Rules to Eat by:

  1. Most foods in moderation are safe
  2. Portion control and variety will ensure a healthy diet and normal weight gain
  3. It is best to eat smaller, more frequent meals, to optimize sugar metabolism. Overall your body will process foods faster than when you are not pregnant, so you will hit less sugar low points if you eat a snack or complete meal up to 5 times a day
  4. Caloric intake increases while you are pregnant to accommodate the work your body is doing throughout the day and night. Usually, you will be asked to add 500 calories a day to your diet. If you are overweight, recommendations for caloric intake will vary.
  5. In any given day during your pregnancy try to enjoy on average,  3 servings of dairy products, 3-4 servings each of fruits and vegetables, 5-6 servings of proteins and 5 servings of carbohydrates.
  6. A healthy diet is important for infant and maternal health, ensuring good fetal growth and appropriate maternal weight gain

Average Weight Gain in Pregnancy

BMI Weight gain during pregnancy
<19 (underweight) 25-40 lbs
19-24.9 (normal weight) 25-35 lbs
25-29.9 (overweight) 15-25 lbs
>30 (obese) 11-20 lbs
*twins 30-45 lbs

* special circumstances that require 10-15 lbs additional weight gain from the starting BMI

Foods to Avoid:

  1. Alcohol
  2. Raw Fish
  3. Unpasteurized cheeses and dairy products
  4. Raw Eggs

Foods to Limit/Moderate:

Deli Meat – Deli meats have been a source of dietary restriction due to concerns about exposure to infection and chemicals. Well-cooked deli meats and cold cuts are safe to eat in moderation. It is best to avoid cold cuts that have high nitrite content or red dye no 4. Reading package descriptions can be helpful.

Helpful Hints for avoiding non-baby friendly foods:

  • Eat nitrite free deli meats
  • Eat the deli meat that is freshly made at the market
  • If you purchase pre-packed deli meat or have it freshly carved but it is stored moist in plastic there is a slightly higher chance you could be exposed to unwanted bacteria. This issues can be resolved if you microwave or heat  the meat before use or before repacking it at home (layering the meat between parchment or wax paper can help)
  • Minimize the number of servings you eat per week of darker deli meats that carry more nitrite, such as salami, bologna, and hot dogs. No more than 2-3 servings a week of these foods would be optimal.
  • If you are planning to eat out at a sandwich shop- choose to heat your sandwich or make sure the meat seems to be fresh, not sitting in water where it can breed bacteria.

Caffeine– limited caffeine intake can reduce dehydration, gi upset and bladder irritability (which leads to more frequent urination, a common issue for most pregnant women already). Most studies show that it is safe to imbibe caffeinated products while pregnant as long as they are limited to 2 servings daily.

Helpful Hints:

  • Limit your caffeinated beverages and food to  < 1-2 servings  daily
  • Drink a glass of water with each glass of caffeine with each caffeinated beverage you drink to avoid any dehydration.
  • Chocolate doesn’t count- the amount of caffeine in chocolate is minimal.
  • It is surprising to most people that there is almost as much caffeine in a dark tea as in coffee.

Caffeine Content:

Beverages Caffeine (mg)
Coffee, 8 fl oz 130
Expresso 1 fl oz 40-90
Tea, black or green 20-36
Soft Drinks  12 fl oz 35-50
Hot chocolate 1 oz pack 3-8
Milk or Dark chocolate 1 oz 6-20

Fish products– all fish are not created equal! You can consume up to 4 servings of fish a week safely before and during pregnancy to avoid concerning exposure to mercury.

Helpful Hints:

  • We prefer that you eat fish that is cooked or smoked.
  • You should limit your overall fish consumption to 4 servings weekly.
  • Canned tuna is an excellent source of Omega-3’s but stick to the “cheap stuff”. Chunk light has less mercury content than albacore.
  • The highest mercury contents can be found in swordfish, tilefish, mackerel, and mahi-mahi.

Artificial Sweeteners – Limiting unnecessary chemicals in foods you eat while you are pregnant is common sense. You will not harm your future offspring if you have a diet coke occasionally. In general, using a natural sugar source is thought to be better than using a sugar substitute. If you use like to use honey, chose a brand that is pasteurized.