Can a pregnant woman skip dinner?

Eating properly is crucial during pregnancy to support the growth and development of the baby as well as the health of the mother. There are increased calorie and nutrient needs during pregnancy, so skipping meals is generally not recommended. However, occasionally skipping dinner may happen during pregnancy. This article explores whether it’s ok for pregnant women to skip dinner and the potential effects.

Is It Ok For Pregnant Women to Skip Dinner?

Ideally, pregnant women should not make a habit of skipping meals, especially dinner. Dinner often makes up a significant portion of daily calorie and nutrient intake. Skipping dinner could result in inadequate intake of key nutrients needed for fetal development like protein, vitamins, and minerals.

However, occasionally skipping dinner during pregnancy due to lack of hunger, nausea, heartburn, fatigue, or other issues is unlikely to cause major problems. The key is that it does not become a regular habit and that calories and nutrients are sufficiently consumed throughout the rest of the day.

Potential Effects of Skipping Dinner During Pregnancy

Maternal Effects

For the mother, consistently skipping dinner could result in:

  • Inadequate weight gain
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Increased nausea or heartburn from having an empty stomach
  • Low blood sugar
  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue and low energy

When dinner is skipped, it’s important that the pregnant woman compensates with nutrient-dense foods and fluids throughout the rest of the day. This helps prevent malnutrition and dehydration.

Effects on Baby

For the developing baby, negative effects of the mother regularly skipping dinner may include:

  • Poor fetal growth
  • Low birth weight
  • Birth defects
  • Developmental delays

This is because skipping meals can result in decreased blood volume and oxygen/nutrient flow to the fetus. The baby relies completely on the mother for nourishment so consistent inadequate nutrition has direct effects on development.

Tips If Skipping Dinner

While eating dinner is ideal, some pregnant women will inevitably skip the meal occasionally. Here are some tips to reduce potential effects if dinner is skipped:

  • Eat a substantial, nutrient-dense breakfast and lunch
  • Snack healthily during the evening – yogurt, fruit, nuts, veggies
  • Drink plenty of fluids like water, milk, or juice
  • Take a prenatal vitamin to help meet nutrient needs
  • Eat a larger breakfast the next morning
  • Do not make a habit of skipping dinner

Focusing on getting sufficient calories and key nutrients like protein, iron, folate, and calcium at other times of the day can help compensate for a missed dinner meal.

When to Consult Your Doctor

Occasionally skipping dinner during pregnancy is unlikely to be a major concern. However, you should consult your doctor or midwife if:

  • You are skipping dinner frequently
  • You have significant nausea, vomiting, or appetite loss
  • You are experiencing worrying symptoms like dehydration, fatigue, or lightheadedness
  • You are not gaining enough weight during pregnancy

Your healthcare provider can provide tailored nutritional advice and interventions if needed. They may recommend foods, fluids or medications to help manage nausea and vomiting or advise dietary changes to help improve weight gain and nutritional status.

Foods to Eat If Skipping Dinner

If you do need to skip dinner during pregnancy, be sure to eat a balanced diet throughout the rest of the day. Here are some nutritious foods to focus on:

Protein-Rich Foods

Pregnant women have increased protein needs. Getting adequate protein is vital for fetal growth and development. Good protein sources include:

  • Eggs
  • Lean meats like chicken, turkey, beef
  • Fish like salmon, tuna, cod
  • Tofu
  • Beans, lentils, chickpeas
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and veggies provide valuable vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Aim for a variety of different colors and types. Great options include:

  • Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit
  • Berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries
  • Bananas
  • Melons – cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon
  • Leafy greens – spinach, kale, lettuces
  • Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage
  • Carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes
  • Winter squash, sweet potatoes

Whole Grains

Whole grains provide important nutrients like fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium and selenium. Try to make at least half your grain choices whole grain. Good options include:

  • Oatmeal
  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Whole grain bread

Dairy Products

Dairy products provide protein, calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, and B vitamins. Calcium and vitamin D are especially vital for fetal bone development. Get your fill from:

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese

If you cannot tolerate dairy, look for fortified non-dairy milks and calcium/vitamin D supplements.

Healthy Fats

Healthy fats support fetal brain development and help absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Incorporate foods like:

  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Nut butters
  • Avocados
  • Salmon


Beans, lentils, and peas are packed with folate, fiber, protein, iron, zinc, and other nutrients. Easy ways to add more include:

  • Snacking on chickpeas, edamame
  • Adding beans to salads or tacos
  • Enjoying lentil soup
  • Spreading hummus on whole grain toast

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are loaded with healthy fats, plant protein, fiber, magnesium, selenium, and other key nutrients. Enjoy unsalted varieties in moderation, such as:

  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Cashews
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds

Sample Meal Plan Without Dinner

Here is an example one-day meal plan for a pregnant woman that meets calorie and nutrient needs without dinner:

Meal Foods
  • Oatmeal made with milk, topped with sliced banana and almonds
  • Scrambled egg
  • Orange juice
AM Snack
  • Greek yogurt with berries
  • Low-fat string cheese stick
  • Tuna salad sandwich on whole grain bread with lettuce and tomato
  • Baby carrots and cucumber slices
  • Apple
PM Snack
  • Hummus with whole grain pita and veggie sticks
  • Sliced pear

This provides a balanced distribution of calories and nutrients from protein, fruits/veggies, whole grains, dairy, and healthy fats to support the mother and growing baby.

Healthy Dinner Ideas for Pregnant Women

When possible, aim to eat a nutritious dinner during pregnancy. Here are some quick, balanced dinner ideas:

  • Bean and veggie tacos: Tacos with black beans, roasted veggies like zucchini and peppers, salsa, avocado, cheese, Greek yogurt
  • Pasta primavera: Whole grain pasta with sauteed veggies like broccoli, carrots, spinach and parmesan cheese
  • Sheet pan salmon: Salmon fillet roasted with potatoes and Brussels sprouts
  • Quinoa bowls: Quinoa, sauteed kale, roasted chickpeas, avocado, hard boiled egg
  • Veggie pizza: Store-bought whole wheat pizza crust with tomato sauce, mushrooms, peppers, spinach, onion, cheese
  • Buddha bowls: Brown rice, roasted sweet potato, edamame, tofu, cabbage, avocado, sesame dressing

These balanced meals provide protein, healthy carbs, veggies, and healthy fats to optimize nutrition for mom and baby.


While eating dinner is recommended, occasionally skipping the meal during pregnancy should not cause major issues, provided calorie and nutrient needs are met throughout the rest of the day. Snacking on nutritious foods like protein, fruits/veggies, whole grains, and healthy fats can help compensate when dinner is skipped. Check with your healthcare provider if you are frequently missing dinner or experiencing concerning symptoms. Overall, pregnant women should aim to eat a balanced diet with regular meals and snacks to support a healthy pregnancy.

Leave a Comment