Essentials of a Pregnancy Diet

Now that my 5 part fertility diet series is over, and I know I have quite a few pregnant readers, I thought I’d delve a bit into pregnancy diets. I started this post over at Amy’s blog (The Finer Things in Life) today talking about the importance of eating well during pregnancy, and while everything I outlined for a fertility diet is just as important I thought it important to specifically talk about pregnancy.

5 Things to Include

1. Consume a variety of foods – each food has different vitamin and mineral compositions and it’s important to make sure we’re getting a bit of everything so that baby can develop correctly. If you like carrots, fabulous! But you don’t need to eat them every day all day. Make sure your plate is colorful and switch it up day to day.

2. Eat more raw – Heating and cooking kills enzymes that are needed for proper nutrient absorption. Making sure you eat raw foods allows your body to fully use everything you consume. This includes fruits, veggies, and even milk ,yogurt, and butter.

3. Drink plenty of water – Water is essential to life and we need to make sure we’re drinking enough of it. Urinating is one was our body rids itself of toxins and we need to make sure we are constantly flushing them out. it’s also important to make sure you’re not necessarily drinking plain water, but water that has some nutrients in it. So try herbal teas or lemon water.

4. Make sure you consume good fats each day – fats like butter, ghee, coconut oil, lard/tallow. Eating fat allows your body to actually absorb fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K. Making sure your diet includes good fats and cholesterol also helps your body to produce the hormones needed to sustain a pregnancy and helps baby develop properly. Diets low in fat soluble vitamins are more often associated with degenerative diseases in children as well as poor bone structure and crooked teeth.

5. Add probiotic foods into your diet every day,  like yogurt, kefir, or sauerkraut. Not only do eating these foods help keep you from getting sick, they will pass on to baby and help populate and protect their gut. This helps baby absorb nutrients correctly and protects against disorders associated with leaky gut syndrome like ADD, autism, and allergies.

5 Things to Leave Out

1. Stay away from refined sugar and flour. They rob your body of nutrients needed for baby and cause a rapid rise and fall of your blood sugar levels. With large fluctuations in blood sugar levels, your hormones may have a hard time balancing causing issues with sustaining a pregnancy as well as morning sickness.

2. While controversial, I personally think that soy should not be included in a healthy pregnancy diet. Some studies say the phytoestrogens in soy help your body make it’s own estrogen. Other studies say it mimics estrogen in the body and therefore causes your body to slow down production of the hormone. The Weston A Price Foundation mentions that soy also includes something called phytic acid which can severely rod your body of nutrients. There is also the fact that 90% of the soy grown in the US is genetically modified and studies are showing that GMO foods are not compatible with life. In any case, we do know that they way people consume soy today (soy milk, veggie burgers) is not the way people ate soy even 50 years ago.

3. Vegetable oils are high in omega 6’s and in turn upset the balance between themselves and the omega 3’s, which our body is supposed to have more of. This and the fact that many of the vegetable oils (corn, canola, and soy) are also genetically modified.

4. I feel like even after the refined sugar and the vegetable oils I still need to say that processed foods should not be part of a healthy diet either! These foods have been completely changed from their original source and the nutrients are altered. They rob your body of vitamins and minerals as you try to absorb the damaged nutrients and can affect your growing baby’s neurological system with the pesticides, chemical flavor enhancers, and coloring.

5. The folks from Responsible technology left a comment on one of my fertility diets posts mentioning that all Genetically Modified foods should not be consumed as well, and I agree! Here’s what they found:

“The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM), for example, issued a policy statement that all physicians should prescribe non-GMO diets for everyone, citing a long list of disorders found in animal feeding studies.

A team of scientists re-evaluated data from three rat feeding studies by Monsanto, and published evidence showing “signs of toxicity” in major organs.

Two institutes in Russia found that by the third generation of feeding hamsters GM soy, most lost the ability to have babies. And the infant mortality was 4 or 5-fold higher than controls.

Scientists from the USDA, Purdue, and elsewhere, are now publishing reports about how the overuse of Roundup herbicide, used with GM Roundup Ready crops, may be depriving our food of key minerals.”

So what do you think? What’s the hardest to abide by?

What’s the easiest?

Tell me about your pregnancy diets!

This post is linked to: Fight Back Friday

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About Donielle

Donielle is an amateur herbalist and natural momma to two littles (with another babe in heaven) after dealing with being less than fertile. She has a passion for nourishing nutrition, natural living, and spreading the word on how food truly affects our health.


  1. Great post! Very similar to the Bradley Method’s diet, which I essentially followed. Eating for pregnancy is so much fun when you think about how all of the nutrients are being used to nourish your baby. Makes you WANT to eat all the good things!

  2. HeatherG says:

    I don’t think enough OBs focus on diet. When I saw OBs during each of the three pregnancies I lost I asked what should I be eating. All three doctors gave the same answer “Just eat a well balanced diet”. When I asked for them to be more specific I was given a print out of what fish and cheeses not to eat! One even told me they don’t worry about it unless you fail the gestational diabetes test late in your second trimester. When I saw my midwife while pregnant with my son she examined my current diet and was was thorough on how to improve it. Each visit followed up on this. She has mothers follow the Brewer Diet (the one Bradley classes recommends) and her only patients with GD, pre-eclampsia or low birth weight are the ones who don’t eat as she prescribed. I would like to add that getting enough protein is really important and aluminum should be avoided (the two big changes I needed to make).

  3. Great post and I agree 100% on the soy part. I’m convinced that soy is VERY dangerous – not only is it bad for us but growing it destroys whole ECOSYSTEMS, so it’s terrible for our planet.

