Here’s a simple list of the best foods to eat in the first trimester of pregnancy. These are the healthiest, traditional foods that mothers in early pregnancy have been eating for generations to make healthy babies.
If You Have Morning Sickness…
Are you newly pregnant and don’t know what to eat? If you have morning sickness and just need some food ideas that help quell nausea that you can keep down, check out my list of 50+ Mostly Healthy Foods to Eat When You Have Morning Sickness.
If you really want to get rid of the morning sickness, though, start HERE with my best advice on how to get rid of morning sickness altogether.
If you don’t have morning sickness OR you’re just looking for ideas on the very best foods and superfoods to eat during your first trimester of pregnancy, though, read on!
The Best Early Pregnancy Foods are Nutrient Dense
Superfoods have kind of gotten a lot of media attention in the last decade or so. I think we all just like anything that’s SUPER–heroes, markets, and our foods!
I mean, if we are eating superfoods, that makes US kind of special and superhuman, right? Who wouldn’t want that?
And superfoods are great. I just feel like we tend to see superfoods as mainly plant foods. I think it’s really important to remember that animal foods raised well can be just as super as broccoli and blueberries.
So let’s expand our idea of superfoods (especially for pregnancy) as those foods which supply the most nutrients for our pregnant body and growing baby.
Pasture raised meats, for example, have far greater levels of vitamins and healthy forms of fats (like omega 3 or CLA) than meats raised on grains.
Also, because industrially farmed fruits and vegetables actually have fewer nutrients than they used to, the best and most nutrient dense foods are those grown locally.
In my opinion, local is better than industrial organic.
Finding a local CSA may be the easiest and best solution for fresh fruits and vegetables. A CSA (community-supported agriculture) is a program where you pay in advance to get a box of produce on a regular basis from local sources.
I know this makes our lives harder but it’s so important! The more nutrient dense our food is, the more nourished our body and baby can be.
The Best Foods for Early Pregnancy are Low in Toxins
Babies are so sweet and vulnerable. And that teeny tiny baby in your uterus during your first trimester is no exception.
I am not a fan of fear-mongering or guilt trips. I do, however, think it’s really important to remember that one way to love your baby is to improve how you eat.
At the same time, I know that eating in pregnancy can be HARD! During pregnancy was literally the hardest time of my life to eat well. I get it, mama! Food almost became my enemy during those 9 months. I got tired of eating, of wanting food, of smelling food, of thinking about food, of anything to do with food!
But if you can do anything right now in this first trimester that is beneficial to your baby, it’s eating well.
A few ways you can reduce toxins in your first trimester foods are:
- Switch over to organic on your most consumed foods (especially if they are produce in the Dirty Dozen!)
- Buy local meats, eggs, and dairy products from farmers who work hard to keep toxins out of their farms
- Don’t eat farmed fish! Please eat wild fish.
A few changes in the foods you buy can be so beneficial to you and your baby. If you can’t buy all organic, though, please don’t stew about it. Your body does what it can to reduce toxic loads to your baby.
Buy the best food you can, and then simply be grateful for nourishment. Stress in mama can affect your baby just as much as toxins! Try to just let go and trust your body to help you grow a beautiful, healthy baby.
A List of Healthy, Best Foods to Eat in First Trimester of Pregnancy
- Grass fed beef & other pasture-raised meats
- Eggs from pastured chickens
- Organic (or local) leafy greens
- Organic or wild berries
- Wild seafood (or clean, farmed shellfish)
- Bone broth from your pastured, local animals
- Full fat dairy (organic or local, as clean as possible)
- Healthy fats like coconut oil and good olive oil
- Don’t hate me, but liver and organ meats (I know, I know!)
What To Do If That List Completely Overwhelms You
Look, I know how hard eating super healthy can be.
If you’re coming from a Standard American Diet or you rely on a lot of prepared foods, that list might upset you. It’s probably going to make you mad, or angry, or overwhelmed, or sad, or some other negative emotion I haven’t thought of yet.
If you’re already incorporating some of these foods, you might feel a little better but you might be overwhelmed by a few of those foods (bone broth or organ meats?) or how you are going to source healthier versions.
Don’t throw in the towel. Just start by choosing one thing on the list to get locally. Eggs are a great choice. Lots of people have chickens these days are selling their pastured eggs to others. Eggs are SO IMPORTANT as a pregnancy food. Getting great eggs and eating a couple every day is a wonderful step towards a healthy pregnancy.
Then, the next time you are at the grocery, buy some organic berries & greens and some full fat organic yogurt. A smoothie several times a week is a great way to add these foods to your diet.
After you’ve done that, try to procure some local beef, lamb or chicken. Then simply eat that for dinner several nights a week. If you have a good local market, you might be able to find this in the store. Or you might have a great farmer’s market near you.
If you’re feeling really brave, check out LocalHarvest.org. You’ll find farms you didn’t even know existed in your area that are producing fabulous and healthy foods. Have a fun Saturday morning date going to the meet the farmer and buy some locally sourced items. It doesn’t have to be a chore. Think of it more as an adventure.
