BHealthy Blog

3 Foods to Eat and 3 to Avoid During Pregnancy

Carly Davis, MS, RDN, LD
NICU Clinical Dietitian

You’re responsible for the nutrition of another person now, and it’s a fact that pregnant women have higher nutrition needs than the rest of the population. This is designed to be a “cheat sheet” for you when it comes to foods to eat and avoid during your pregnancy! 

Always be sure to consult your physician before making drastic changes in your diet.

Avoid Consuming These Foods During Pregnancy

1. The most important rule of pregnancy: stay away from alcohol

What you eat and drink, your baby does too!  During pregnancy, drinking alcohol is not recommended, in fact, there is no known “safe” amount of alcohol to consume as your fetus’s brain is developing. Nope, not even that “one glass” of red wine.

2. Raw/undercooked fish

Sushi and undercooked fish are dangerous during pregnancy due to the viruses and bacteria that can potentially cause food poisoning. However, cooked shellfish is a completely different story! While there are some types of fish you need to stay away from due to high levels of mercury, here is a list of fish that are safe (and beneficial) to consume if fully cooked while pregnant:

  • Salmon
  • Anchovies
  • Herring
  • Sardines
  • Trout
  • Atlantic and Pacific Mackerel

All these options are low in mercury and high in omega-3 fatty acids.

3. Caffeine – stay away, unless consumed in moderation

This is a tough one for many pregnant women. Caffeine is not something that you have to cut out completely, but the recommended amount of caffeine to consume per day for pregnant women is between 150 mg and 300 mg. This equates to one 8 oz. serving of brewed coffee per day. Why? Caffeine does cross the placenta to your baby which may cause fetal arrhythmias, miscarriages, or low birth weight.

Go for These 3 Foods During Pregnancy

1. Avocado

Avocados are full of healthy fats that are helpful during your pregnancy. Studies have shown that the fats in avocados reduce cholesterol. Avocados contain more folate per ounce than any other fruit or vegetable out there, making it the perfect healthy addition to everyday eating during pregnancy.

2. Legumes (beans, peas or lentils) – a great source of protein!

It’s a common occurrence: pregnant women can often develop meat aversions. Legumes are an excellent way to ensure that you’re still getting the protein that your body needs. For example, 1 cup of black beans can give you about 15 grams of protein. In addition to protein, you’ll also get fiber. Fiber is an important part of your diet while pregnant, as it nourishes the gut microbiome and stabilizes blood glucose levels. Legumes also contribute folate; an important vitamin that prevents the risk of neural tube defects in your developing baby.

3. Mixed greens (especially spinach)

Greens are good for you even if you’re not pregnant – but cooked spinach is high in folate acid and iron. Many pregnant women suffer from anemia during pregnancy, and the extra nutrients and vitamins from leafy greens go a long way in treating it.