Food by the Trimester: 1st Tri

Posted on May 18th, 2018

Congrats – you are expecting! Here is a quick run-down of some the things I found helpful during my first trimester and the dietary recommendations for expecting moms.


  • At this point your baby is so small you don’t actually need any extra calories.
  • As a dietitian and expectant mom I tried my best to listen to the cues from my body instead of counting calories. I have a strong feeling that I did end up eating more calories than normal for me but that is okay. My body told me I was hungry so I ate and my weight progressed on track with my doctor’s recommendations.
  • You should gain about 1 – 4 1/2 lbs. in the first trimester (if you started at a normal weight).


  • While I got out lucky without much morning sickness, I did find that if I ate regularly that would help keep nausea at bay. And while I craved a lot of starchy foods like most other moms-to-be I did make sure I had protein at every meal and snack and found that the protein REALLY helped with nausea and hunger. Some of my favorite protein snacks were cottage cheese, greek yogurt, cheese, and hummus.
  • Sometimes when you are really struggling with sickness just get down whatever you can – a lot of us feel guilty wanting to feed our babies only the healthiest foods but I promise just getting something down and keeping it down is also important along with that prenatal vitamin with at least 400 mcg of folate. If you are like me you will still feel guilty when all you eat is mac ‘n cheese and mashed potatoes so I tried to mask some veggies into meals like mushrooms blended into hamburger or broccoli in a casserole. I also found for me that canned vegetables were a much more tolerable option for me because I could prepare them to a very soft texture and without any added flavors that I might usually add to fresh produce.
  • Stay away from those food offenders that real set off nausea. For me that was salad and eggs (we called them the S and E words because even their names made me nauseous). Your options will start to expand the further along you are in your pregnancy (usually 2nd trimester) and you may find you like those foods again.
  • You may try out ginger foods to see if they can help settle your tummy between meals and snacks.


  • Hydration is always important, pregnant or not. But now it is really important to help deliver nutrients to baby, meet the demand of your increasing blood volume, and to prevent overheating. Most pregnant women need at least 10 cups a day if not more, so drink up!
  • Drinking a lot of water can sometimes get a little boring so try adding some fresh fruit to your glass, sip on a sparking water (like La Croix), or even mix up a mocktail for yourself. My favorite was a plain sparkling water with a splash of 100% cranberry juice topped with crushed ice and fresh mint.
  • I have always enjoyed room temperature water (weird, I know) but in my first trimester I couldn’t put enough ice in my water and found myself even sucking on ice. [disclaimer ice chewing can sometimes be a sign of iron deficiency so please check with your doctor] The ice felt very refreshing and hydrating to me, plus it helped with my nausea.


  • To be honest I didn’t struggle with morning sickness like most ladies but fell victim of the EXTREME exhaustion. I’m talking I could fall asleep while standing and having a conversation with someone kind of tired. Before being pregnant I cooked almost every meal at home but that went out the window when the exhaustion hit me. Luckily, my sweet husband helped prepare several meals for us. This is a GREAT time to utilize Reasor’s online shopping where you can just pick up your groceries curbside or even have them delivered with Shipt!
  • I found it helpful to stock up on some quick and easy meal options or components for the days I didn’t feel like cooking. Whole wheat pasta, quick cook rice, and even some frozen entrees. Plus, my taste felt like it was changing daily so one day I may love a food and then the next day despise it. We opted to just keep a wide variety of foods available at home so I could just find a quick option on a whim.


  • Can I please bust the myth that pregnant women cannot exercise!? Of course, if your doctor has advised you against exercise by all means listen to them! But for most healthy women who are experiencing a healthy pregnancy exercise doesn’t have to be out of the equation. In fact, research is starting to correlate exercise during pregnancy with a shorter and easier labor (WAHOO!!!)
  • The key is listening to your new body. You may not have the energy to exercise and that is okay. I don’t think I did anything but sleep, go to work, and then sleep some more in my first trimester and that is what my body needed. You may also find you are just not able to do some of the things you use to be able to do or maybe for as long. Low intensity movements are great options while pregnant like walking, prenatal yoga, and indoor biking. Make sure to take plenty of breaks to recover that heart rate, drink some water, and not overheat.
  • Avoid exercises/activities like horseback riding, skateboarding, and likely even outdoor cycling where you have an increased risk of falling. At this point in your pregnancy you can still enjoy exercises on your back but that will change pretty quickly!

About the Blogger:

Heather Steele, RD/LD is a Registered Dietitian and loves to garden, cook, and is expecting her first child. Heather offices out of the Reasor’s off 71st & Lynn Lane and is on staff at Reasor’s for all of your food & nutrition needs.
Information included does not constitute medical advice and should only be used as a general recommendation for a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle. Reasor’s Registered Dietitian opinions and recommendations are her own; she is not paid to endorse any products or services.