First Trimester Diet in Pregnancy – Foods to Eat & Avoid

Guide to First Trimester Diet: Foods to Eat and Avoid

Medically Reviewed By
Archana Shah (Diabetologist/Nutritionist/Dietitian)
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Being pregnant can give rise to a whole range of emotions – from joy to anxiety to excitement. It can also be physically taxing, which makes it important that you pay sufficient attention to your health and well-being, all through the pregnancy. A nutritious diet and regular exercise will help your baby get a good start, too.

Video: Guide to Pregnancy First Trimester Diet: Foods to Eat and Avoid

Planning Your First Trimester Diet

The right balance of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients is what you should look at all through your pregnancy, and especially in the first trimester. Include foods that are rich in folates, which is essential for the proper development of your baby’s nervous system. Here is a sample diet chart for the first trimester of pregnancy.

Food Category Daily Serving Type
Fruits 2-3 servings Fresh, frozen, canned, juices, include at least one citrus fruit
Vegetables 3-5 servings Cooked vegetables
Dairy 3 cups Milk, yoghurt, cheese, fortified soy milk
Protein 2-3 cups Beans, meats, lentils, fish, poultry, nuts, seeds,
Whole Grains 3 servings Whole-grain bread, cereals, crackers

Nutritional Needs in Early Pregnancy

Just because you are eating for two doesn’t mean that you have to instantly double your food intake. This is because you do not need extra calories until you are in the third trimester. However, the body needs a greater amount of protein, folic acid, Vitamin D, and Vitamin A during this time. You can get these through prenatal vitamins and essential supplements.

1. Prenatal Vitamins

If you follow a healthy diet, then all you need would be a prenatal vitamin that can provide 400mcg of folic acid and 10 mcg of Vitamin D per day. There are many such multi-vitamins available in the market and your doctor will be able to prescribe you one.

2. Essential Supplements

When taking supplements during pregnancy, it is important to stay within the daily allowance. You can check the labels of the bottle of supplements to make your calculations. See if calcium, iodine, iron, magnesium, potassium, riboflavin, also known as B2, thiamine, also known as B1, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Zinc, Vitamin B-12, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D are present in the supplements you consume.


Foods to Eat in the First Trimester of Pregnancy

Pregnant women need about 300 calories, in addition to their normal food intake. Complex carbohydrates like whole grain bread, pasta, vegetables, beans, and legumes need to be consumed on a regular basis. A good amount of fluids and fibre must also be a part of your daily diet when pregnant. The following are some other foods that should become part of your diet during this important phase of life.

1. Vegetables

It is important to have around three to five servings of vegetables in various colours. Spinach is a rich source of folic acid, so you should try to include it in your daily diet. Broccoli has a high iron content, which helps in the formation of red blood cells in the baby during the first trimester. However, women with hypothyroidism should avoid broccoli. Green peas, tomatoes, red, green, and yellow bell peppers, asparagus, and sweet potatoes are all recommended for the first trimester.

2. Fruits

The recommended amount of fruits for the first trimester of pregnancy is at least three servings per day. Citrus fruits are a good source of folic acid, so try to eat grapefruits, oranges, and sweet limes on a regular basis. Avocados, bananas, pears, cantaloupes, cherries, grapes, guavas, apples, watermelons, pomegranates, and mangoes are some other fruits to include in your diet.

3. Non-Vegetarian Food

When deciding on the type of non-vegetarian food for a first-trimester diet, you can include warm chicken soup, eggs, and lean meats. Be sure to eat well-cooked poultry and meats to prevent any digestive issues and bacterial infections. Fish is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, but you should avoid deep-sea fishes like king mackerel, shrimp, shark, and swordfish, which tend to have a high mercury content.

4. Dairy Products

When aiming for the required three portions of dairy per day, you can choose cottage cheese, as it is a good source of not just protein, but also calcium, which is essential for bone and muscle development. Yoghurt, curd, low-fat milk, and different varieties of cheese can be consumed during the first trimester.

5. Whole Grains

Whole wheat, oats, barley, corn, millet, and rice are some whole grains to include in your first-trimester diet. Lentils in the form of soup or cutlets can be made a part of your diet during pregnancy. Grains provide energy to your baby and are essential for the growth of the placenta.

6. Protein

See that you get at least two servings of proteins per day. Eggs are a rich source of protein, alongside dairy products like cottage cheese. So are fish, meats, nuts, poultry, milk, and peanut butter. Make sure you are not allergic to dairy or nuts.

7. Other Foods

Nausea and morning sickness are likely to last through the first trimester. So, you might also want to keep some stomach-friendly food items handy, such as ginger ale, crackers, pretzels, and flavoured popsicles.


Food to Avoid in the First Trimester

Food cravings are quite normal during pregnancy, but it is important to ensure that you do not lose sight of your nutrition goals while fulfilling these cravings. There are also some foods that are a strict no-no during pregnancy, especially the first trimester. They include:

  • Fish containing mercury, such as swordfish, king mackerel, and shark
  • Raw or undercooked shellfish and eggs
  • Raw meats and poultry
  • Milk that is not pasteurised
  • Soft cheeses such as brie, feta, or blue cheese that are unpasteurised
  • Raw sprouts
  • Fruits and vegetables that are not washed properly
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Black grapes
  • Eggplant
  • Cabbage and lettuce
  • Excess caffeine
  • Too much of sugary food such as desserts and sweetened beverages

Healthy Diet Tips to Follow in Early Pregnancy

Maintaining a healthy diet during early pregnancy involves getting the right balance of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. You can ensure this by:

  • Choose healthy food options such as salads, soups, fruits, and steamed veggies whenever you feel hungry in between meals or at snack time, instead of quick solutions like packaged products.
  • Drink lots of water and other fluids to stay hydrated
  • Don’t forget to take your prenatal vitamins and folic acid supplements every day.
  • Avoid alcohol and cut down caffeine intake.
  • Stay active and exercise moderately, depending on your health conditions
  • Don’t miss any doctor appointments or scheduled checkups.


Food Substitutions You Can Make During the First Trimester

If your favourite foods have suddenly become a strict no-no during pregnancy, it can be hard to resist sudden cravings, especially when you’re trying to stay true to your diet. However, these food substitutions can help you get through those cravings.

1. Fried Items

Fried items can easily be substituted for baked ones. You can get baked or air fried chips and nachos at a supermarket. Popcorn is also a low calorie, yummy substitute if you’re craving something crunchy and salty.

2. Ice Cream

Replace ice cream with frozen yoghurt, that is just as creamy and comes in a variety of flavours. You’ll hardly be able to tell the difference. Bonus points for adding healthy toppings like fruits.

3. Chocolate

This isn’t much of a substitution, but if you’re craving some chocolate, opt for plain dark chocolate, rather than milk or white chocolate, which have loads of sugar.

The first trimester is crucial for many reasons. This is the period when the risk of miscarriage and birth defects are the highest. This is also the time when your baby’s vital organs start developing and need the right type of nutrition. So, focusing on what you eat and staying active during pregnancy, especially during the first three months, ensures your baby is as healthy as possible.

References and Resources: Healthline

Also Read:

Healthy Indian Diet during Pregnancy
Fruits That You Should Not Eat during Pregnancy
Best Fruits to Eat during Pregnancy

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