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Tracey Mallett

A Healthy Pregnancy Diet: What To Put On Your Grocery List

Here's what you should be stocking your fridge with—and why.

Now that you’re pregnant, your overall diet needs to be well-balanced to ensure that you and baby get the right amount of vitamins and minerals. A little overwhelmed by all the “eat this, not that” advice you’ve been getting lately? We don’t blame you. So let’s make things simple: Here’s a cheat sheet of what to add to your pregnancy grocery list the next time you’re cruising the grocery aisles.

Fruits and Vegetables

Eating lots of different-colored fruits and veggies will help you get in an array of vitamins and minerals. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends eating about three cups of vegetables (whether raw, cooked, frozen, canned, dried or 100 percent vegetable juice) and two cups of fruit every day. Go after options that are high in vitamins. Citrus fruits, broccoli and tomatoes are good sources of vitamin C, which will promote healthy skin and gums, among other things. Dark, leafy greens are a great way to get in the vitamin A, folate and iron that you need during pregnancy and breastfeeding. They’re also a good source of iron, which you’ll need to avoid becoming anemic, now that extra blood is circulating in your body. Here, the top fruits and veggies to put on your pregnancy grocery list:

  • Citrus fruit
  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Bananas
  • Melon
  • Mangoes
  • Avocado
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Squash

Grains and Legumes

Growing a baby requires a fair amount of energy—and your body sources most of its energy from the essential carbohydrates found in breads and grains. Whole grains and enriched products are a healthy source fiber, which keep you feeling full and help alleviate constipation, as well as iron, vitamin B and other key nutrients. The ACOG recommends eating 6 to 8 ounces of grains each day, with unprocessed whole grains making up half of your grain consumption. Foods that are high in folic acid—like lentils, chickpeas and more—will also help develop baby’s nervous system. A few grains and legumes to toss onto that pregnancy grocery list:

  • Whole wheat bread
  • Oats
  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Barley
  • Bran cereal
  • Black beans
  • Lentils
  • Lima beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Chickpeas

Proteins

Since protein is one of the essential building blocks for muscle, tissue and all sorts of other new cells, getting the required amount—5 to 6.5 ounces, according to the ACOG—is crucial when you’re pregnant. (It’s also important after pregnancy, when you’re exercising and trying to build up new muscle.) In addition to protein, dairy offers up calcium, which helps build bones and strong muscles. If you don’t consume enough, baby’s bones steal calcium from yours, which ups your risk of osteoporosis later in life. Make sure your pregnancy grocery list is sporting a few of these items:

  • Organic chicken
  • Turkey (fresh, not deli meat)
  • Lean beef
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Veal
  • Liver
  • Wild salmon
  • Shrimp
  • Tilapia
  • Cod
  • Scallops
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Soy milk
  • Pasteurized cheese
  • Eggs

Vegetarian Recommendations

If you’re a vegetarian, you’ll want to pay extra attention to the amount of protein you’re getting at every meal (consider popping a vitamin B12 supplement each day too). Try incorporating as many of these veggie-friendly foods in your diet as possible:

  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Natural peanut butter
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Flaxseed
  • Olive oil

Updated December 2017

Plus, more from The Bump:

10 Pregnancy Foods to Eat For Baby

5 Pregnancy Nutrition Myths

20 Healthy Pregnancy Snacks