Food choices for a healthy pregnancy

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Try not to think of eating for two as eating twice as much food – instead, make it about making your food work twice as hard. You can make every calorie count by choosing nutrient-dense foods and get way more bang for your caloric buck.

An important thing to remember is that what matters is a quality diet over several days, not just meal by meal. If you’re feeling nauseous, don’t have an appetite, or want to enjoy a less-than-nutritious meal once in a while, go for it!

The goal is to have all of your choices add together to create a well-balanced diet. It will take some work, but by selecting foods from every food group, you can get all the nutrients you and baby will need.

How do I make a nutrition plan?

Below is a collection of food group guidelines from USDA My Plate. By following them, you’ll have a great starting point for creating a healthy pregnancy diet. Of course, your beginning weight, height, age, stage of pregnancy and the number of children you are carrying will all affect how much food you will actually need. Each measurements is a daily goal. Remember that if you’re gaining too quickly, you may need to cut back on empty calories, and if you’re gaining too slowly consider adding more servings of the food below.

Your Recommended Daily Intake


  • 1st tri 2 ½ cups
  • 2nd and 3rd tri 3 cups

1 cup of vegetables = 1 cup raw or cooked vegetables, 1 cup of 100% juice, or 2 cups of raw leafy vegetables


  • 1st, 2nd, and 3rd tri 2 cups

1 cup of fruit = 1 cup raw fruit, 1 cup 100% juice, ½ cup dried fruit


  • 1st tri 6 ounces
  • 2nd and 3rd tri 8 ounces

1 ounce of grains = 1 slice of bread, 1 ounce ready-to-eat cereal, ½ cup cooked cereal/pasta/rice


  • 1st, 2nd, and 3rd tri 3 cups

1 cup of dairy = 1 cup of milk, 8 ounces of yogurt, 1 ½ ounces of natural cheese, 2 ounces processed cheese

Protein Foods

  • 1st tri 5 ½ ounces
  • 2nd and 3rd tri 6 ½ ounces

1 ounce of protein = 1 ounce lean meat/poultry/seafood, ¼ cup cooked beans, ½ ounce nuts, 1 cooked egg, 1 tablespoon peanut butter

Fruits and veggies…super choices!

If you’re getting so many vitamins from prenatal vitamins, why does your diet matter? Vegetables, fruits, and grains contain a lot of highly beneficial natural compounds like phytochemicals (detailed in the chart below) and antioxidants (like vitamin A, beta-carotene, and vitamins C and E). You just can’t get these nutrients from a pill. Work more fruits and vegetables into your day by blending them into a juice or smoothie, tossing some into salads, or using them as your go-to snack.

Here’s a handy breakdown of phytochemicals found in common fruits and vegetables.


  • Good for: Immune system support, improved vision, skin health, bone health
  • Can be found in: Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, Carrots, Winter Squash, Cantaloupe, Apricots, Spinach, Collard Greens, Kale, Broccoli
  • Health tip: When you think beta-carotene, think orange and dark, leafy green vegetables


  • Good for: Prostate health, cancer risk reduction, heart health
  • Can be found in: Tomatoes, Pink Grapefruit, Red Peppers, Watermelon, Tomato Products
  • Health tip: Cooked tomato products are great because heating makes lycopene easier for the body to absorb


  • Good for: Eye health, heart health
  • Can be found in: Collard Greens, Kale, Spinach, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Lettuces, Artichokes
  • Health tip: This phytochemical is found in the human eye


  • Good for: Heart health, lung health, and inflammation
  • Can be found in: Peanuts, red grapes
  • Health tip: You can also get resveratrol from red wine, when you’re able to drink again


  • Good for: Blood vessel health
  • Can be found in: Blueberries, Blackberries, Plums, Cranberries, Raspberries, Red Onions, Red Potatoes, Red Radishes, Strawberries
  • Health tip: Think anything red and purple when you’re looking for anthocyanins


  • Good for: Menopause health, preventing breast cancer, bone health, joint inflammation, lowering cholesterol
  • Can be found in: Soybeans
  • Health tip: ½ cup of boiled soybeans offer 47 mg of isoflavones

When you’re making your grocery list, consider:

  • Whole grains such as brown rice, whole-wheat breads and whole-grain pasta
  • Dairy foods such as non-fat milk, low-fat yogurt and cheese, which provide Calcium, Vitamin D and protein
  • Olive oil and canola oil, avocados and fatty fish like salmon (just make sure to cook your fish)
  • Any in-season produce. If it looks delicious, give it a try!

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