife.
  • Raw or uncooked meat, poultry, seafood and hot dogs. Deli meats (such as ham or bologna) can cause food poisoning. Avoid them or reheat them before eating.



Have more questions about healthy eating during pregnancy and beyond? Sign up for our FREE class, Nutrition During Pregnancy.