Eating During Pregnancy: Provide, Don't Deprive

Here are the goals for feeding yourself during pregnancy, in their order of importance:

  • Nourish yourself and your baby.
  • Lay the foundation for feeding your family.
  • Gain the amount of weight that is right for you, in your own distinct pattern.

To achieve those goals, be nurturing and trusting with yourself. Feed yourself enjoyably and dependably. Provide, don't deprive. Seek food rather than avoid it. In short, use pregnancy as a time to improve your eating competence. Eating competently will allow you to do well nutritionally and gain weight in a way that is right for you.

  • Be positive and reliable about taking care of yourself with food. Emphasize three meals a day and as many snacks as you need to feel comfortable and energetic.
  • Start where you are: Eat what you are eating now, just have it at regular and structured times. Once you have the meal habit, sneak up on menu planning .
  • Choose food you enjoy. For you to maintain the meal habit, your food has to be good!
  • Go to the table hungry but not famished, savor your food, and stop only when your hunger and appetite are satisfied.
  • Trust yourself. Your hunger, appetite, and weight gain will be different from that of other women and will vary month to month and among your first, second and third trimesters.

What it all boils down to is trust your body. Pregnancy in general and eating during pregnancy in particular give you a marvelous opportunity to gain respect for your body and for the miracle of giving birth. Don't spoil it by dieting or by worrying about your weight!

For more information, see Eating for Pregnancy

For more eating competently (and for research backing up this advice), see Ellyn Satter's Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family: How to Eat, How to Raise Good Eaters, How to Cook, Kelcy Press, 2008. Also see to purchase books and to review other resources.

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©2016 by Ellyn Satter published at You may reproduce this article if you don't charge for it or change it in any way and if you do include the for more about and copyright statements.