    I have 5 children and ate horribly while pregnant. All of my kids are healthy and I had problem-free pregnancies but I wonder how badly i damaged their future health by eating that SAD crap? :(

    Thankfully I am now Lacto-Paleo and my kids are low carb. I’m crossing my fingers that I can undo some of the damage I may have done by consuming sugar and grains whilst pregnant!

  4. I’ve found it very hard to eat well while pregnant…even though I ate great before. I have depression and quit my medication for a bit. That probably didn’t help but I was concerned about possible affects on the baby. I also had no morning sickness…just craved food and all kinds of food. According to my mid-wife, part of it is likely the depression and the fact that I spent the last two years losing 70 lbs…so my body is going bonkers. I do agree though a balanced diet with lots of veggies, good fats and proteins is extremely important…for all of us…pregnant or not!

  5. I totally agree on the soy issue! Soy has lots of value—just look at the traditional asian diet—but American soy products are not the “natural” soy foods of 50 years ago. That is the smart way to eat soy….like your Granny would have used it!

  6. Hi! I just found your blog and wish I would have found it earlier. I’m 35 weeks pregnant now with my third but have been trying to eat more probiotic foods. Do you have a list of probiotic foods? I have been eating yogurt (plain, whole milk) recently but wish I had started sooner (and wish I had eaten it with my other two kids since they do have allergies!). Anyway – anything I can do to prevent allergies I’d like to try!

  7. I totally agree! This is how we should eat all the time, right? I always thought It was strange when people tell you not to eat certain things when your pregnant. If its harmful to pregnant woman, isn’t it harmful to all of us?

    Great post!

  8. Great post. I’m not currently pregnant, but my husband I are looking ahead to starting a family. I have appreciated this website as I consider that future change.

  9. I have been a vegan for 24+ years , eat soy and have two very healthy boys, had two healthy pregnancies and natural/homebirths. I think the key is balance and moderation. A diet high in any one food is not healthy. Our bodies need fats, proteins and carbohydrates to function properly and eating these in their purest form is always the most desirable, but necessarily accessible – again moderation and education. If you can buy fresh and raw at least look at the labels of what you are buying -the less ingredients the better.

  10. I totally agree with what you’ve said. I’ve actually read a lot about eating “low fat” but the little babe needs good fat!

    Interesting thing: I used to be lactose intolerant but since becoming pregnant I started craving dairy products like crazy and now eat full fat organic yogurt, milk, all that great stuff. I kicked the “low fat” advice out the window. As long as my fat is good fat, I’m good with it and good with having it for my baby.

  11. HeatherG, from what I understand (according to comments made by OBs), they receive virtually no training about nutrition. One OB commented that in med school they were offered a Saturday morning seminar that was optional, and she doesn’t know if it was of any value or not because she didn’t go. Of course instead of researching it for themselves or just flat out saying, “I wasn’t trained in nutrition” many refuse to acknowledge this.

  12. I’m currently pregnant and trying to eat as healthy as I can. Fortunately fruits have been easy to consume during the nausea stage, but I feel like I could be doing better. My diet has been sorely lacking in greens because they didn’t sound good (that’s finally starting to change – at least I have been able to eat spinach *in* things.) I feel like I’m not getting enough dairy – yogurt was something I couldn’t stomach for a while, so I was left with cheese, milk and ice cream (no problem eating the latter!).

    Another thing they don’t seem to emphasize enough in pregnancy is exercise. Now that my energy is starting to come back, I’m going to push to get out walking more. I’m at risk for GD and hypertension, so the better I can treat my body now in these early stages, the more likely I will be to have a healthy pregnancy.

  13. This sounds a lot like what I’m following now that I am pregnant. Because I have gestational diabetes, my health provider put me on a special diabetic pregnancy diet which I have tweeked to fit my more natural way of eating and I so far have been able to control my blood sugars (OK except for 3 bites of an awesome cheesecake someone brought to our family reunion a couple weeks ago… it was absolutely bad for us, but worth the 3 bites and 20 minutes of walking it off afterwards!)
    Hydration is important in any pregnancy, but especially if you are in ketosis which, if you have gestational diabetes or severe morning sickness, you probably are. It takes the ketone right out of your body if you don’t let them get to high. Pretty much anyone with PCOS (said my dr.) is at risk for GD. This is an great diet to follow for that.

  14. Hi,
    I realize this post was written a while ago, but I have a question regarding the GAPS diet and pregnancy, mainly do you think that one can still get enough nutrients for a developing baby while on the diet?

    donielle Reply:

    @Monique E., As long as you are talking about the normal GAPS diet and not the intro diet I do think you’re able to get the nutrients you need during pregnancy. In some ways it may be even more nourishing than the standard american diet! Just focus on getting as much of a variety of foods as you can. GAPS allows for many types of food that aren’t ‘normal’ to eat, and thus many people start to limit themselves to only allowable foods they like and they don’t try anything new!

    donielle Reply:

    @donielle, Also, here’s a great link on GAPS and pregnancy!

  15. Hi. I am 5 months pregnant and developed lactose intolerance at two months. I have never had any known problem consuming diary before this, even with two other pregnancies. I am able to have 3 oz of hard cheese per day, but no yogurt – not even raw milk 24 hr fermented yogurt, or milk. They give me headaches, gas, bloating and diarrhea I am very confused and frustrated! Any ideas?!

    Donielle Reply:

    @Chris, Hmmm, I don’t know for sure, but I do know many women who have dealt with the same issue. It usually turns out that their little one couldn’t/can’t tolerate dairy. And pregnancy often changes body chemistry as well, and each pregnancy can be so different.
    I’m sorry you’re having to deal with food intolerance! That makes it harder to cook and eat. If it were me, I’d just stay away from it for the time being and find my nutrients elsewhere.


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