A pregnant person holding a salad in front of them.

Pregnancy Diet Plan

Eating right is important for your baby. I’m sure you have heard that before. What expecting mother hasn’t? While you may get how important proper nutrition is, it can sometimes feel like one more thing to stress over. That’s where a pregnancy diet plan comes in. It is the first step to getting the necessary nutrition for yourself and your baby.

We can talk all day about the wrong foods vs. right foods, but in the end, it boils down to something simple: getting a large variety of nutrient-dense foods to ensure your baby gets the variety of nutrients it needs. These guidelines can be used while breastfeeding too. That’s why knowing what you should eat is so important. Read on to find out what to include and what to avoid for your pregnancy diet plan!

Facing Cravings

Life would be easy if you only craved a good stir fry or quinoa salad, but most times, pregnancy cravings tend to be more on the junk food side. Keep in mind, if the craving is not harmful to the mom or baby, then it is fine. However, craving something like paint is concerning and you should see your doctor about it.

So, there you have it. You have permission from a specialist to indulge in some ice cream and potato chips if you crave it; just don’t sprinkle paint over it. Remember, cravings aren’t your enemy; just be sure to get your nutrients in as well. Recommendations will also vary depending on if moms have other health risks and conditions.

What Should You Eat?

The simplest and most practical way to remember what to eat is to use the food groups on myplate.gov. It’s a useful, virtual guideline of what your food groups should look like on your plate. But, get this, it doesn’t have to be on a plate. Soups, smoothies and other snack options are ways you can get nutrition, but we will get to that later on. First, here are some of the main food groups, where to source them and most importantly, how to incorporate them into your diet in a way that you can enjoy them.

1. Fruit and Vegetables

You can get the widest variety of nutrients from fruits and vegetables. You’ll get all the fiber, vitamins and minerals that your diet should provide by eating colorful vegetables and fruits. Some of the best foods you can include are carrots, beets, kale, string beans, oranges, pineapples, grapes and mangoes.

However, if morning sickness is keeping you from eating, then who says you have to eat them? How about drinking your daily fruit intake with a smoothie or fresh fruit juice? If those don’t work either, then an all-natural sorbet or real fruit popsicle should do the trick for your fruits, while soups and sauces are great for getting in those vegetables.

2. Protein

For a great source of lean protein, try lean meats like chicken breasts, tenderloin and sirloin. If you are a vegetarian or vegan or just want to cut down your meat intake, then beans, peas, nuts and soy products are excellent sources of plant-based protein. Most of these protein-rich foods can be ground up, seasoned and shaped into burger patties or meatballs. Yes, even peas and beans. Best of all, you can include some shredded veggies in your patty mix at this point.

3. Whole Grains

Next up are the nutrients found in oats, whole wheat bread and pasta and brown rice. You will be giving your body a lot of fiber, minerals, B vitamins and antioxidants as well. But you don’t have to sit and eat oatmeal and brown rice on their own. There are tons of breakfast cereals, granola bars, smoothie mixes and snacks that get you whole grains. Plus, you can mix it up and try overnight oats with your favorite fruits or a quinoa salad with roasted veggies.

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Foods to Avoid While Pregnant

1. Alcohol

According to the Center for Disease Control, no amount of alcohol is safe to drink while pregnant. Alcohol consumption can even cause birth defects, including brain, heart and facial defects.

2. Coffee and Caffeinated Teas

A cup of coffee is a great pick me up, especially in the morning time. Unfortunately, your little one is unable to process caffeine. Don't forget that decaf still has a tiny amount of caffeine, so herbal teas are your best choice for a hot breakfast beverage.

3. Undercooked Meat and Fish

This one is a big no-no while pregnant. No matter how carefully it has been prepared, there is still the chance of contracting unsafe bacteria and the added risk of transmitting the infection without even knowing. Raw sushi, rare steaks and processed meats are all foods to avoid while pregnant.

4. Certain Types of Fish

Shark, tuna, marlin and swordfish may be tasty popular choices, but they are not safe during pregnancy. High levels of mercury in the ocean can cause these fish to be toxic, risking damage to your baby's nervous and immune systems.

5. Unwashed Produce and Some Sprouts

Vegetables like alfalfa sprouts and mung bean sprouts are grown in conditions ideal for bacterial growth. Cooking them thoroughly before eating destroys the unsafe bacteria and makes them delicious vegetables instead of a pregnancy hazard.

When to Talk to Your Doctor

Within eight weeks of your last menstrual cycle, you should have the first visit just to be sure everything is okay. You can find out when your baby is due at this visit, check out any risk factors and plan a schedule of visits. After this, any excessive vomiting, diarrhea or bleeding is a sure sign to get to the emergency room.

Even though pregnancy can be filled with many scary risk factors, you can remove a bunch of worries. Having a creative and well-thought-out pregnancy diet plan helps ensure your baby is healthy.