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Deciding What to Eat When You Are Pregnant

Eating healthfully during pregnancy is important to you and your baby. MyPlate can help you choose the foods you need. The plate has 5 food groups – each food group provides different nutrients that are important to your growing baby. In the first 3 months of your pregnancy, eating foods from each of the food groups helps you get all the nutrients you and your baby need. In the 4th to 9th month, the baby is growing faster. You still need a variety of food and about 340-450 extra calories each day. The extra calories should come from slightly more food from the food groups. Use the following chart to help you choose a variety of enough healthful foods to eat daily.

 

Food Group 1st Trimester 2nd & 3rd Trimester What Counts as 1 cup or  1 oz
Grains
Try to choose whole
grains instead of cereal refined grains
6 ounces 8 to 9 ounces 1 slice bread
1 oz ready-to-eat cereal
½ cup cooked
pasta, rice or cereal
Vegetables
Eat more dark, green, red, and orange vegetables and cooked dry beans. To add more fiber, eat beans and peas more often
2½ cups 2½ cups 1 cup raw or cooked vegetables or juice
2 cups raw leaf vegetables
Fruits
Eat a variety of fruit each week
2 cups 3 to 3½ cups 1 cup fruit or juice
½ cup dried fruit
Milk, Cheese & Yogurt
Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy foods
3 cups 3 cups 1 cup milk
8 oz yogurt
1 ½ oz cheese
Meat, Beans & Nuts
The best choices are seafood (salmon, trout & herring), beans and peas, nuts, lean meats, poultry, and eggs
5½ ounces 6½ ounces 1 oz lean meat, poultry, or fish
¼ cup cooked dry beans
½ oz nuts or 1 egg
tbsp peanut butter
1 oz of nuts

 

Ideas for Eating Healthier Meals

  • Fill about half of your plate with colorful vegetables. Fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables are all healthy. When eating canned, choose those with reduced or no sodium. Foods such as collards, turnips, kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, beans, peas, lentils, and enriched grains like cereal all have folic acid. Folate/folic acid is needed during pregnancy to protect your baby from birth defects.
  • At meals, choose fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk instead of sugar sweetened beverages like soda. Try drinking water between meals.
  • For snacks, salads, and desserts, think about fruit. It can be fresh, frozen, or canned. Select 100% fruit juice.
  • Choline is an important nutrient for the baby’s brain development. Choline is found in foods such as eggs, meats, seafood, and beans.
  • Use small amounts of healthy fat that come from plants instead of animals. Nuts have healthy fats. Add walnuts or almonds to your cereals or eat them for a snack. Use salad dressings made from olive oil and choose healthy fish like salmon 1-2 times a week.
  • Substitute whole-grains for refined grains at meals and snacks. When shopping, look for whole-grain foods such as oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, brown rice and whole-grain crackers.
  • Remember, all the nutrients you and the baby need should come from food first. To get enough folic acid, iron, and calcium, your doctor will recommend a prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement in addition to eating a healthy diet.

 

References

  1. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Eating Right During Pregnancy. April 2021. Available at
    https://www.eatright.org/health/pregnancy/what-to-eat-when-expecting/eating-right-during-pregnancy.Accessed June 2021.
  2. US Department of Agriculture. Nutritional Needs During Pregnancy. April 2018. Available at Pregnancy | MyPlate. Accessed June 2021.
  3. United States Department of Agriculture. (2020, December). Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/. Accessed June 2021
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