Food Babe Kitchen - New York Times Bestseller - Header

My Favorite Healthy Pregnancy Foods!

I’m in the home stretch of my first pregnancy and I thought it would be fun to give you a little insight into what I’ve been eating! If you’ve been following me on social media (Instagram: thefoodbabe & foodbabemama), you know I am a very non-processed organic real food gal! I’ve been taking my commitment to staying on track with my eating principles even more seriously while pregnant and even while indulging in the occasional treat. My latest obsession is frozen grapes to curb that sudden sweet tooth I’m experiencing this month. I’ve never had such a roller coaster of cravings before in my life (I know you other pregnant women can relate!). The first trimester was all things salty and heavy like breads, crackers and pastas and now in my second trimester it’s salads, vegetables and desserts – I can only imagine what the third trimester will bring with the holidays coming up!

img_3334-2

While you’ve got a growing baby inside you, it’s more important than ever to nourish your body with the right foods. You need to keep yourself healthy while preparing for labor and motherhood, and you also are providing your baby everything it needs to be strong and healthy. In the second trimester, your baby can actually start to taste the food you are eating! Knowing that gives me serious motivation to stay away from controversial food additives and processed foods that screw with your sense of taste or satisfaction!

I’ve been doing a lot of research into the specific nutrients that I need during pregnancy, and compiled a list here of my favorite pregnancy foods for all of the other new mommas-to-be out there. I also included some of my favorite recipes here too, to make it easy for you to add these foods to your diet. 

Keep in mind that there are a few foods that pregnant women should avoid like deli meats, raw cheese and some fish and sushi, but, most healthy foods are fair game! Of course, always ask your doctor if there are any specific foods you should be avoiding. 

New research out of the U.K. is finding a link between mothers who ate a diet of sugary and high-fat processed foods during pregnancy and ADHD in their children. As you probably know, I’m already pretty careful about the food I eat and mostly stick to whole unprocessed foods. That being said, there are some specific nutrients that are known to be especially important to eat during pregnancy – so if you aren’t eating them already, now is the time!

My Favorite Foods For Pregnancy:

1. Beans & Lentils

Folate (a water soluble B vitamin) is one of the most important nutrients to eat if you are either pregnant or hoping to get pregnant. Folate has been shown to protect against neural tube defects in newborns, so many experts advise eating up to 400 to 600 micrograms of folate leading up to and during pregnancy. Instead of eating the synthetic version (folic acid) found “fortified” cereals and breads, seek out natural sources of folate found in whole foods. Beans and lentils are some of the best natural sources out there, so add them to your meals often! Beans are also high in iron, another crucial nutrient during pregnancy. Your body needs almost twice the amount of iron while you are pregnant and you are at a greater risk of developing anemia or labor and delivery complications when you aren’t getting enough. This is especially important if you are a vegan or vegetarian!

Recipes to try:

2. Green Drinks

Smoothies and juices made with mostly vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals that help to keep your immune system strong during pregnancy. Folate is also prevalent in most green drinks that are made with leafy greens or beets! Leafy greens like kale and collards are excellent sources of calcium – and if you are a vegan, it’s especially important to make sure that you are getting enough calcium during pregnancy. Fill up your blender or juicer with greens like romaine lettuce, spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens, parsley, and collard greens. Throw some ground flaxseeds into your green smoothies to add an additional boost of folate and nutrients. Warning: Try not to overdo the beet juice, I did that once in my first Trimester and let’s just say it did not stay down! It’s always good to remember natural foods when juiced can be very potent too. 

Recipes to try:

3. Figs

Figs are amazing for you during pregnancy, as they are rich sources of folate, calcium, and iron – all especially important nutrients to eat during pregnancy. The vitamin K in figs is helpful for proper blood clotting, which is necessary during childbirth and helps you to recover. Figs are said to have a sedative effect on your mood, so they can help to keep you feeling happy and positive during your pregnancy…oh yeah! They are also packed with fiber to help keep things moving. 😀

Recipe to try:

4. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids (more than any other plant food). You may want to limit or avoid eating fish during pregnancy due to its mercury content, but you still need to make sure you’re getting your omega-3s! Your body can convert the type of omega-3’s in chia seeds (AHA) to make DHA, which growing babies need for healthy brain development. Chia seeds keep you full by slowing down your digestion and help to keep your blood sugar in check. Chia seeds are also high in antioxidants and very high in minerals like calcium and iron, of which your body requires more of during pregnancy.

