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Is the Standard American Diet Safe for Pregnant Women?

Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet, or SAD, isn’t necessarily healthy or safe for pregnant women. A wholesome, natural, plant-based diet God intended for you is one that lowers your risk of disease and unpleasant side effects like pain, fatigue, and depression. Cleaning up your diet before, during, and after pregnancy increases the chance that you and your developing baby will stay healthy.

What Is the Standard American Diet?

The SAD diet contains the following unhealthy foods and ingredients:

  • Red and processed meats
  • Other processed foods
  • Refined grains
  • Fast foods
  • Fried foods
  • Saturated animal fats
  • High-sodium foods
  • Sweets, sugary drinks, and other added sugars
  • Preservatives
  • Hormones
  • Antibiotics

While the standard American diet is usually high in calories, it lacks enough fiber, whole plant foods, and essential vitamins and minerals you and your baby need to function and develop properly.

Why Is the Standard American Diet Unsafe During Pregnancy?

There are numerous reasons the SAD diet isn’t the best choice for you and your baby during pregnancy. It increases your risk of:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Digestive problems
  • Certain cancers
  • Gum disease
  • Osteoporosis

Additionally, the standard American diet puts you and your baby at risk of nutrient deficiencies, poor or excessive growth, and delayed development. It increases the chance of having a miscarriage or stillbirth and can make getting pregnant difficult. Eating a SAD diet also affects the quality and quantity of breastmilk after your baby is born.

Pregnancy Diet Recommendations

healthy food assortment

Before, during, and after pregnancy, it’s important to eat right, get regular exercise, and give up unhealthy habits—such as smoking, drinking, and taking certain medications—to optimize the health and well-being of your developing baby. Consider the following healthy eating habits while pregnant:

Upgrade Your Prenatal Supplement

Skip the department store prenatal vitamin. Instead we recommend BarleyMax in large quantities along with B12 / B6 / Folate, Nascent Iodine and Magnesium Complex. Drink 8 to 16 ounces of fresh vegetable juice every day. This is better health insurance for you and your baby than a prenatal vitamin.

Increase Protein Intake

Eat at least 71 grams of protein daily during pregnancy and while nursing, as recommended by the Institute of Medicine. Nutritious protein foods for pregnant women include legumes, , nuts, seeds, nut butters, leafy greens, and plant milks.

Take an Omega-3 DHA/EPA Supplement

Consume at least 500 milligrams daily, but probably more like 1,000 mg of omega-3s EPA plus DHA, including at least 300 milligrams of DHA daily during pregnancy and while breastfeeding as recommended by the American Pregnancy Association. Take dietary supplements to help meet this recommendation. Consider a high quality fish oil  rich in DHA or a high potency DHA supplement.

Choose a Variety of Plant Foods

Fill half of each plate with fresh fruits and vegetables as recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Choose a variety of raw fruits and vegetables each day. Avoid canned fruits and veggies when possible. Fill half of each plate with fiber-rich whole grains, protein-rich foods, and heart-healthy fats. Choose mainly plant proteins and organic whole grains, such as:

  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice
  • Beans
  • Oatmeal
  • Millet
  • Lentils

Examples of healthy fats are unrefined oils, avocados, olives, nuts, seeds, and nut butters.

Eat Magnesium-Rich Vegetables, Nuts and Legumes

Lack of magnesium is the number one cause of pre-eclampsia and pre-term births. We recommend daily vegetable juice, leafy greens, almonds and legumes to help meet your daily need for magnesium.  Consider taking a high quality bio-available magnesium supplement as well.

Avoid Fish

Mercury is a neurotoxin that can harm you and your developing baby when eaten in excess, and certain types of fish contain large amounts of this and other toxins from our contaminated oceans.

Say No to Red and Processed Meats

Always avoid processed meats, and steer clear of red meat when possible before, during, and after pregnancy. An agency of the World Health Organization classifies processed meat as cancer-causing, and red meat (pork, beef, goat, and lamb) as a food that probably causes certain cancers. Steer clear of bacon, hot dogs, deli meats, ham, sausage, and other highly processed meats.

Avoid Sugary Drinks and Alcohol

Water, plant milks, and fresh vegetable juices are the best drink choices when you’re pregnant. Steer clear of sugary drinks like soda that provide calories but few or no essential nutrients. Avoid alcohol entirely, as it can cause health problems, physical abnormalities, and developmental delays in babies.

Avoid Refined Grains and Sweets

Like sugary drinks, sweets and refined grains—such as white bread and white rice—add calories but lack fiber and other essential nutrients you and your baby require for a healthy pregnancy.

Say No to Animal Fats and Fried Foods

To keep your heart healthy and disease risks low, replace trans fats, fried foods, and saturated animal fats—including butter, full-fat dairy foods, and high-fat meats—with nutritious plant-based alternatives.

Eating for Two

closeup pregnant womans stomach

Eating for two and keeping yourself and your baby healthy involves:

  • Choosing primarily a plant-based diet
  • Steering clear of the standard American diet
  • Taking Hallelujah Diet supplements as needed to prevent deficiencies

If you’re breastfeeding, continue eating a healthy pregnancy diet to maximize the nutritional content of your milk.


  1. carolyn b. calhoun February 14, 2019

    I wish I had known about the HA diet back when I was pregnant. It was mainly about keeping the mother’s appetite satisfied…instead of being about the health of the baby. Sooo mainly wonderful healthy options available to a Mom now. We are so blessed.

  2. Thanks for this great information for a mother to be. I have to remember all of this for when my daughters or my neices have a child. This was good to learn of this lack of magnesium is the number one cause of pre-eclampsia and pre-term births. We recommend daily vegetable juice, leafy greens, almonds and legumes to help meet your daily need for magnesium. I didnt know this. I really learned alot from this. Whish I knew about this whenI had my first child 40 years agon. Thanks again. I will pass along this for sure.

  3. Great advice for someone who is expecting. It’s so important to keep that little baby healthy God blessed you to carry.

  4. Thank you for providing the great tips on how to eat right and help get the proper nutrition for not only an expectant mother, but also for the baby that is wholly dependent on mom to provide the necessary nutrients for them to grow big and strong.

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