Healthy Pregnancy Diet Menu Plans

  • Medical Author:
    Erica Oberg, ND, MPH

    Dr. Erica Oberg, ND, MPH, received a BA in anthropology from the University of Colorado, her doctorate of naturopathic medicine (ND) from Bastyr University, and a masters of public health (MPH) in health services research from the University of Washington. She completed her residency at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health in ambulatory primary care and fellowship training at the Health Promotion Research Center at the University of Washington.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

Quick GuideWhat Not to Eat When Pregnant Pictures: Alcohol, Fish, Fruit Juice, Sushi

What Not to Eat When Pregnant Pictures: Alcohol, Fish, Fruit Juice, Sushi

Holistic diet menu plan during pregnancy

Healthy breakfast options may include:

  • Fresh fruit and unsweetened Greek yogurt (higher in protein and lower in fat that regular yogurt) with herbal tea or oatmeal (steel-cut or low-sugar) with walnuts and berries
  • An omelet made with 2 hormone-free eggs, spinach, and tomato.

Healthy lunch options may include:

  • Salads with added protein like garbanzo beans smoked salmon, diced chicken) or vegetable-based soups
  • Bean and veggie tortilla wraps (as long as they don't have too much cheese)
  • Vegetable based soups

Dinners should have half the plate filled with

  • Vegetables
  • A quarter with protein (beans, lentils, lean meat or fish)
  • A quarter with unrefined carbohydrates (brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato)
  • Add about 1 tablespoon of added healthy fats such as olive oil, chopped nuts or seeds, or hormone free butter to the dish.

Healthy snacks may include:

  • Fruit
  • Nuts
  • Vegetable juices
  • Protein shakes
  • Celery
  • Peanut butter
  • Hummus and carrots
  • Whole grain crackers with hormone-free pasteurized cheese

Other important micronutrients during pregnancy are omega-3 fatty acids, DHA specifically, and probiotics. DHA is necessary for healthy development of brain and nervous system and may have beneficial effects on the cognitive development of the child.

Probiotics, when taken by the mother during pregnancy reduce allergy and atopic disease in children, according to some research studies. 3

Pregnancy superfoods may be included in a holistic pregnancy diet to ensure that optimal amounts of nutrients are enjoyed from food.

Vegetarian and vegan diet menu plans during pregnancy

Pregnant women can absolutely follow vegan or vegetarian diets during pregnancy. In fact, doing so may help them avoid some of the added hormones that are common in non-organic animal products. However, there are some nutrients that are commonly deficient in vegetarian diets. Pregnant women who are vegan or vegetarian should be extra careful to ensure they are getting enough calcium, iron, and B-12. Protein intake needs to be monitored too.

Vegetarian protein sources include:

  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Seeds
  • Quinoa
  • Peas
  • Hemp milk/almond milk/soy milk
  • Hormone-free unsweetened yogurt
  • Hormone-free cheese
  • Hormone-free eggs

These last three are not part of a vegan pregnancy diet, but are appropriate for a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet.

B-12 is needed for proper DNA expression in the growing embryo and fetus. Deficiencies cause anemia and are associated with low birth weight, pre-term delivery, preeclampsia, and neural tube defects8. Pregnant women need 30mcg a day according to the Recommended Daily Allowance, and the sources are all animal-based. Vegan women may want to ensure they get enough by taking a methylcobalamin supplement. Other B vitamins, specifically folate and B6, are important in pregnancy. A good-quality prenatal multi or B complex will provide these nutrients.

Protein needs during pregnancy

Protein requirements in pregnancy are increased by 50%. On average, a pregnant woman needs about 70 grams of protein per day. Protein will not only ensure good growth of the baby, it will help keep the mother's blood sugar stable and may help reduce morning sickness. Research studies have shown better birth outcomes (fewer underweight or early babies) when a mother's daily diet is at least 25% protein. Most people think of meat when they think about protein, but there are many excellent vegetarian sources. A vegan or vegetarian pregnancy diet can easily get enough protein from bean, nut, and grain sources. Additionally, relying only meat sources can increase your intake of saturated fat and other components of meat that are wise to limit in the diet. Here are some examples of good sources of healthy proteins.

  • 1 egg, 6g
  • 1 c Greek yogurt, 14g
  • 11 c edamame, 29g
  • 2T hummus, 9g
  • 2T almond butter, 8g
  • 1c cooked spinach, 5g
  • 3.5oz chicken breast, 30g
  • 3.5 oz. fish, 22g
  • 1 scoop protein powder, 14g
  • 1 c beans, 18g
  • 1 oz. nuts, 6g
  • 1 c cooked quinoa, 8g

Iron needs during pregnancy

Iron is a common deficiency during pregnancy. Iron is an essential mineral needed to transport oxygen to tissues. It is also necessary for DNA repair and mitochondrial energy production. Insufficient iron can cause anemia and symptoms of:

Anemia has been linked to pre-term births, low birth weight, and even autism and increased maternal mortality10. Thus, it's really important to get enough iron during pregnancy. The RDA for iron is 27mg during pregnancy; your obstetrician or midwife may recommend 40mg per day to correct a deficiency. Cooking in cast-iron skillets can also increase iron intake – you can add 5mg of additional iron for each per saucy, vitamin C-rich dish you cook in cast iron.

These are some good food sources of iron:

  • 3 oz. canned clams, 24mg
  • 1 packet instant oatmeal, 11mg
  • 1 oz. Floradix or other liquid herbal iron, 10mg
  • 1 oz. pumpkin seeds, 4.5mg
  • ½ c lentils, 3.5mg
  • 1 cup spinach, 6mg
  • ½ c chickpeas/garbanzos, 2.5mg
  • 3 oz. duck, lamb, turkey or other DARK meat, 2.5mg
  • 1 Tbsp. blackstrap molasses, 3.5mg
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/21/2016

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