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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 shopping list (if they aren’t on it already) the next time you’re cruising the grocery aisles:

The Basics

• Whole grains
• Whole wheat bread
• Brown rice
• Bran cereal
• Black beans
• Lentils
• Lima beans
• Chickpeas
• Citrus fruit
• Broccoli
• Tomatoes
• Spinach
• Kale
• Sweet Potatoes
• Squash

Eating lots of different-colored fruits and veggies will help you get in an array of vitamins and minerals. 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. Sweet potatoes and squash are high in fiber and rich in vitamins A and C and make a great choice for a nutritious side dish or as ingredients in soups and casseroles. Spinach is also a good source of iron. Now that extra blood is circulating in your body, you’ll need to get more iron in your diet so you don’t become anemic. Plus, opting for veggies and whole grains that are high in fiber will keep you feeling full. They're also low in fat and help alleviate constipation. Foods that are high in folic acid—like spinach, lentils, chickpeas and more—will also help develop baby’s nervous system.

Protein

Since protein is one of the essential building blocks for muscle, tissue, and all sorts of other new cells, getting the required amount is crucial when you’re pregnant. (It’s also important after pregnancy, when you’re exercising and trying to build up new muscle.) Browse this list of options to make sure you’re working enough protein into your diet each day:

• Organic chicken
• Turkey (fresh, not deli meat)
• Beef
• Lamb
• Veal
• Liver
• Ham
• Wild salmon
• Milk
• Yogurt
• Soy milk
• Tofu
• Pasteurized cheese
• Eggs

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. You can look for brands of yogurt that are fortified with folic acid and Vitamin D.

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:

• Legumes
• Black beans
• Navy beans
• Pinto beans
• Peas
• Soybeans
• Tofu
• Tempeh
• Whole grains
• Natural peanut butter
• Flaxseed
• Olive oil

Flaxseed, while rich in protein, is also a good source of DHA (also found in salmon, wheat germ and nuts), which is crucial during pregnancy in helping baby's brain, cells, and retinal, nervous and cardiovascular systems develop properly.