Dr. Sukhamoy Barik

Dr. Sukhamoy Barik

MBBS (Cal), MS (Obstetrics and Gynaecology) FMAS
Consultant Gynaec Laparoscopic Surgeon and Infertility Specialist

Diet in Pregnancy

by drbarik | May 4, 2023 | Gynaecology

Diet in Pregnancy

You may hear this lot from your aunts and well-wishers – “Now that you are pregnant you need to eat for two!” Rest assured; this is just a myth!

The optimal weight that you need to gain during pregnancy depends on your pre-pregnancy weight and body mass index. Putting on excess weight may actually pose problems during labour.

Typically for a singleton pregnancy you can follow this thumb rule:

Diet in Pregnancy

Pre-pregnancy BMI

Less than 18.5

Between 18.5 to 22.9

Between 23 – 24.9

Above 25

Total Weight Gain

12.5 – 18 kgs

11.5 – 16 kgs

7 – 11.5 kgs

5 – 9 kgs

Plan a healthy balanced diet during your pregnancy with each meal comprising of half portion of fruits and vegetables, one-fourth portion of lean protein and one-fourth portion of whole grains.

Many women battle with morning sickness in the first trimester and find they can eat very little.

It is common to eat less in the first trimester due to excessive nausea and some of you may actually lose weight.

If you cannot even look at food, opt for foods without spices and suck lemons as this will help ease the nausea.

As the second trimester advances and your appetite slowly returns, women begin to wonder what foods they can eat during pregnancy.

Half your meal should contain fruits and vegetables, while the remainder should consist of lean protein (lentils, milk, cheese etc.) and whole grains.

Eat small meals every 3-4 hours, and keep yourself well hydrated. Make it a point not to skip any meals during pregnancy.

You’ll also need to structure your meals differently when you’re pregnant. A few easy changes, like eating smaller and more frequent meals, 6 to 8 times a day, consciously staying hydrated throughout the day, and adding a light bedtime snack before bed will help you control your nausea.

You’ll gradually need to add more calories and proteins to your diet in the latter half of your pregnancy, but you don’t need them in the beginning. Right now, you need to focus on the quality of the food you eat while your body gets used to all the changes and your developing baby.

Overall, the first trimester is a time to take things easy. If you can’t stand to be around certain food smells, then don’t be around them, and eat what feels good to you. And don’t worry about losing weight or not gaining enough weight


Once the first trimester passes, you’ll feel differently and a lot better.

Foods that should be included in your diet during pregnancy:

Diet in Pregnancy

• A balanced and healthy diet is a must for a pregnant woman.
• The diet must be enriched with nutrients that the body requires.
• The requirement doubles up in pregnancy as two bodies need energy.

Here is the list of foods that a pregnant woman should include in her diet


Diet in Pregnancy

• Consuming 75-100 grams of protein daily as it plays a vital role in the growth of fetal tissue, including the brain.
• It also helps in increasing blood supply and in the growth of breast and uterine tissues which is important during pregnancy.
• Beans, legumes, nuts, tofu, soy products are some good sources of protein for vegetarians.
• Healthy animal source proteins include fish, lean meat, chicken, seafood and eggs.

Fruits and Vegetables:

Diet in Pregnancy

• Five portions of fruits and vegetables in the whole day are recommend
• Intake of fresh vegetables and fruits result in less wheezing in infancy.
• Consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables also help to protect your baby from certain types of allergies and allergic symptoms in your baby later in life.

Green and Yellow Vegetables:

Diet in Pregnancy

• Eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables helps provide the nutrients needed to support your baby’s development
• Fruit and vegetables are packed with important vitamins, minerals fiber and antioxidants
• Aim for 2 servings of fruit and 4 to 5 servings of vegetables per day
• Citrus fruits, green and yellow vegetables contain beta carotene which helps in reducing childhood eczema.

Vitamin E:

Diet in Pregnancy

• Spinach, broccoli, butternut squash helps prevent wheezing and asthma for the mother and in turn resulting in a healthy pregnancy
• Vitamin E is an antioxidant that prevents miscarriage
• It should only be consumed under the guidance of a medical practitioner during the early days of pregnancy.

Vitamin C:

Diet in Pregnancy

• Vitamin C is important for normal immune protection.
• Foods rich in Vitamin C can be consumed in pregnancy.
• Such sources might include tomatoes, citrus fruits, broccoli, and red green and yellow peppers.
• Megadose should be avoided as it might result in preterm birth.
• Consult your doctor before deciding about what quantity to intake.
• Vitamin C also helps your body absorb iron, especially from vegetarian sources.


Diet in Pregnancy

• Fats should not be consumed more than 30% of your diet in pregnancy.
• Over intake of fats might develop glucose resistance, glucose overproduction and diabetes in offspring.
• Eating monounsaturated fat is preferred over saturated varieties. Examples of monounsaturated foods include olive oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, avocado, many nuts and seeds.

