Food and Nutrition Pregnancy

Pregnancy Diet - What to Eat & What to Avoid While Pregnant?

Shikha Garg

Created by Shikha Garg
Updated on Jun 04, 2020

Pregnancy Diet What to Eat What to Avoid While Pregnant
Reviewed by Expert panel

When you are pregnant, your body's demands for all the nutrients increases automatically, because, nutrition of the fetus depends on you. Eating a healthy diet becomes more important than ever at this stage. Everything that you eat or drink can have an effect on your baby's development. Diet during pregnancy should be adequate for-

  1. Maintenance of the mother's health
  2. The need for the growing foetus
  3. Successful lactation

What you eat during pregnancy has a direct effect on the baby’s development as well as the mother’s own health. We bring to you a blog that crisply tells you what to eat, what to avoid when pregnant. Read here. Here are some basic pointers that will help you get a proper diet in your pregnancy.

What Food Are Must in Your Pregnancy Diet?

The pregnancy diet should ideally be balanced, nutritious, healthy, varied with lots of lean proteins and whole grains to support the baby's growth and development. However, every pregnancy is unique and before you arrive on a diet plan for your pregnancy period, you should always cross-check with your gynecologist and follow her advice on this as well. Some basic musts for a healthy pregnancy diet are-

  1. A healthy diet for pregnant women should be nutrient centric and contain more calories, iron, calcium, and folate. However, if you start your pregnancy with a healthy weight, you may not need any additional calories. Post the first trimester, 340 extra calories a day in the second trimester, and about 450 extra calories a day in the third trimester are recommended
  2. Maintain a steady rate of weight gain which should be 1-2 kg in the first trimester; about 2 kg each month during the second trimester and third trimester. On average, around 10-13 kg for healthy women is considered normal. Weight gain during pregnancy depends on the BMI you have when you conceive
  3. Drink plenty of fluids to avoid constipation during pregnancy – one of the most common pregnancy discomforts. Fluids keep the body hydrated and supports the increase of blood volume which grows by almost 50% when pregnant
  4. Also drink lots of nourishing liquids, including water, at least 8-10 glasses each day to avoid urinary infection/irritation and dehydration. Have nourishing liquids such as lemon water, lassi/chhach (light consistency). Coconut water in pregnancy has been known to have many benefits with lesser calories
  5. Exercise regularly to increase your chances of smooth labor and delivery. Women who remain active during pregnancy and exercise regularly have higher chances of smooth labor and a natural birth
  6. Pregnancy changes the way the stomach acids function. To avoid indigestion (heartburn), eat 5 -6 small meals a day instead of 2-3 large ones. Breaking meals into smaller portions keeps you from feeling full and uncomfortable in one go. Antacids may be helpful – ask your doctor for a suggestion
  7. Iron is an important element in hemoglobin production which is required to be optimum during pregnancy. Increase the intake of citrus fruits and juices, because it contains Vitamin C which helps in the absorption of iron. Citrus fruits may also help keep morning sickness at a baby
  8. Working in pregnancy can be an easy task if you plan your meals well in advance. As far as possible carry home-cooked food and a few snacking items from home. Drink plenty of water and try to take a small walk during the day

What Foods Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy?

Being one of the most delicate times in the life of a woman, it is but natural to pay attention to what you eat and what you should not eat. Some foods may be consumed moderately, some are best avoided while some find their way in your plate almost daily. Here is a list of foods that should be avoided as far as possible-

  1. Seafood and fish that contain mercury: All seafood has some traces of mercury but certain fish and seafood like king mackerel, swordfish, shark, and tilefish should be kept off your pregnancy diet. Also, fish that are exposed to pollutants should also be avoided, including salmon, striped bass, bluefish, walleye, and trout. Read More: Coconut Water in Pregnancy
  2. Unpasteurized Milk and Milk Products: Unpasteurised milk and milk products, fruit juices, etc. can be contaminated with bacteria like Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli, and Campylobacter. These can be fatal for an unborn baby and are best avoided totally
  3. Alcohol: An occasional indulgence may be alright from the second trimester onwards, but alcohol has been known to increase the chances of miscarriage and still-birth. Why take a risk when you can avoid it altogether?
  4. Raw Eggs: Eggs are an excellent source of protein and should be a part of a pregnancy diet. However, undercooked eggs can contain Salmonella bacteria. Though the infection may affect only the mother, yet it is suggested that pregnant women eat thoroughly cooked eggs only. In other words, poached eggs, lightly scrambled eggs, homemade mayonnaise, and other such items go off your pregnancy diet
  5. Undercooked meat and poultry: Raw meat contains the parasite toxoplasma gondii and may also be infected with listeris bacteria. Consumption of raw meat and poultry can have serious effects on the unborn baby's growth and development, and in some cases cause miscarriage too. Make sure your meat and poultry are thoroughly cooked
  6. Caffeine: Can't get up from the bed unless you have your morning cuppa coffee? I hear from you! However, excessive caffeine consumption has been related to low fetal birth weights and a higher risk of stillbirths. In some cases, excessive caffeine consumption can cause fetal death or spontaneous abortion as well. No, don't fret just yet! Just make sure you do not have more than 200 mL of caffeine every day.
  7. Herbal Teas: Though herbal teas have gained a lot of popularity off late, some of them are completely off-limits for pregnant women. Herbal Senna tea, wormwood, Saw palmetto, etc. should be avoided. Green tea, chamomile tea or rosemary tea can be consumed in moderate amounts, though I'd suggest you consult your doctor before relishing a cup
  8. Street Foods: Who doesn't want to indulge in a chaat treat when pregnant? Count me in! However, when pregnant, make sure you eat a variation of street foods from reputed restaurants only – so that you can be sure that the products used are not contaminated and safe for you and the baby
  9. Fatty and Sugary Foods: So you though pregnancy is the perfect time to indulge in sweet treats? Well, you are wrong. While fats will skyrocket your cholesterol levels, and I am not even talking about how it will stick to you after delivery, sugars too will contribute to your empty calorie intake
  10. Unwashed Fruits and Vegetables: Yes, you knew it. We all do. But let me stress here that you need to ensure that anything that goes in your mouth is thoroughly clean, washed many times and avoid eating them raw or undercooked. Also, ensure that you peel your fruits before you eat them