Recipes to try:

5. Coconut

All forms of coconut (water, milk, oil, meat) are super good for you during pregnancy! Coconuts (especially the water) provide both calcium and magnesium, which are essential for the developing baby – and if you don’t eat enough, your body will take it from your bones putting you at risk for osteoporosis. Coconut water is also excellent for replenishing your body if you’re experiencing morning sickness. Some people swear that the electrolytes in coconut water can also alleviate painful leg swelling during pregnancy. Coconut oil is antiviral and boosts your immunity to help keep you from getting sick, and the fat will help your body process fat-soluble vitamins to give you and your baby more nutrition from the foods you eat. Applying the oil to your growing belly can also prevent stretch marks. Coconuts are full of lauric acid, which can enhance your breast milk after you deliver your baby. Fresh coconut is always best, but when buying packaged versions choose organic products that are minimally processed without sugar and additives. Check out my buying tips for coconut water, coconut milk, and oils before you head to the store.

Recipes to try:

6. Fresh Ginger

Here I’m talking about fresh ginger root – not supplements! It can be dangerous to take ginger supplements during pregnancy because they are so potent, and you would want to ask your doctor before taking supplements or eating fresh ginger to be on the safe side. It’s been shown that fresh ginger is likely safe during pregnancy as long as you don’t overdo it – and can be really beneficial. Ginger can help to relieve morning sickness. It also increases your circulation and supplies your body with iron and vitamin C.

Recipes to try:

7. Carrots (and other orange produce like Mangos!)

The beta-carotene (provitamin A) in these help your growing baby develop healthy eyes and organs. It also helps to prepare your body for childbirth because it helps with postpartum tissue repair – so, make sure to eat lots of these when you are close to your due date! The magnesium in mangos are also a useful remedy for leg cramps. 

Recipes to try:

8. Fresh Basil

It seems so simple, but this delicious herb is packed with nutrients that your pregnant body needs like iron, calcium, and folate. Fresh basil is also rich in numerous vitamins and other minerals that help to keep you from getting sick. Just make sure you pick up the fresh basil leaves (and not the dried version in jars) from the store. It’s also super easy to grow at home in a sunny window. The easiest way to add this to your diet is to throw some into a green salad or you could layer it over slices of tomatoes and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Recipes to try:

9. Avocados

Avocados are one of the richest sources of vitamin B6, which helps relieve morning sickness in some people. This vitamin is also excellent for proper brain development in the womb. Avocados are also loaded with folate, potassium and vitamin C.

Recipes to try:

10. Pumpkin Seeds

When you are pregnant your body produces more red blood cells to help your baby grow, and that’s why it’s important to eat enough iron everyday. Pumpkin seeds are one of the best sources of iron, along with folate and omega 3 fatty acids to help with fetal brain development. These are easy to add to your diet. You can snack on them, throw them in smoothies, or top salads with them.

Recipes to try:

11. Fermented Foods and Prebiotics

Probiotics and prebiotics are both important and I’m glad folks are starting to learn more about why you need healthy bacteria in your gut. In Chinese Medicine, they believe that most diseases start from the gut. It’s all about whether or not your healthy bacteria can crowd out the bad. The fermentation process increases the nutritional value of food. Many fermented foods are good sources of K2 (a vitamin that is rare in most diets and good for your baby) and B vitamins, including B-12.

I love to add fermented veggies (like kimchi) to my plate almost everyday. I also take a probiotic everyday first thing in the morning for my insurance that I have a belly full of good bacteria. You can find it in the refrigerator section at vitamins stores or natural food markets and make sure to choose one with an enteric coating that allows the pill to slowly be absorbed by your body throughout the day.

