3 Healthy Eating Tips for Expecting Moms

June 21, 2018

Ice cream and pickles, fast food at midnight and other bizarre cravings during pregnancy can make eating healthy a bit of a challenge. Having an occasional treat is reasonable, of course, but here are some tips from health and wellness professionals to help keep expecting moms and their growing babies healthy.

Don’t be fooled by “you are eating for two.” Many women think that to feed their growing baby, they need to eat a lot of extra calories. Women may overestimate how much they need to eat or how much weight they need to gain to have a healthy pregnancy. In general, the weight gain recommended during pregnancy depends on your body mass index (BMI) before you became pregnant. According to the CDC, if your pre-pregnancy BMI is:

  • Obese (BMI is 30 or higher) you should gain 11-20 pounds.
  • Overweight (BMI 25-29.9) you should gain 15-25 pounds.
  • Normal weight (BMI 18.5-24.9) you should gain 25-35 pounds.
  • Underweight (BMI less than 18.5) you should gain 28-40 pounds.

To figure out how much weight gain is healthy for your pregnancy, talk to your doctor.


Rethink raw foods. Eating raw and unpasteurized foods can expose you and your growing baby to dangers like listeria infections. According to the CDC, some raw foods to avoid during pregnancy include raw and smoked seafood, soft cheeses (queso fresco, queso blanco, queso panela, brie, Camembert, blue-veined or feta), unpasteurized fruit juices, unrefrigerated cut melon and raw or lightly cooked sprouts (alfalfa, clover, mung bean, radish). Unpasteurized milk and milk products made from unpasteurized milk, including cheese, ice cream and yogurt, are not recommended before, during or after pregnancy or at any other time due to safety concerns.


Other foods that can expose you to listeria include deli lunch meat (like bologna), refrigerated meat spreads (versus canned) and hot dogs that have not been heated to an internal temperature of 165ºF just before serving. Pregnant women infected with listeria typically experience fever and other flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue and muscle aches. However, infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn.


Choose foods from all five food groups. Enjoy a healthy diet rich in foods from across the five food groups. Identified by and representing the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, they include:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Grains: make at least half of your grain foods whole grains
  • Protein: lean meats and poultry, fish*, eggs, tofu, nuts, seeds and legumes/beans
  • Dairy: low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese
  • *Some cooked fish (e.g., swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel and shark) contain high amounts of mercury and should be limited or avoided during pregnancy.

Fat-free and low-fat dairy products are good to excellent sources of calcium, protein, phosphorus and B vitamins. These nutrients are important for your baby's developing bones, teeth, muscles, heart and nerves.


Expecting mothers can go ahead and indulge in the occasional craving – just strive for an overall balanced diet with healthy portion sizes.


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