Ways & How

How to Eat Healthy While Pregnant

How to Eat Healthy While Pregnant

When you are pregnant, your diet needs careful planning to avoid compromising you or your child. Plus, you don’t want to wonder, as your child grows, if your diet had something to do with his or her developmental delays. If there is a stage in a woman’s life where she has to be vigilant with what she eats, pregnancy is it. If you’d like a solid start, here is some useful advice on how to eat healthy while pregnant.

 Eat right. Avoid eating a whole lot more. Eating more than you typically would is a common misconception of pregnancy. You hear so many women say, “I'm eating for two now.” While that is true, remember—you're not eating for two grown adults. Instead, the key to a healthy diet during pregnancy lies in eating right. Get more protein, eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, and ensure you're getting ample minerals like folic acid and iron, ideally, six months before you plan on getting pregnant. You'll need a slight increase in calories for extra energy and the baby's growth, but how much of it depends on your weight. Generally, you'll need no extra calories during the first trimester, only 300 extra during the second, and 450 extra during the third.

numbers will change based on your weight. For some women, 200 extra calories are all that is needed during the third trimester, so consult your physician to ensure you're not under- or over-eating.

  1. Cut the caffeine. This can be a difficult one for those who are reliant on their caffeine, but it is important for a healthy pregnancy. Studies have shown that caffeine consumption of one or more 12 oz. cups a day increases side effects like headaches as well as makes women twice as likely to miscarry. Caffeine consumption in large amounts has also been linked to low birth weight and stillbirth.

  2. Include dairy. Calcium is an extremely important part of any pregnancy diet, so don't forget to take your prenatal dose. You should consume around four servings of dairy products a day to ensure that you're getting 1000-1300 mg daily. Dairy sources include milk, cream, eggs, and cheese.

  3. Know your vitamin sources. Because getting vitamins and minerals during pregnancy is of the essence, knowing where the most important vitamins come from and consuming these foods is important. Vitamin C can be found in oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, honeydew, broccoli, cauliflower, and tomatoes. Folic acid can be found in dark leafy greens and legumes. Vitamin A is found in sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots, apricots, and cantaloupe. Get a six-month head start on folic acid consumption to avoid fetal neural tube defects (the inability of the brain, spine, and spinal cord to fuse properly).

  4. Limit fish intake and banish high-mercury fish altogether. Don't eat any raw fish. If you're an avid sushi eater, you'll have to go for cooked fish, cooked rolls or vegetable rolls, or vegetable sushi during this period. You'll also want to limit your fish intake to around twice a week, to two six-ounce portions. When you do eat fish, eliminate king mackerel, tilefish, shark, and swordfish as they contain high mercury levels. Keep an eye on mercury levels in other fish as well since they can fluctuate and may alter your regular fish of choice.

  5. Eat regularly. While eating when you feel hungry is a good idea, it's also important that you eat regularly. Even if you're just having a snack, eating regularly ensures that your little one never has to go hungry. Most physicians recommend that you have three well-balanced meals a day and two to three healthy snacks between these meals. If you're unable to eat large meals, try eating five to six small meals instead.

Diet is most crucial in the early stages of pregnancy, and as with folic acid, even well before that. Learning how to eat healthy while pregnant is the key to the normal development of your baby, so take no chances with food fads and gimmicks.


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