It’s also essential to regularly eat foods that naturally contain “Prebiotics” – this is the stuff that feeds the good bacteria that’s already in your gut and helps it to grow. Prebiotic-rich foods include whole foods like radishes, bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, radicchio, asparagus, artichokes, and legumes.

Recipes to try:

12. Wild Fish (low-mercury varieties) – Salmon, Trout, Sardines, Shrimp and Herring

Some in the nutrition world opt to completely eliminate fish from their diets while pregnant and go for a supplement instead. But I’ve read about too many positive reasons to eat low-mercury fish twice a week for a growing baby. For example “in one large Danish study, children whose mothers ate the most fish during pregnancy (an average of 14 ounces a week) had better motor and cognitive skills at 6 months and at 18 months than those whose mothers ate little fish. And those whose mothers ate the least fish had the lowest developmental scores.” And this becomes even more important when you are breastfeeding after the baby is born too. One rule of thumb – I avoid the highest mercury fish like the plague – Tuna, Marlin, Shark, Swordfish, etc.  

Recipes to try:

I have to admit, it was hard limiting this list to just 12!  There are so many more amazingly delicious foods that are healthy to eat during pregnancy (or anytime!)… so these are just some of my personal favorites. If you haven’t tried any of them before, I hope this motivates you to try something new! 

If you know anyone who is pregnant (or is trying to be), share this post to them. Here’s to all of us having healthy and happy pregnancies! 

Xo,

Vani

 

Food Babe Kitchen - Book
Food Babe Grocery Guide

Sign Up For Updates

And Get A FREE Healthy Grocery Guide Sent To You Now!

Find out what to buy and where at the top grocery stores near you

Posts may contain affiliate, sponsorship and/or partnership links for products Food Babe has approved and researched herself. If you purchase a product through an affiliate, sponsorship or partnership link, your cost will be the same (or at a discount if a special code is offered) and Food Babe will benefit from the purchase. Your support is crucial because it helps fund this blog and helps us continue to spread the word. Thank you.

53 responses to “My Favorite Healthy Pregnancy Foods!

  1. I would love to see more info about the prenatals and supplement you are taking during pregnancy. Also, what is your input on consuming turmeric while you are trying to conceive and during pregnancy?

      1. My daughter in law wants to get pregnant- and heard that taking prenatal vitamins could help. I’ve asked Food Babe but never got aN answer. Can’t figure out why she wouldn’t say one way or another.

      2. I am not trying to hide anything about prenatal vitamins ladies… haha. I have answered several times on social before too 🙂 It’s a lot to keep up with! I actually don’t take a prenatal – I follow these guidelines when taking a multi-vitamin: https://foodbabe.com/faq/#faq29-go

    1. Hi Food Babe. Thank you for sharing this. I feel like I have read everything on what to eat so I’m getting all the good stuff for baby and of course, me.

      I am curious about the same things as Lesley.

      I have been increasing my greens intake to try and get more vitamin k. I started taking alfalfa capsules too. I am NOT comfortable injectingmy baby with vitamin k.

      Anything I have read says “ask for oral vitamin k instead of injection.” The hospital where I had my first doesn’t offer the oral vitamin k. I have been told there is no “approved” oral vitamin k (in US) to give baby. Only Europe has oral available. Go-figure.

      I am glad to see there are other foods (that I love) besides kale, to get my vitamin k!

    2. Look what she is eating? Do you think she really needs a prenatal vitamin when she is consuming everything they need from fresh whole organic foods? Her baby is going to be a health star!!!

  2. Congratulations!! If the woman does not take enough calcium, magnesium, Vit D when they are pregnant this is what causes crooked teeth, bad eye sight in the babay due to the bones in the mouth and or eye socket not forming correctly.

  3. When your near your due date and very ready ….I read and suggested this to birthing mothers ….Eggplant Parmesan seems to help hasten the birth ….Don’t listen to me ..google it and read the articles…….Praying for you and your loved ones ….Mike Carney

  4. This is about the beet juice I’ve seen it advertised and couldn’t find it in your posting what you wrote about it and I’m curious of your opinion, thank you !

