Foods to eat (and avoid!) when pregnant It's hard to remember which foods to eat while pregnant versus which ones to avoid. Let's review.

Baby plus you makes two, but that doesn’t mean you need to eat for two. A common pregnancy misconception is that you should double the amount of food you eat each day.  Healthy women typically gain 25-35 pounds during pregnancy. This means you only need to eat an additional 300 calories each day. That’s not much, considering there are more than 300 calories in a coffee shop mocha. Make those extra calories count with good food choices during your pregnancy.

Are pregnancy cravings real?

I haven’t encountered a pregnant woman who didn’t have pregnancy cravings! Morning sickness in your first trimester can make it difficult to eat fruits and vegetables. This is why you may tend to crave carbs early on. When it’s hard to eat or drink without feeling sick, don’t worry about denying yourself. Instead, just limit the portion sizes of the unhealthy foods you crave so they aren’t your main source of extra calories.

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Is fish okay to eat?

Yes, you can eat fish while you are pregnant. In fact, you should eat 8-12 ounces of fish each week. Fatty fish like salmon and tuna have a lot of omega-3 fats, which are important for growing babies. But, be cautious of the mercury levels and serving size of some fish. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends you don’t eat bottom-dwelling fish like mackerel and swordfish because of their high mercury levels. And if you eat albacore tuna, don’t eat more than 6 ounces per week. You can find a bunch of yummy recipes for fish at

What vitamins are important?

Your doctor will recommend you take a prenatal vitamin each day to give your baby the extra nutrients needed for growth.

Depending on your vitamin, you may need to eat certain foods to get additional supplements.

  • Omega-3: These are found in fatty fish like salmon and tuna, walnuts, flaxseed meal or oil, soybeans or soybean oil and chia seeds.
  • Iron: Increase your iron by eating a diet rich in meat, beans, lentils and dark green leafy vegetables. Iron is also supplemented in whole grain breakfast foods like oatmeal or certain cereals.
  • Folic Acid: Dark green leafy vegetables are an excellent source of folic acid, as are citrus fruits, lentils and whole grain breakfast foods.

Pregnancy cravings are most definitely real. You can make safe and healthy food choices to manage your food cravings while also fueling your body, your mind and your growing baby.

  • Anna Lebsack, RD, LD, is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist and has been with HealthPartners since 2011. She attended the University of Minnesota and completed her dietetic internship with Sodexo. She and her husband enjoy exploring all that the Twin Cities has to offer, especially new hiking paths. Lebsack is expecting her first child, which has given her a new perspective on helping pregnant women take steps to achieve their health goals. “It’s been really fun in this stage of life to work with my patients who are pregnant because I can relate to many of their struggles,” Lebsack said.

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