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Healthy Foods to Eat While Pregnant

Skip the Deli Counter, Limit Caffeine, and Embrace Orange Juice

By Andrea LawrencePublished about a year ago 7 min read
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Created using Canva.

It can be tricky to know what to eat when you’re pregnant. There is conflicting information online, with people saying absurd things like don’t eat spinach or don’t eat apples. Generally, if it’s a vegetable or fruit, you can safely eat it.

If you’re expecting, you’ll likely receive a list of recommended foods from your doctor or midwife. I thought it would be helpful if I wrote an article on foods that I’ve been able to eat and keep down while pregnant. I’m almost in the third trimester, so I’ve gotten used to the prenatal diet.

Thankfully, I’ve been able to drink plenty of water (something that a lot of pregnant people struggle with), and I’ve made it through morning sickness. I’ve used some tricks to make it easier to eat and drink. I hope my suggestions work for you.

FYI: When it comes to health-related articles, I always recommend reading from several different authors. This way, you can gain information from multiple perspectives and discern what’s actually true. It’s a great idea to read from doctors and medical studies. This article is written by a pregnant mom, not a doctor.

Deli sandwiches on plates. A bowl of uncooked eggs. | Pixabay, Pexels

Foods You Shouldn’t Eat

There are a lot of things you need to remove from your diet. Certain foods and drinks can be harmful to your growing baby. These foods could also make you sick. Here is what my doctor with SSM Health recommended when it comes to nixing food:

  • Foods that contain mercury. This is found in most fish and shellfish. Some fish have a really high mercury count and should be avoided altogether. Each week, you can eat up to 12 ounces of fish or shellfish with low mercury levels. Safe-to-eat fish include tuna and salmon.
  • Limit caffeine. It’s not clear how caffeine affects pregnancy. You want to reduce it as much as possible. My doctor recommends drinking only a cup of coffee or two cups of tea daily. Avoiding it altogether might make you feel better. Generally, there is a small amount of caffeine in chocolate, so I wouldn’t stress about it too much. I, like most people, can eat chocolate before bed and still fall asleep; I can’t have coffee before bed and be able to fall asleep.
  • Raw and undercooked foods. Make sure you cook meat and avoid cold deli foods, which can potentially be contaminated with listeria. If you do eat a sandwich, get it toasted. Warm up leftovers; don’t leave food cold. Also, don’t eat raw sprouts such as alfalfa and clover.
  • Alcohol. This should be a given, but don’t drink alcohol while pregnant or nursing. Don’t take drugs, either. All prescriptions should be discussed with your doctor.
A plate of toast. | Elviss Railijs Bitāns, Pexels

Foods to Eat While Dealing With Morning Sickness

When I was struggling with morning sickness, there were certain foods that I could stomach better than others. Amazingly, some women don’t experience morning sickness at all! Others get more severe versions of it — your doctor can prescribe medicine for you if your nausea is getting out of hand.

My morning sickness came a little late into the first trimester and lasted into the first couple of weeks of the second trimester. I usually got it at dinner time, and certain things triggered it. Unfortunately, sometimes simply eating would cause me to throw up.

Morning sickness is typically temporary and not something that occurs throughout your whole pregnancy, so even though it’s annoying, just know it’s a phase that will eventually pass. Here are my tips:

  • Add ginger to ice water. I would sprinkle ground ginger into cold water, stir it, and drink it. Staying hydrated will make you feel better and will help curb your appetite.
  • Add ginger to meals. Ginger is commonly used to combat motion sickness, which is essentially how you feel when you’re nauseous. Adding ginger can make things more digestible.
  • Preggie pops! These are candies you can find online. They’re hard candies in citrus flavors. They have ginger in them. If you’re feeling a little nauseous or are about to eat a meal, I recommend taking one. You do need to watch your sugar count, so don’t eat too many in one day.
  • Saltine crackers.
  • Toast.
  • Chicken noodle soup.
  • Plain noodles with no sauce.
  • Grilled cheese and tomato soup.
  • Popcorn. A surprisingly great snack with fiber. You want all the fiber you can get, so you have a nice digestive flow.
  • Fruit smoothies. When I had morning sickness, I could usually stomach strawberries, blueberries, apples, and oranges. Bananas were, unfortunately, on the no-no list.
  • Tortillas. Cooked tortillas are simple and won’t aggravate you too much.
  • Jello. It’s easy to make, it’s got some flavor to it, and it goes down easy.

If you want to keep morning sickness at bay, eat more small meals and snacks. Small meals take less work to eat, whereas big meals demand more of your energy. It can also be hard to tell whether you’re hungry, have had enough food, or are stuffed. Making your meals smaller will help you to avoid feeling stuffed and can prevent heartburn.

Don’t wait too long to eat in the morning. You can actually throw up from hunger. If you’re going to a restaurant or to a dinner party, consider taking snacks with you. Eat crackers along the way. Emergency crackers are a good idea!