               Drinking Coffee While Pregnant

               Yogurt during Pregnancy

               Foods to Avoid during Pregnancy in Winter

Along with what you eat, here are a few pointers on some simple things that should be avoided when pregnant:

  1. Excessive salt
  2. Avoid foods that cause gas, such as spicy, fatty or greasy food
  3. Avoid smoking and alcohol
  4. Avoid caffeinated drinks; they inhibit the absorption of iron
  5. To avoid ingestion and hyperacidity – don't skip meals or overeat
  6. Avoid unnecessary snacking on junk and fried foods
  7. Avoid restaurant made salads and dressings made from raw eggs
  8. Avoid organ meat

            Read More: Tips to Increase Baby Weight During Pregnancy

What If Taking Healthy Snacks During Pregnancy?

Pregnancy is the time when you get some really weird cravings, and it wouldn't hurt to indulge a bit, would it? While it is always better to stick to healthy foods, give in to your sweet, tangy, or rich cravings once in a while. Chocolates anyone? If you are fond of snacking here are some healthy snacking options-

  • Sprouts and Salads
  • Bhelpuri (puffed rice snack)
  • Roasted Chana Chat
  • Fresh vegetable soups or juices
  • Three Bean Salad
  • Yogurt with fresh fruits
  • Roasted Nuts or Dry fruits
  • Fruit Salads and Chaats
  • Wholegrain bread with vegetables/paneer
  • Dhokla/idlis

These are general guidelines on diet in pregnancy. Your doctor will be your best guide. Read More: Healthy Snack Recipes for kids

Foods That May Help In Morning Sickness

If you suffer from morning sickness, here are some foods that will help you deal with it:

  • Watermelon and Musk melon seeds (giri) help in curbing morning sickness. They are rich in calcium as well
  • Banslochan (it is a type of calcium, made up of extracts from the stem of a special tree; it also controls the craving of clay (very common among females during pregnancy). You may find it in medical stores easily
  • Lemon water has been found to be very helpful when it comes to vomiting and nausea. The tangy-sour taste of lemon keeps the sickness away
  • Digestive biscuits. Keep them on your bedside and eat before you step down from the bed. Or a slice of toasted bread before you get up with a cup of your favorite beverage should also help you curb nausea


But more than what you eat, it is also important to have a proper meal pattern throughout the day. Therefore, don't skip breakfast. Also, begin your day with a healthy high protein, high fiber breakfast consisting of milk with Dalia, muesli, oats, wholewheat bread, sprouts, egg, etc.

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

  • 20
Comments ()
Kindly Login or Register to post a comment.

| Aug 11, 2016

Thanks a lot

  • Reply
  • Report

| Aug 11, 2016


  • Reply
  • Report

| Aug 11, 2016

you are most welcome @Sonali and Shazli

  • Reply
  • Report

| Aug 14, 2016

it is very useful. thank u so much

  • Reply
  • Report

| Sep 15, 2016


  • Reply
  • Report

| Oct 30, 2016

Thanks a lot.... much need

  • Reply
  • Report

| Nov 11, 2016

I M 26 th week have constipation .. what to do??

  • Reply
  • Report

| Nov 13, 2016

read another blog " tips to avoid constipation ".

  • Reply
  • Report

| Jan 11, 2018

If you are pregnant then you must take care of your diet very strictly as it is going to affect your babies health. You must follow a healthy diet. For more information on food and nutrition during pregnancy must visit-

  • Reply
  • Report

| Dec 06, 2018

can i eat banana in pregnency

  • Reply
  • Report

| Dec 18, 2018

@How: Suggest reading this info...

  • Reply
  • Report

| Apr 10, 2019

I'm 2nd week pregnant and have loose motions from 3 days .. what to do... 😏🙄😑

  • Reply
  • Report

| Jul 11, 2019

im 4 month pregnant can I eat pumpkin seeds

  • Reply
  • Report

| Jul 26, 2019

Hi I am 16 week pregnant but my weight 48 how I increase my weight any suggestions please

  • Reply
  • Report

| Jul 28, 2019

hi I m in 8 month

  • Reply
  • Report

| Oct 31, 2019

I m 3 week pregnant. plz tell me diet chart

  • Reply
  • Report

| Dec 28, 2019

Say in Marathi

  • Reply
  • Report

| Jun 28, 2020

Can you help me call a doctor to get a online pregnancy test

  • Reply
  • Report

| Aug 31, 2020

Please suggest can I eat daliya in 2nd trimester

  • Reply
  • Report

| Nov 27, 2020

Hi , m 5months pregnant. My weight decreased by 2kgs. How can I gain weight?

  • Reply
  • Report
+ Start A Blog

Top Food and Nutrition Blogs

Ask your queries to Doctors & Experts

Download APP