Foods For A Healthy Pregnancy: What To Eat, What To Avoid

One of the most important things you can do throughout your pregnancy is maintain your diet and nutrition. As your baby develops, it takes everything it needs from the nutrients and vitamin stores you have in your body. By making sure you eat enough of the right foods for a healthy pregnancy, not only do you give your growing baby an incredible head start while still in utero, you safeguard your own health.

At your prenatal appointments, your doctor will visit with you about any specific concerns or recommendations they may have about your diet. But in general, they will most likely recommend that you start a daily regimen of a prenatal vitamin and to strive for a well-balanced diet of fruits, proteins, grains, vegetables and dairy.

Below is a general overview of the best foods for a healthy pregnancy and their recommended servings. Also covered are foods that should only be consumed in moderation, as well as what foods you should avoid.

Eat Lots Of These

Fruits and vegetables

Focus on including fruits and vegetables in your diet as much as you can, particularly during the second and third trimesters. Colorful fruits and vegetables are an incredible low-calorie source of the minerals, vitamins and fiber needed during pregnancy. Set a goal for 5 to 10 servings per day.

Lean protein

Good sources of lean protein at every meal will help to support the baby’s growth. Protein-rich foods include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, tofu, cheese, milk, nuts and seeds.

Whole grains

Whole grains are an important source of energy in your diet. You’ll also find them to contain B-vitamins, iron, and fiber. During pregnancy, your daily carbohydrate choices should be in the form of whole grains like the following: brown rice, oatmeal, and whole-wheat bread.


Dairy foods such as cheese, yogurt, and milk are a rich source of calcium, Vitamin D and protein. During pregnancy, your daily intake of dairy should be about three or four servings.

Limit Your Intake


Moderate caffeine consumption is safe during pregnancy. The current recommendation is set at less than 200 mg of caffeine daily. This amount is equivalent to one 12-ounce cup of coffee.


Fish is a wonderful source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids (namely, sardines and salmon).  Safe choices for fish consumption in pregnancy include:

  • Pollack
  • Shrimp
  • Salmon
  • Catfish
  • Canned light tuna  

The recommended serving of fish during pregnancy is 8 to 12 ounces a week. However, pregnant women are advised to limit consumption of albacore tuna to 6 ounces. The reason for this is because of the high levels of mercury typically found in this fish. More details on the dangers of consuming mercury are covered in the next section of this article.

Do Not Consume


Avoid alcohol at all times during pregnancy. Alcohol in the mother’s blood can pass directly to the baby through the umbilical cord. Heavy use of alcohol during pregnancy has been linked with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, a group of conditions that can include physical problems, as well as learning and behavioral difficulties in babies and children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Fish with high levels of mercury

Seafood with high levels of mercury should be avoided during pregnancy. Mercury is a toxic chemical that can pass through the placenta and can be harmful to an unborn baby’s developing brain, kidneys and nervous system.

Avoid consuming these fish choices in pregnancy as they are high in mercury levels:

  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • Marlin
  • Orange roughy
  • King mackerel
  • Tilefish

Unpasteurized food

There are two types of food poisoning that can pose a high risk to a woman who is pregnant, Listeriosis and Toxoplasmosis.

Listeriosis, caused by the bacteria Listeria, can cause serious pregnancy complications, including miscarriage, stillbirth, and preterm labor. As a result, it’s critical to avoid the following foods, which carry a higher likelihood of harboring the Listeria bacteria:

  • Unpasteurized milk and meat
  • Unpasteurized juice or cider.
  • Store-bought deli salads and deli meat

Raw meat

Toxoplasma is a potentially harmful bacteria that can be found in raw or undercooked meat. With Toxoplasmosis, the infection can be passed from the mother to her baby. This transmission can cause blindness and hinder neural development, meaning there is a likelihood of mental disability later in life. As a result, pregnant women are strongly encouraged to ensure  their meat dishes have been fully cooked at the proper temperature. There are also specific warnings to avoid consuming the following:

  • Red meat that is not well-done
  • Sushi & sashimi
  • Ceviches
  • Carpaccio.
  • Raw shellfish
    • Clams
    • Mussels
    • Oysters
    • Scallops
  • Soft-cooked or runny eggs
  • Foods with raw egg ingredients
    • Cookie dough or cake batter
    • Tiramisu
    • Chocolate mousse
    • Hollandaise sauce.
  • Raw sprouts
    • Alfalfa
    • Clover
    • Bean sprouts

Consult with your doctor for in-depth information about selecting the right foods for a healthy pregnancy. They will be able to address any issues that may be specific to your dietary needs.

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We care about your health here at Women’s Healthcare Associates

At Women’s Healthcare Associates, in Amarillo, Texas, we have a goal to provide you with one of the best experiences in women’s care. Our professional Staff offers personal care that focuses on the health and wellbeing of our patients as individuals. Our Services include prenatal and pregnancy care, digital mammography, bone density screening, and contraception. For more information about how our comprehensive women’s healthcare can help you, please give us a call at (806) 355-6330.

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Website design and marketing by UCI Digital