‘Eat This, Not That’: Essential Food Guide for Moms-to-Be

Here’s what expectant moms should be eating in each trimester.

ByABC News
May 18, 2016, 7:11 AM

— -- Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News’ chief women’s health correspondent, teamed up with Dave Zinczenko for the new book, “Eat This, Not That When You're Expecting” to offer expectant mothers a guide on what to eat for each trimester of their pregnancies.

Ashton is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist who recently earned her master’s degree in clinical nutrition from Columbia University. In an appearance on “GMA” today she said her nutrition expertise would allow her to write a book from a position of authority on both subjects – pregnancy and nutrition.

Zinczenko is the author of the “Eat This, Not That!” series that focuses on helping people eat healthier.

Several pregnant women appeared in the “GMA” Times Square studio today with questions for Ashton. The doctor also offered the following advice for what the women should eat in each trimester of their pregnancies:

First Trimester

Ashton said this is the time to lay the groundwork for a diet that will give pregnant women energy and feed their babies.

Eat This: Lean meats, fish, beans and whole grains. Moms-to-be should also take prenatal vitamins and can try lemon and ginger to help with morning sickness.

Not That: Avoid rich, fatty foods and sugary beverages.

Second Trimester

Just because an expectant mother is starting to show, it doesn’t mean she needs to actually eat for two. This trimester is crucial for healthy weight gain, so moms-to-be should add 300 to 400 calories per day to support the baby’s growth, Ashton said.

Eat This: Load up on anti-inflammatory Omega-3s, such as walnuts, chia seeds, grass-fed meat, eggs and wild rice. To relieve heartburn, try some of the “craving crushers” listed in the book, such as chicken spinach salad with apple Dijon vinaigrette. The dressing will provide a hit of acid without the heartburn.

Not That: Salty, oily, acidic foods. Avoid coffee, too, as it can cause heartburn (limit it to two cups per day). Avoid elaborate ice cream concoctions, such as peanut butter cup ice cream. Some brands have trans fats, which can hurt the baby.

Third Trimester

It’s time to add another 100 calories to your daily intake.

Eat This: Get more calcium – from milk (cow, almond or soy), almonds, dark leafy greens. Calcium is crucial for the development of the baby’s skeletal system. Add bananas to your diet; the potassium can help fight back cramps and swollen legs. Also, drinks lots of water. Believe it or not, drinking more water can help fight water retention.

Not That: Avoid salty foods, which can make swollen legs worse. For moms-to-be who want to eat junk food, pick the right brands. Studies show that an expectant mother’s intake may cause her child to have a predilection for unhealthy eating when he or she grows up, Ashton said.


Have the Baby, Keep the Body

By Dr. Jennifer Ashton

“I’m a terrible mother,” one of my patients told me last year. “And I haven’t even had the baby yet!” Confused, I asked her to explain. “It’s about food,” she admitted. “After every bite, I worry about whether or not it’s good for baby. And then I feel worse, because I worry whether it’s good for me. I’m eating for two but don’t want to look and feel like it!”

As a mother of two, I know how she feels. There are few times more joyous in a woman’s life than when she learns she’s pregnant—and few times as anxious as her first meal afterwards, when the unsurety kicks in over what to eat. That’s why I wrote "Eat This, Not That! When You’re Expecting." As an OB/GYN with a full-time practice—not to mention in my roles as Chief Women’s Health Correspondent at ABC News, and as co-host of The Doctors—it’s my mission to give you the most accessible, up-to-date and actionable information to ensure you stay healthy during your pregnancy, and have a beautiful, bouncy bundle of joy at the end. (And I’ve delivered more than 1,500 of them!)

That’s why my book tells you exactly which brand-names to buy at the supermarket, the precise dishes to order at your favorite restaurants and which delicious meals to cook at home, with complete trimester-by-trimester meal plans for a healthy, happy baby—and you. Here’s a taste of the delicious foods to eat every three months. And remember: For the first-ever doctor-recommended plan for baby and you, don’t miss "Eat This, Not That! When You’re Expecting" —available now!


