Creating a Healthy Diet During Pregnancy

The importance of healthy lifestyle choices cannot be stressed enough during pregnancy, with further emphasis on good nutrition practices to maximize the growth and development of baby, while further promoting a safe delivery and good health for mom. Create a healthy pregnancy diet plan with these recommendations, tips, and healthy recipe ideas!

Healthy Weight Gain

Gaining appropriate weight gain is vital for both mom and baby, as it improves the chances of maintaining personal health and having a healthy baby. In fact, a CNN recently reported being overweight during pregnancy increases the odds of baby developing birth defects. Ultimately, the amount of healthy weight in pregnancy varies based on current weight with general guidelines including:

  • Normal total weight gain for a healthy woman is 25 to 35 pounds.
  • Overweight women should gain only 10 to 20 pounds during pregnancy.
  • Underweight women or women with multiples (twins or more) should gain 35 to 45 pounds in pregnancy.

Pregnancy Diet Plan

During pregnancy, diet is imperative to promote fetal development and good health for mom. Along with consuming a well-balanced diet filled with whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, veggies, and healthy fats, specific considerations include:


Daily calorie needs generally vary by trimester, including the rough estimates of 1,800 calories per day during the first trimester; 2,200 calories during the second trimester; and 2,400 calories during the third trimester.


Protein requirements heighten during pregnancy, with the recommendation of at least 71 grams per day. Obtain adequate protein with these 11 sources, including chicken, steak, black beans, and quinoa.


Pregnancy can increase the risk of constipation, further stressing the importance of consuming at least 25 grams of fiber per day. Drinking at least eight, 8-ounce cups and keeping active can also lessen constipation risk.


Pregnant women are encouraged to obtain 1,200 mg of calcium per day, as the mineral is imperative for developing strong bones and teeth. Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese are known for their significant calcium contribution, although orange juice with added calcium, whole grain cereals, sardines with bones, almonds and unsweetened almond milks, soybeans, and collard greens also valuable sources. Vitamin D further works to enhance the absorption of calcium, with food sources including beef, egg yolks, cheese, salmon, mackerel, tuna, and cod liver oil, along with dairy sources that are fortified with the vitamin.


Women of childbearing age should consume 400 milligrams (mg) of folate per day related to the association of neural tube defects and inadequate folate intake during early pregnancy, with the recommendation stretching throughout the entire gestational period. Beans, lentils, chickpeas, dark green veggies are considered natural sources, though folic acid also often enriches pasta and bread products.


Women tend to require more iron related to menstruation cycles and childbearing years, with 30 mg needed to support the increase in blood volume during pregnancy. Iron is found in beef, lamb, oats, lentils, pumpkin seeds, and soybeans. Working like vitamin D and calcium, vitamin C can help increase the absorption of iron.

Ultimately, all nutrients can benefit both mom and baby and are usually obtained by consuming a well-balanced diet. However, a dietary supplement may be warranted to fill-in nutritional gaps that may arise. Most healthcare professionals encourage a prenatal vitamin, along with supplementation if following a special diet. Consult with your primary care provider for further guidance regarding appropriate supplements and dosing recommendations.

Healthy Meals and Recipes for Pregnancy

Overnight Oats

Cooking a nutritious breakfast can be the last thing on your mind when getting ready for baby. But with these overnight oats recipes, you can enjoy a nutritious breakfast without the need of attentive preparation. The recipes are an oatstanding source of a number of nutrients, including fiber, folate, and iron!

Black Bean Omelet

Rich in protein and fiber, this black bean omelet is a valuable, yet simple breakfast to enjoy. And topped with fresh salsa, flavors and nutrients are exploding!


Chili is rich in protein and fiber, along with being a ready-to-eat meal to come home to as detailed in this slow-cooker turkey chili recipe. Enjoy additional convenient, high-protein crockpot recipes here.

Pita Pizza

Satisfy that pizza craving without packing on hundreds of calories by preparing these whole wheat pita bread pizzas. The pizzas are also extremely versatile, and can be topped with a lean protein source and other favorite veggies to amplify the protein and nutrient content.

Spaghetti Squash Pasta

When that pasta craving becomes unbearable, defeat it with nutritious spaghetti squash pasta. Top spaghetti squash with tomato sauce and ground beef or meatballs, as replacing traditional pasta noodles can lessen the overall calorie and carb content, while the vitamin C content in tomatoes can increase the absorption of iron supplied from beef. Find more delicious, guilt-free ways to eat spaghetti squash here.

Honey Garlic Salmon

Naturally sweetened and utilizing wholesome ingredients, this honey garlic salmon is nutritionally packed without unwanted ingredients. The salmon is low in mercury and supplies omega-3 fatty acids, a healthy fat demonstrating to be critical for fetal neurodevelopment. Pair with favorite roasted veggies for added volume, fiber, and other nutrients!

Yogurt Popsicles

Conquer that sweet tooth with homemade yogurt popsicles! Preparing the cool treat in the comfort of your own kitchen allows for ingredient control and avoids the risk of consuming unwanted artificial flavors and other additives.

Foods to Avoid

Raw and Undercooked Foods

Raw and undercooked foods pose the risk of bacterial growth that may be harmful in pregnant women, including the avoidance of raw eggs, unpasteurized milk and cheeses, and unwashed produce. Sushi prepared with mercury-containing fish, including shark, swordfish, and king mackerel, is especially a worry in pregnant women, as mercury has been linked to developmental delays and brain damage to the fetus. Pregnant women should also stray away from deli meats, as they may be contaminated with listeria. Listeria is bacteria able to cross the placenta and cause harm, or potentially fatal, to the developing baby.

Caffeinated and Alcoholic Beverages

Caffeine should be warned with caution particularly in pregnant women, with general recommendations suggesting no more than 200 milligrams per day during pregnancy. And while selecting diet soda may appear as more healthful option, new research proposes children born to women who drink at least one artificially sweetened beverage per day, along with being diagnosed with gestational diabetes, during pregnancy increases their risk of becoming overweight or obese by age seven. Additionally, there is no safe amount of alcohol identified at this time, as it can interfere with fetal development, lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, and cause harmful (yet entirely preventable) consequences.