Foods To Eat When Pregnant: First Trimester Diet


Yes, pregnancy is a roller coaster ride. But when you get off the ride, you get to take your baby home! You and your partner are in this journey together. But the physical work is up to you. And you need to be ready for the long haul. To prepare your body to house a new life, you need to eat right.

Here, MomJunction tells you about the foods you should include in your first-trimester diet.

Note that you should discuss any dietary changes with your healthcare provider.

Healthy Foods For Your First Trimester

You require all the essential vitamins and minerals from a varied diet in the first trimester. Folate, vitamin A, and beta-carotene are essential in the early stage of fetal development. So, here is the list of foods you can incorporate into your diet in the first trimester.

1. Spinach

Why it works: Spinach is rich in folate, which is necessary to prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida in the baby. It helps your baby’s neural tube to fuse correctly in the first month of conception (1). Spinach is also high in fiber, iron, vitamins A, C, E, and K, and manganese (2).

Tips to take it in your diet: You can add a handful of spinach in scrambled eggs, or combine it with any other vegetables in curries. You can also add them to smoothies or regular salads.

2. Lentils (beans)

Why they work: They are a great source of protein and fiber that help in the development of the baby’s muscle and tissue (3). Lentils also help in treating constipation, which is common in the first trimester.

Tips to take them in your diet: Lentil soup is the best way to consume them. You can also add them to salads, burgers, tortillas and more.

3. Citrus fruit

Why it works: Citrus fruits such as lemon, oranges, kiwifruit, and grapefruit are rich in folic acid too, which is helpful in baby’s neural development (4).

Tips to take them in your diet: You may make fresh juices. Other options include fruit salads and smoothies.

4. Cottage cheese

Why it works: Cottage cheese provides calcium and protein needed for bone and muscle development of the baby (5).

Tips to take it in your diet: Take it with fruit, mix in smoothies, add to pancakes or pasta or spread it on bread or toast.

5. Nuts

Why they work: Nuts are an excellent source of protein needed for the baby’s growth and development. Walnuts, almonds, cashews, and pistachios have a good amount of protein, healthy fats and fiber (6).

Tips to take them in your diet: You can have a handful of them at any time of the day. Soak them overnight and consume in the morning for better results. Top them on any cereal, yogurt or ice cream.

6. Eggs

Why they work: Eggs are an excellent source of protein, calcium, and vitamin D, all of which are essential for bone and muscle development in the baby. Choline present in egg yolk plays a vital role in fetal brain development (7). Soybeans are an alternative source for vegans.

Tips to take them in your diet: Have hard-boiled eggs, scrambled eggs or omelet for breakfast. You can also add them to vegetable salad, sandwich stuffing, or any other curry.

7. Yogurt:

Why it works: Yogurt is rich in calcium and vitamin D, which are required for bone development in the baby (8).

Tips to take it in your diet: Top it on mixed fruits, or include in a smoothie. Freeze it and mix with chocolate chips. Use it as a salad dressing.

8. Broccoli

Why it works: Rich in iron and folate, it is highly required for the formation of red blood cells and neural tube development (9).

Tips to take it in your diet: You can add it to salads, smoothies, and soups. For a different spin, you can also add to quinoa, grill on barbecue or eat raw.

9. Asparagus

Why it works: Asparagus is rich in folic acid that helps prevent the birth defects of the fetal brain and spinal cord (10).

Tips to take it in your diet: Like spinach, it can be tossed with scrambled eggs, added to salad, soups, omelet, pasta, and stir-fries.

10. Collard greens

Why it works: An excellent source of iron, which is essential during pregnancy for making red blood cells (11).

Tips to take it in your diet: You can add them to salads, sandwich stuffing and wraps, or soups and casseroles.

11. Chicken

Why it works: Chicken contains abundant iron, which helps in making red blood cells, thereby providing both the mom and baby with sufficient oxygen supply (12).

Tips to take it in your diet: Make chicken soup, burgers, sandwiches, salads, and tortillas.

12. Salmon

Why it works: Salmon is rich in calcium and vitamin D and is one of the safest seafood to consume (13).

Tips to take it in your diet: Toss some cooked salmon to the scrambled egg, or cook along with pasta. Grilled salmon, herb-crusted salmon and cobb salad with salmon and veggies are other options.

