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Thorne Supplements: Pregnancy Food Chart: What to Eat in Each Trimester

Whether you’re a first-time mom, a veteran caregiver, or the support system for a mother-to-be, navigating nutrition during pregnancy can be a daunting task. Wading through the blogs, books, and Facebook mom groups likely will leave you wide-eyed and feeling more lost than when you started. So, Thorne has broken this down into a pregnancy food chart to make it easy for you to focus on healthy eating when pregnant.

nutritional salad

But before we look at food first trimester, a quick word on dieting – dieting while pregnant is not recommended and can be unsafe for mother and baby. A pregnant woman has a greater demand for nutrients and if she is restricting certain foods or cutting calories, then it can lead to nutrient deficiencies that can have an adverse impact on the health of the fetus.

Stay food-safe during pregnancy

First things first – let’s talk a little about some basics of foods to limit or avoid during pregnancy. You’ve probably already heard about no alcohol or no sushi (bummer, I know), but there are a couple others that might not be obvious at first.

  1. Soft and unpasteurized cheeses like brie or feta

  2. Deli meats and hot dogs

  3. Raw or partially cooked eggs, including sunny side up or hollandaise sauce

  4. High-mercury content fish, like mackerel, tuna, or swordfish

  5. Raw bean sprouts, like alfalfa or mung bean

  6. Excessive caffeine (ahem, looking at you, double espresso latte)

It’s also important to have safe food handling practices. This means cleaning hands and surfaces that contact food, washing fresh produce, separating meats from ready-to-eat foods to prevent cross-contamination, cooking to the proper internal temperatures (no rare steaks, okay?), and chilling leftover foods promptly.

Now that those bases are covered, let’s dig into the pregnancy food chart to review what to eat during the first trimester.

First trimester foods

Because the first trimester is a period of key development of a baby’s neurological system, it’s important to learn what to eat first trimester. Folic acid – also referred to as folate – helps the fetal spinal cord fully develop early in pregnancy and is a component of healthy red blood cells. Get folic acid by eating lots of citrus fruits, leafy greens, and fortified breakfast cereals.

Also, during the first trimester, a baby’s bones and teeth begin to develop, so getting enough bone-building minerals, like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, can optimize these structures. Although we often think of dairy foods as primary sources of these minerals (and rightly so), other foods, including calcium-fortified juices, leafy greens, whole grains, and seafood can also be rich sources.

Let’s not forget choline and iodine! Choline optimizes neurological development and cognition, and iodine promotes mom’s thyroid hormone production while the fetal thyroid gland isn’t quite developed yet. What foods are rich in choline? When it comes to foods for first trimester, add eggs (the yolks specifically, but cook them well), animal proteins, navy beans, and Brussels sprouts to your meals. Wouldn’t it be great if one of these pregnancy taste changes made Brussels sprouts a new fave? Here’s hoping!

Iodine intake typically is covered by iodized table salt added to foods. However, if you use sea salt or Himalayan pink salt, then these salts often don’t have added iodine, so you’ll need to get iodine from other food sources, like seaweed, fish and shellfish, dairy, and eggs. Just not raw versions like noted above.

Second trimester foods

As the baby’s growth rate picks up and the baby bump begins to show in the second trimester, you might start to feel your energy level slowing down. Totally valid, because you.are.growing.a.human. This extra living thing not only takes more day-to-day mental energy, it is also wholly dependent on the nutrients you’re feeding your own body.

To resist fatigue and keep your energy level up, focus on foods rich in iron. Iron, a vital component of hemoglobin in red blood cells, oxygenates your organs and your growing baby – and iron needs double during pregnancy! Look to animal proteins for the highly available heme-iron form, and plant foods including spinach, kale, beans, and edamame that contain the non-heme iron form for some plant-powered nutrition. To enhance iron’s absorption, pair these foods with vitamin C from citrus fruits, tomatoes, bell peppers, and berries.

Still feeling sluggish? You might not be getting enough vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 also has a role in red blood cell formation, as well as neurological functioning, so B12 is not one to forget about! For our vegetarian and vegan readers, as well as anyone feeling adventurous enough to try a new vitamin B12-rich food, pick up some nutritional yeast, which can be used as a popcorn seasoning, sprinkled over roasted veggies, or added to make cheesy-flavored sauces!

Because some individuals have a genetic anomaly that makes it difficult for their body to utilize B vitamins, Thorne’s standalone Vitamin B12 and the B12 and folate in Thorne’s Basic Prenatal multi-vitamin/mineral supplement are in the methylated forms, making them tissue-ready!

Third trimester foods

The third trimester is the home stretch! As you gear up for baby to make the anticipated entrance, don’t forget about healthy hydration. Moms carrying this extra load must remember to replenish their fluids and keep their electrolyte levels up – daily – even if this means frequent trips to the restroom. Hydrating with Thorne’s Catalyte® will support healthy muscle contraction and maintain optimal electrolyte balance.* Let’s keep those Braxton-Hicks false-labor contractions away, mama!

Essential fatty acids are another healthy addition during pregnancy, as well as for your basic foundational nutrition support.* Particularly in the third trimester, omega-3 fatty acids play a role in healthy brain development.* One of these omega-3s, DHA (like what’s in Thorne’s Prenatal DHA) accumulates in the baby’s brain from the third trimester through the first two years of life to promote healthy nervous system development.* These essential fatty acids are also in cold-water fatty fish, like salmon or sardines, as well as in nuts, seeds, avocados, and vegetable and olive oils.

Pregnancy food chart

To review the foods to focus on each trimester, here’s the pregnancy food chart we promised. Although this is not an exhaustive list, these foods can be a part of a healthy eating pattern to support mom and baby during this life-changing process.

First Trimester:

  • citrus fruits

  • leafy greens

  • dairy and eggs

  • whole grains

  • low-mercury fish and seafood

Second trimester:

  • lean animal proteins

  • spinach and kale

  • beans and edamame

  • nutritional yeast

  • citrus fruits and berries

  • bell peppers and tomatoes

Third Trimester:

  • hydrating fluids

  • cold water, fatty fish (like salmon or sardines)

  • nuts and seeds

  • avocadoes

  • vegetable and olive oils

  • bok choy, kale, collard greens

Trimester-to-trimester nutrition needs can be difficult to meet. That’s where a prenatal supplement, like Thorne’s Basic Prenatal, can be a nice addition to the daily routine to cover the things a pregnant woman needs. As always during pregnancy, it’s best to consult with your health-care professional about beginning a new nutritional supplement to ensure you’re getting enough nutrition for yourself and a growing baby.

If you want to learn more about what to eat when pregnant, first trimester through third trimester, and postpartum nutrition support, then check out these Take 5 Daily articles:

  1. Why Prenatal Vitamins Are Important Before, During, and After Pregnancy

  2. Why is DHA Important During Pregnancy?

  3. How Will Pregnancy Affect My Blood Sugar Levels?

  4. Common but Sneaky Symptoms of Low Iron During Pregnancy


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