Also, don’t let yourself get too hot. When you’re overheated, you get nauseous easily. Be careful what video games and TV shows you watch. If they make you feel like you’re having motion sickness, stop and do something else.

When it comes to eating while dealing with morning sickness, the key is to eat foods that are pretty bland. Once you know something upsets your tummy, don’t try eating it for a while.

Important Foods to Eat While Pregnant

When you’re not struggling with morning sickness or other issues, you want to eat a nutrient-dense diet. It’s important to eat a balanced diet; if you rely too much on one food group, you might feel sick.

I had really strong cheese cravings in my first trimester. I ate more dairy foods than usual and was taking calcium supplements. You can probably guess what happened… I got seriously constipated. It was way worse than morning sickness. Make sure you’re not overdoing something, or else you might have to spend a lot of time in the bathroom. And in agony.

Here are some foods that are recommended by SSM Health services for a healthy diet while pregnant:

Protein Foods: Great for the Growth of Blood, Bone, Muscles, and Nerves

  • Beef
  • Bratwurst
  • Chicken
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Eggs
  • Game birds
  • Turkey
  • Venison
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Pork
  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts and seeds

If you are vegan or vegetarian, there is a good chance you’ll need to take iron supplements. Growing a fetus takes extra work from your body, and the baby will take from your nutrient reservoirs. This is not a good time to try being vegetarian for the first time.

For those who already are vegetarian, you may want to consider taking a break from your lifestyle, so you can get plenty of protein and iron for both you and your little one. Definitely talk to your doctor about this.

Oranges in rows. | Engin Akyurt, Pexels

Vitamin C Rich Foods: Great for Iron Absorption and Immunity

  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Cantaloupe
  • Potatoes
  • Oranges
  • Green peppers
  • Grapefruit
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon

Drinking smoothies and juice can help nourish you and your baby. A cup of fresh fruits in liquid form is refreshing in the morning.

Caution: Don’t add extra sugar to smoothies. Also, read labels on juices to see how much “added sugar” is in the mix. You want to buy products that have less sugar. Natural fruit sugar, fructose, is okay.

A glass of milk and a pitcher of milk. | Charlotte May, Pexels

Calcium-Rich Foods for Developing Baby’s Bones

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Bok choy
  • Kale
  • Orange juice
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower

Do be careful and avoid non-pasteurized cheeses. In the United States, most cheeses are pasteurized. The non-pasteurized cheeses run the risk of having listeria. One of the more popular NP cheeses is blue cheese.

Also, look for yogurt that has less added sugar. When you’re pregnant, you will read many more food labels. You’re going to find sugar is hiding in just about everything, along with its cousin, high fructose corn syrup. I’ve tried to keep my added sugar below 30g a day.

If I wake up in the middle of the night, I usually feel better after drinking a cup of milk. Sometimes I wake up because I’m a little hungry, other times I wake up because the fetus is kicking me, and often I need to get up to take a trip to the bathroom. Sleep interruptions are common. It’s a good idea to go to bed earlier and expect you might be waking up and falling asleep a lot in one night.

Slices of watermelon. | Any Lane, Pexels

Foods for Energy Levels (B Vitamins and Iron)

  • Bananas
  • Broccoli
  • Chickpeas
  • Cereals with 45% or more daily allowance for iron
  • Dried fruits
  • Enriched bread
  • Enriched pasta
  • Enriched rice
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Watermelon
  • Winter squash

A quick way to get what you need is to have a bowl of cereal with bananas and strawberries. When in doubt, look for vegetables and fruits to satisfy your cravings.

Folic Acid

  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Peanuts
  • Beans

Folic acid is in most prenatal vitamins. You want to start taking vitamins BEFORE you get pregnant. If you have older relatives, they may question why you’re taking them. Prenatals became popular in the ’90s, so parents of ’80s babies might not know about them.

FYI: Some prenatal vitamins don’t taste that great. It might take you a moment to get used to the fishy taste. Prenatals help with your child’s brain development and help prevent defects.

More Information

One of my favorite YouTubers who talks about pregnancy is Jessica Pumple. She is a registered dietician who also does prenatal workout videos. She has videos on meal plans and also for different pregnancy diets, like if you’re struggling with gestational diabetes.

Pumple’s YouTube channel is an excellent source for pregnancy education. She’s also a really kind and supportive person — she never talks down to her audience. Her food suggestions are a little more creative, so if you’re tired of eating the same five things — check out her videos. I’ve posted one below so you can get a feel for her.

Originally published: https://thehubpublication.com/healthy-foods-to-eat-while-pregnant-8e4c9650f37a

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About the Creator

Andrea Lawrence

Freelance writer. Undergrad in Digital Film and Mass Media. Master's in English Creative Writing. Spent six years working as a journalist. Owns one dog and two cats.

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