Starchy Carbohydrate-Rich Foods:

Diet in Pregnancy

• Such foods include potatoes, rice, pasta and bread, etc.
• Carbohydrates are an important component of a good pregnancy diet as they are high in energy.
• For a steady supply of energy during pregnancy and satiety (feeling of fullness), it is a good idea to eat plenty of wholegrain breads and cereals, wholemeal pasta, wholegrain crackers, oats and brown rice as well as lentils and legumes.
• You should limit carbohydrates that produce a rapid rise in blood glucose levels and have little nutritional value, such as biscuits, cakes, chocolate

Calcium with Vitamin D:

Diet in Pregnancy

• Calcium is very important during pregnancy as it helps in the development of your baby’s bones and teeth.
• General sources of calcium include cheese, milk and yogurt.
• Vegetable sources of calcium include dark leafy vegetables like broccoli, green French beans.
• Recommended calcium intake for pregnant women varies between 900 and 1,200 mg/day


Diet in Pregnancy

• Fiber is very important in pregnancy as it aids proper digestion and prevents constipation.
• Eating plenty of fiber during pregnancy will eliminate the risk of hemorrhoids which is very common during conception as the baby grows.
• Foods such as peas, legumes, turnips, sweet potatoes should be included in the diet for adequate


Diet in Pregnancy

• Zinc plays a major role in normal growth and development, several biological functions and cellular integrity including acid metabolism and protein synthesis.
• It is also important for the development of the fetus.
• The best sources of zinc include tofu, chicken, lentils, sunflower seeds, wheat gram, rice, pasta bran and a lot more.

Folic acid:

Diet in Pregnancy

• Folic acid is important during pregnancy as it helps in preventing neural tube defects.
• 400 mcg of folic acid before and during pregnancy can help prevent birth defects of your baby’s brain and spinal cord.


Diet in Pregnancy

• Iron is a very vital part of hemoglobin which is the oxygen-carrying pigment and main protein in the red blood cells. It’s very important as it carries oxygen throughout the body.
• Because pregnancy will make the blood in your body increase by 50%, you need more iron to make more hemoglobin for all that blood. • Inadequate iron might result in mother becoming anemic and chances of such mis happenings may increase:
- Fatigue, irritability, depression in the mother during pregnancy.
- Premature baby.
- Low weight baby.
- New-born death.
- Stillbirth.

• Foods which are a rich source of iron are:
- Lean meat
- Poultry
- Dried fruits such as apricots
- Egg yolk
- Some fortified whole-grain cereals
- Legumes

So, we have seen the list of foods that should be embraced while you have that precious life in your womb without any complications.

Now, you must also be aware of the list of foods that should be avoided in pregnancy as it could hamper the wellness of you and your baby.

Foods to avoid during pregnancy:

Diet in Pregnancy

Too much caffeine:

Diet in Pregnancy

• Limit your caffeine consumption of the day in pregnancy notmore than 200 mg per day
• High levels of caffeine can result in babies with low birth weight which will invite many health problems in the future for them.
• Too much caffeine can also cause miscarriage.

Herbal Teas:

Diet in Pregnancy

• There is little information about the safety of herbal teas during pregnancy.
• So, it’s always better to avoid what is not known.
• Else you can have it in moderation as per your doctor’s advice.

Raw sprouts:

Raw sprouts are at a greater chance of being contaminated inside the seeds. Sprouts are safe to consume after they are cooked

Uncooked or partially cooked meat:

Diet in Pregnancy

Improperly cooked food, the chances of bacterial and viral infection will rise, which may further cause food poisoning and may also cross the placenta and harm your baby’s wellbeing.

Unwashed Fruit or Vegetable:

The surface or peel of a fruit or veggie may not be free of dirt with several pesticides, parasites and bacteria. It’s important to thoroughly rinse the vegetables and fruits with water before eating.

Raw Eggs:

Diet in Pregnancy

• Anything with half-cooked or undercooked eggs must be avoided as it might lead to salmonella infection.
• This bacteria may cause intrauterine infections, severe enough to provoke miscarriages.

Zero calorie food:

Diet in Pregnancy

Foods with high sugar and fat such as cakes, biscuits, cookies, candy and chips should be kept at minimum consumption as they have little nutritional value and might cause trouble maintaining a proper weight for a pregnant lady.


Diet in Pregnancy

It’s best to avoid alcohol completely during pregnancy as even a small amount can cause a great deal of harm to your baby’s brain development.

Processed Junk Foods:

Diet in Pregnancy

Eating too much junk food during pregnancy may result in excess weight gain, acidity, gestational diabetes and complications that might have long term health complications for your baby.

So, eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, and protein foods.Choose foods and drinks with less added sugars, saturated fats.Limit refined grains and starches, which are in foods like cookies, white bread, and some snack foods.

Diet in Pregnancy