Actual Meal & Snack Ideas for a Super Healthy First Trimester
Okay, so you’ve moved a little past the overwhelm and you’ve upgraded your foods a little. Maybe you’ve started cooking a bit more, but still feel a wee bit stuck on what to eat on a daily basis.
Here’s the most important thing:
Keep your daily food really simple.
I mean it! Really, really simple.
All meals should consist of a protein, healthy fat, and a good carb source.
Make breakfasts simple either a smoothie, egg & veg scramble, or avocado toast with an egg on the side. A good protein smoothie can be easy and nourishing. Read more here about choosing a great protein powder.
Lunch is easiest when you’ve saved bits of meat and veg and starches from other meals. Combine them in a bowl and add a good sauce or dressing to revitalize them. One of my favorite lunches is hummus with extra virgin olive oil drizzled on top and scooped up with sliced peppers, cucumbers, and snow peas or gluten free crackers.
For dinner, focus on making those things that you can easily eat again for lunch a few more times. Roast some chicken, grill some steak, slow cook a roast, bake some lamb chops. If you’ve got the oven on, chop and roast some extra veggies on the side. Make a simple salad (and make your own dressing to avoid industrial oils please). Steam up some simple vegetables or grains.
Some Real Talk on Healthy Eating While Pregnant
Honestly, writing this: it sounds both easy and hard to me.
I know how soul-sucking cooking and eating can be when you’re pregnant and exhausted. Sometimes even if we’re not!
My best advice from years of living with pregnancy and exhaustion and overwhelm is to try to make food prep something you really enjoy so that you look forward to it. One of my favorite tricks is to listen to podcasts or audiobooks while I’m cooking or cleaning the kitchen. Sometimes I need more of my brain to cook, though. In that case, I listen to whatever music sounds most lovely to me at that moment.
Perhaps you need a little bit of mindset work to change how you feel about cooking. Try setting a reminder on your phone around the time you should start dinner that says, “I love nourishing my baby and my body by cooking and eating super-nutritious foods” or “Cooking whole foods is fun and relaxing.” Choose a sentence that helps you to change your mindset around cooking. This can be so helpful!
My second best advice is take liver every day. I’ve found this brand to be, well, perfect! It is organic and really affordable. Taking liver daily will improve your iron stores and bring your energy up, I promise. You’ll feel so much better. Give it a try right here and let me know what you think! I still take it every single day.
Finally, focus on protein. Taking the liver capsules will help, but every snack and meal (especially breakfast) should have a protein foundation. If this is hard, start adding some great protein powders to your diet, like collagen in your drinks and foods to strengthen that foundation (read more here).
Want to learn more about prenatal nutrition?
If you’re wondering if I’m crazy…
Or you’ve never heard of eating traditional meat and dairy as part of a good prenatal diet…
Or this all seems natural and intuitive and you’re just wondering where this information has been, I have some great resource recommendations for you!
This one is such an excellent resource. My friend Allie just developed a course called the Perfect Pregnancy Plan. She spent a ton of time researching the best ways to eat to have the healthiest baby. She includes the latest research that shows you what to eat to directly influence the health of your baby. Did you know that you can turn genes on and off with your foods? This is the kind of stuff that we all wish we knew when we were pregnant, but now YOU are in the lucky position of being able to learn this while you can still do something about it! I love it! Allie is a mom and personal fitness trainer, so she can also teach you a ton about the very best exercises so you feel good during your pregnancy and postpartum. I gotta tell you, she is not charging enough for these courses for the amazing amount of information contained in them. So get Allie’s Perfect Pregnancy Plan nutrition and fitness courses now before the price goes up and you will have access to them whenever you need them in the future.
Beautiful Babies – Nutrition for Fertility, Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, & Baby’s First Foods by Kristen Michaelis is an great book to get started on this topic of traditional wisdom in prenatal nutrition. The author examines other cultures and modern studies to give a good primer on eating for women in their childbearing years. This book is a great user friendly introduction with recipes if you don’t need ALL the details and science-y references.
Real Food for Pregnancy by Lily Nichols (a registered dietitian/nutritionist) is really the premier modern resource for pregnancy nutrition. It is super well researched if you’re into the science. And it’s just really well written to explain why and how we should eat real foods. If you’re into the best prenatal nutrition information available that blows every other book on the subject out of the water, you must get this book!
Just keep going!
Whatever you do, try to turn the way you eat and prepare foods into a ritual that feel meaningful to you. Your food prep should help you derive peace and satisfaction, not stress. Not only will you eat better, you will increase your overall happiness in life by choosing intentional, loving actions that serve you and your growing baby well.
Please don’t get completely overwhelmed with trying to eat perfectly and give up (especially in your first trimester)!
I asked on Instagram stories today (find me here!) what changes people had made to eat well in their first trimester. One person told me, “Honestly, I decided to eat better as soon as I found out I was pregnant. But when I started feeling sick, I pretty much ate only chicken nuggets and fries for a long time.”
I totally get that, I do. If that’s you, give yourself some grace. Then get to Costco and buy some organic nuggets and fries to eat until you start feeling better.
I know it’s hard. But it’s so worth it!