    1. She said that she drank too much beet juice and it didn’t stay down. Too much of even good foods can be bad sometimes. I know beets are high in oxylates so that could be the cause. I was making beet kvass this summer and decided to eat a few raw beets and my throat was burning for hours.

      1. Lord, girl, I bet your throat was burning. Too much of any one thing can set up a huge imballance. Of course you already know that. I had the loveliest beet crop, they are so pretty and fun to grow!

  5. Congratulations on the new baby! I am curious if you have looked at the ingredients in baby formula on the market. I was not able to breast feed my children and when I had to use formula I was shocked at the amount of different name brands the had high fructose corn syrup in them, some were the first ingredient. I hope you can do something about it. When I was shopping for formula,about 7 years ago , I was only able to find one kind that did not have high fructose in it. Of course it was also the most expensive. I hope there is something that you can do to help out mother’s who were in my situation.

  6. Good Day Food Babe Mommy to Be,

    Just a word of advice when eating fish. If your concerned about the mercury content you can eat strawberries, chlorella or peanut butter with your fish. Mike Adams proved in his lab that eating these foods with foods that you think may be high in mercury can block the mercury from going into your system. Instead the fibers from these foods will bind with the mercury and you will pass them out when you go number 2!!!!

    http://www.naturalnews.com/046044_mercury_in_fish_strawberries_peanut_butter.html

    Enjoying being a Mother!!!!!!

    Beans

  7. What Happened When I Drank too Much Beet Juice? 10 Minutes of Looking and I Gav r Up. Get Organized.

  8. I am curious what prenatal you are taking as well! I am taking Garden of Life Raw Organic Prenatal. Thanks!

  9. What are some natural pain relief remedies you will be using when you are in labor with contractions and so on after your baby is born?

  10. Heard and read a few years ago about beets and sugar beets nationwide being all GMO’s. Not sure you would want to eat any type of beets during pregnancy since they make no secret about it they went 100% gmo. Research it and you will find it’s not something that should be incorporate into your diet at all pregnant or not.
    IMHO.

  11. For those of you who are asking about which prenatal vitamins Food Babe takes. I think she’s avoiding answering your questions because vitamins aren’t FDA approved so blogs such as this are not allowed to give health advice on vitamins. I could be wrong but the same thing happens with discussions on essential oils because they’re not FDA approved either, so it limits people who run blogs in what they can say about them. The FDA will not allow giving health advice on products that aren’t FDA approved. Talk about prescription meds all you want of course, as they are FDA approved.

  12. Vani,

    Congratulations! So happy for you! Don’t forget to eat good quality dark chocolate during pregnancy. This study from Yale found it reduced the risk of preeclampsia by nearly 70%!

    http://news.yale.edu/2008/04/30/chocolate-may-be-boon-pregnant-women-yale-study-shows

    Most women are afraid that chocolate has either too much sugar or too much caffeine, but neither is true for Wei of Chocolate. Each piece is only 2 grams of organic coconut sugar, and only as much caffeine as 2 cups of Decaf. Well worth the benefits! : )

    Love following your pregnancy journey! Enjoy –

  13. Lentils and beans! You clearly don’t have a problem with pregnancy and gas!! LOL! Had to add many foods including this to my do not eat list.

  14. i think it would be great if you created a Food Babe Cook Book/ Food Prep Book for sale with emphasis on ingredients & methods…

  15. I’ve been taking prenatals for 15 years as a multi vitamin. The only thing I can tell you guys is to watch out for colors, soy, and gummies that are full of sugar. Vani says not to eat deli meats probably in fear of listeria or it could be that it’s processed. Not sure, but could she clarify because all doctors will tell you it’s ok to eat deli meats. I hope she can clarify.

    1. Deli meats are processed, that is why she advises against them. She’s very much against processed foods because of the additives and preservatives.