13. Lean beef

Why it works: Beef is a rich source of iron which helps in the production of red blood cells, thus supplying enough oxygen to the mother and the baby (14). Grass-fed, hormone-free and organic are the best choices.

Tips to take it in your diet: Can be added to burgers, salads, pizza, and pasta. Toss with scrambled eggs and vegetables to make a lunch or dinner dish.

14. Bananas

Why it works: They are a rich source of vitamin B6 that helps curb morning sickness and nausea you experience during early pregnancy. They also contain fiber, potassium, and vitamin C (15).

Tips to take it in your diet: You can slice it up for a dessert, or add to fruit smoothies, or include in a salad.

15. Red bell peppers

Why it works: Vitamin C in them is two times more than that in green bell peppers. The vitamin helps in iron absorption and is responsible for tissue growth and repair (16).

Tips to take them in your diet: You can add them to stir fries, sandwiches, burgers, salads. Casseroles and stuffed peppers with rice are other ideal options.

16. Avocados

Why they work: Avocados are nutrient-rich fruits with high levels of folate, fiber, protein, and antioxidants. They contain monosaturated fats that protect against heart ailments. They are also known to curb morning sickness and assist in the fetal brain and tissue development (17).

Tips to take them in your diet: Bake it along with egg, sandwich or toast filling, dip, salad dressing, and salsa.

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Foods To Avoid During The First Trimester

Here are some foods which are a strict no-no during the first trimester (18).

  • Mercury-containing fish such as king mackerel, shark, and swordfish
  • Undercooked or raw eggs and shellfish
  • Unpasteurized milk
  • Soft cheeses including feta, brie, and blue cheese
  • Raw sprouts
  • Unwashed fruits and vegetables
  • Papaya, pineapple, black grapes (19)
  • Caffeine in excess
  • Excess sugary foods such as sweetened beverages and desserts

To make it easier for you, we have also included a diet chart you can follow in the first trimester.

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Sample Diet Chart For First Trimester

You should look for the right balance of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients throughout your pregnancy, especially in your first trimester.

According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, food is simplified into five major groups. Here is a simple diet chart for you: (20).

Food groupServing per dayTypeOne serving of each food type equals
Fruits2 to 4Fresh, canned, frozen, juices and include at least one citrus fruit
  • 1 medium apple/banana/orange
  • ½ cup fruit juice
  • ½ cup chopped/canned/cooked fruit
  • ¼ cup dried fruit
Vegetables3 to 5Raw or cooked
  • 1 cup salad greens
  • ¾ cup vegetable juice
  • ½ cup cooked/raw vegetables
Dairy3 to 4Milk, cheese, yogurt and soy milk
  • 1 cup milk/yogurt
  • 1 ½ – 2oz cheese
  • 1 cup cottage cheese


Protein2 to 3Meat, lentils, beans, poultry, fish, nuts and seeds
  • 2–3oz cooked poultry, lean meat or fish
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup tofu
  • 4tbsp peanut butter
  • ¼ cup nuts
Whole grains6 to 11Whole grain flour, bread, crackers and cereals
  • 1 slice whole grain bread
  • ½ English muffin ½ bread roll
  • ½ large pita
  • 1 small tortilla
  • ¾ cup cold cereal
  • ½ cup cooked rice, pasta or cereal

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This list is just a basic pointer for an excellent first-trimester diet. You can alter it according to your needs and doctor’. And don’t forget your prenatal vitamins.

The first trimester is crucial, and this is the time when the risk of developing birth defects and miscarriage is high. The baby’s organs begin to develop and require the right kind of nutrition. Therefore, focus on your food and stay active.

What are you eating in the first trimester? Are you getting all the required nutrients? Tell us in the comments section below!

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Rebecca Malachi

She is a Biotechnologist with a proficiency in areas of genetics, immunology, microbiology, bio-engineering, chemical engineering, medicine, pharmaceuticals to name a few. Her expertise in these fields has greatly assisted her in writing medical and life science articles. With 8+ years of work experience in writing for health and wellness, she is now a full-time contributor for She is passionate about giving research-based information to readers in need. Apart from writing, she is a foodie, loves travel, fond of gospel music and enjoys observing nature in silence. Know more about her at:
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