Healthy Eating for Pregnant Teens

Ten Ways to Make Healthy Food Choices During Pregnancy

Young Pregnant Woman in Grocery Store
Getty Images/Vasileios Economou

Healthy eating while pregnant is important for any woman, but being pregnant, and a teenager, requires some extra handling to ensure your diet is what it needs to be for baby and Mommy's health. Eating right doesn’t necessarily mean eliminating your favorite foods from your diet. However, pregnancy nutrition does mean eating for two. Both you and your baby are dependent on what you put in your mouth for nutrition so be mindful about meal planning.

By planning ahead and learning to make healthy food choices you can increase your baby’s chances of being born healthy.

From Fast Food to Fresh Food 

Most teens eat lots of sandwiches and hamburgers. If you must eat sandwiches and other fast food, be sure to put fresh ingredients on them such as lettuce, tomatoes, and other sliced veggies – the more the better – on your sandwiches and burgers when you are pregnant to increase the nutritional value of your meal. You may also try a homemade veggie burger that incorporates beans, lentils, and other hearty veggies and legumes to maintain the full feeling you may get from having a hamburger. In other dishes such as pastas, casseroles, and soups, add lots of fresh veggies and fruit when you are pregnant. Just don’t try to make them “tastier” by adding additional fat such as butter, creams, or sauces.

From White Processed to Whole Grains

If you are trapped in a “white bread world,” pregnancy is a good time to learn to use only whole-grain breads and rolls.

Switch from instant oatmeal with artificial sugars to rolled oats with fresh fruit or natural sweeteners like maple syrup or dates to satisfy your sweet tooth.

From Pizza to Veggie Pies 

Pizza is not always an unhealthy choice for pregnant teens. However, it will take some effort to make your pizza healthier by adding lots of vegetables and extra cheese instead of fat and sodium-laden meats such as pepperoni and sausage.

You might also play with making healthier sauces by steaming veggies and blending them into your sauce. You might also try healthier options for a crust such as a cauliflower crust or even a raw vegan option. You don't have to sacrifice taste. Play with recipes and find the right ingredients so you can maintain eating healthier versions of your favorite foods so you don't feel deprived.

From Sodas and Caffeine to Water, 100% Juice and Milk

Fruit juices and milk are an especially important component of a pregnant teen’s diet. Sodas and coffee consumption should be minimal or completely cut out during pregnancy. You will do better with the nutrients found in 100% juice and milk. The less added sugar you have in your drinks, the better for baby and you. Milk can help provide calcium, which is vital for the healthy development of your baby and the health of your own growing bones and teeth. Instead of eating ice cream when you are pregnant, try eating other dairy options such as yogurt, mozzarella cheese, and cottage cheese.

From Frying to Baking, Griling, or Broiling Meats

Always a good idea for reducing fat and particularly important for pregnant teens is to prepare meats by baking, broiling, or grilling instead of frying. In terms of what you pair your meats with, baked potatoes without butter or sour cream are a far healthier choice during pregnancy, or anytime, than french fries. Make up for the loss of fat by adding healthy oils and fats such as avocado, olive oil and the like with varying herbs and spices which will give you the taste you are looking for.

From Sweets to Whole Foods for Dessert

It used to be you'd grab candy when you get the munchies, but that won't serve baby or your growing body. Instead of candy bars or cookies for snacks, try eating fresh dried fruits or raw veggies. For desserts create whole food versions of your favorite tastes. Make a sweet tasting smoothie with fruit you love to satisfy your sweet tooth or try a chocolate shake made with cacao powder, almonds, and dates which taste just like the real thing. Keep your fridge stocked with fresh fruit that is ready to eat and yogurt that's in the proper serving portion so you can just grab and go. If you plan your eating correctly you can make the switch to healthy eating and create good habits that will help your baby enjoy good nutrition after birth.

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