  16. Vani — I have no doubt you will be an amazing & wonderful parent. It’s your approach to it which propels my comments. When you announced being pregnant, you stated something to the effect that your parents are becoming elderly, so it seemed the time that you become pregnant. I refrained from responding to that, but your comment here that you write about this being your first pregnancy, implies that you could be considering more children in the future. I take a position of Zero Population Growth, & I am active with the Center for Biological Diversity, & realize my beliefs of reigning in human population is not a popular stance. You do so much good for people & therefore Planet Earth, again, you will be an amazing parent. However, please consider that an Overpopulated world affects Food Resources, too.

  17. Congratulations on your pregnancy! Of course, breast feeding is the best, but for those where this is not an option, it would be nice to have a healthier option available.

  18. Thanks for the great information. I would like to more information on baby food brands. Obviously the best is to make your own food but if you had to buy food which brands are the best.

  19. I’m pregnant with my first as well and still in my first trimester. I have been following Foodbabe for a long time now. How exciting to also have great advice during pregnancy…Here’s to healthy mamas and babies! Excited to add these foods to my weekly meal plans.

  20. Curious if you will consider “baby-led weaning” instead of the conventional purees after breastfeeding.

  21. Folks, Would be Mommy’s and anyone else ….if any of you wish to try the most wholesome 100% Sourdough made from fresh ground organic flours…without any additives, preservatives, rising agents, stabilizing agents etc….Please message me at https://www.facebook.com/Sourdough.Living.Breads/
    You can also read my blog livingbreads.wordpress.com

  22. Hi Vani,
    I’ve noticed you haven’t yet talked to your readers about looking for WHERE their fish are coming from. I’m sure you know that Fukushima has been leaking for over 5 years now and it’s not going to stop anytime soon. All pacific seafood is tainted to some degree (no matter what the FDA says) and it’s getting worse everyday. And they raised the “acceptable” level of radiation in food right after it happened. It’s only a matter of time. Those reactors will be leaking for the next 120 years and we currently have NO IDEAS on how to stop it. Chernobyl had one of 4 reactors melt down. Fukushima had THREE of SIX reactors melt down and one of them held plutonium which is the deadliest form of radiation. I think you should look into this further and inform your readers at least to be aware before eating bottom feeders from the pacific (radiation sinks). And THANK YOU for all you do for the rest of the world Vani. We LOVE YOU!!!

    Monica

  23. Mangos are sugar bombs!! They will result in a massive insulin spike. Likely shouldn’t be eaten too much but if you eat with fat/protein to help lower the insulin spike.

  24. Hello you recommended a way to carry foods that were not in plastic containers.. Could you send me that link?
    Thanks.

  25. Thank you so much for sharing this list! I’ve been blessed with 9 healthy pregnancies and babies. My littlest is one this month and I’m 42. If I get the privilege to have another baby, I will be printing this out! Thank you again.
    PS I was so excited when you announced your pregnancy. Congrats and I wish you the best!!

  26. Many recent studies show that a woman’s eating habits during their pregnancy creates a ripple effect on the child’s future health. That’s why if you want your kids to grow as a healthy person in the future opt to binge with healthy foods. As a
    pregnant woman, it is essential to think before you eat, because your intake during pregnancy can make or break the health of your child. Know what foods are recommended by your physician and what to include in your daily diet.

  27. Hi! Are turmeric supplements safe to take during pregnancy? I’m in my second trimester and have heard that they are not – however I have a recurring health issue I took turmeric for in the past, and now that I haven’t been able to take it, have been having issues during the pregnancy with it flaring up. Of course my doctor who practices Western Medicine just says “it’s likely unsafe because we haven’t tested it” and I really really want to know other opinions! I use natural alternatives to medicines 99% of the time. Thank you!

  28. Vani, I have only been eating salmon for years because I know sockeye is wild caught and not farmed. I miss shrimp and other low mercury varieties as I am only able to find farmed sources everywhere around here where I live. Do you have a good source to purchase frozen wild Alaskan shrimp online?
    Thanks for EVERYTHING you to!!!!! Heidi

  29. Thank you for writing this article. I have been increasing my greens intake to try and get more vitamin. My hubby had some reserves but this article definitely helped put him at ease.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

food babe with grocery cart - footer image