Never thought you’d be a body builder? Think again! Body building is literally what you’re doing as you’re creating a new life during pregnancy, which means you’ve got to be pumping that iron—at least in nutrient form.


Beef or chicken liver. It contains a huge concentration of easy-to-break-down iron—more than 3.5 mg per serving—so you may see it on lists of what to eat to up your iron intake. But because having too much vitamin A can harm your baby—and this stuff has a lot of it!—you’ll want to steer clear until after baby’s born.


Grass-fed lean beef—ground. Three ounces of the stuff (think the size of a deck of cards) provides 3.2 mg of digestible iron. Just cook it thoroughly so there’s no trace of pink or blood—now is not the time to risk getting sick from a parasite.

Dark chocolate. No joke! When it comes to iron, ounce for ounce, your favorite indulgence makes lean beef chuck look like a lightweight. Just one ounce of the stuff with 70–85 percent cacao—like the brands approved in Eat This, Not That! When You’re Expecting, provides 3.4 mg of your daily 27 mg goal.

Pumpkin seeds. The great thing about these crunchy seeds is that you only need to consume them in small quantities to reap the health benefits. One ounce contains more than eight grams of protein and is also high in iron, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc (important for a healthy immune system).


Vitamin D is a bit of a wonder nutrient: It works hand-in-hand with calcium to help baby’s bones and teeth develop, and it’s key for healthy skin and eyesight (yours and your bundle’s). Plus, it may be associated with a lower chance of preeclampsia—a serious condition that can threaten your health. We all know our bodies produce vitamin D when sunshine hits our skin, but given skin cancer risks (not to mention the fact that premature aging and pregnancy-related dark spots aren’t so cute), your best bet is to get your D through yummy snacks and meals. Great food sources include D-fortified dairy and fatty fish such as salmon.


Seared tuna. Its D content is respectable at best (70 IU in a half-ounce fillet), but the bigger problem is the preparation. Undercooked fish may contain parasites or bacteria; that’s why you’re steering clear of your favorite sushi joint for nine months (as well as the other fish I mention in Eat This, Not That! When You’re Expecting). Remember that raw-in-the-middle fish (and meat!) are off-limits till D-day.


Grilled, baked, or roasted wild salmon. The tasty fish is one of nature’s best sources of D, with a three-ounce serving packing 447 IU (that takes care of most of your daily 600 IU right there). Make sure to cook it to at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit—all fish and meat should be eaten piping hot.

Fortified cereal. It’s perhaps the easiest way to get this sometimes elusive nutrient. Look for whole-grain options that contain at least 40 IU of vitamin D, without artificial colors or loads of sugar—like the ones mentioned in Eat This, Not That When You’re Expecting—and pair with a half- cup of fortified skim milk, and you’ve taken in 100 IU in one fell swoop.


Maybe you’re freaking out a teensy bit about labor and delivery and would prefer to just stay pregnant . . . or perhaps you feel impatient for baby to get here already—seriously, can your body support another pound of weight? The likely truth is that you’re feeling both of these things—and much, much more. Your whole world has already changed and shifted through pregnancy, but you know that once your precious bundle arrives, nothing will ever be the same again—in the best way possible. Food is here to help.


Salty foods. Avoid salty foods and drink plenty of water to prevent swollen legs. In the book, I tell you exactly which restaurant and supermarket foods have too much sodium—and which are OK to eat. (And strange but true: Drinking more water actually helps nix water retention.)


Bananas. Leg cramps? Ouch! These can be debilitating. Make sure you’re getting plenty of potassium—bananas are a good and easy source. You’ll be back to prenatal yoga in no time.

An early dinner. You might not be able to avoid it entirely, but by making sure to eat small amounts through the day—and by finishing dinner or dessert three hours before bedtime —you can minimize its effects. Especially if you eat at the restaurants approved by the book.

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