How should my diet change now that I’m Pregnant?

If you are eating a healthy diet before you become pregnant, you may only need to make a few changes to meet the special nutritional needs of pregnancy. According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), a pregnant woman needs only 300 calories a day more than she did pre-pregnancy. The ADA recommends that pregnant women eat a total of 2,500 to 2,700 calories every day. These calories should come from a variety of healthy foods.

But what pregnant women eat is more important than how much. A pregnant woman needs more of many important vitamins, minerals and nutrients than she did pre-pregnancy. To get enough nutrients, pregnant women should take a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin and eat healthy foods from the four basic food groups everyday including:

Fruits and Vegetables — Pregnant women should try to eat 7 or more servings of fruits and vegetables combined (for example: 3 servings of fruit and 4 of vegetables) daily.

Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables with vitamin C help you and your baby to have healthy gums and other tissues. Vitamin C also helps your body to heal wounds and to absorb iron. Examples of fruits and vegetables with vitamin C include strawberries, melons, oranges, papaya, tomatoes, peppers, greens, cabbage, and broccoli. Fruits and vegetables also add fiber and minerals to your diet and give you energy. Plus, dark green vegetables have vitamin A, iron, and folate, which are important nutrients during pregnancy.

One Serving Fruit = 1 medium apple, 1 medium banana, 1/2 cup of chopped fruit, 3/4 cup of fruit juice One Serving Vegetable = 1 cup raw leafy vegetables, 1/2 cup of other vegetables (raw or cooked), 3/4 cup vegetable juice

Whole-grains or Enriched Breads/Cereals — Pregnant women should eat 6 to 9 servings of whole-grain or enriched breads and/or cereals every day.

Whole-grain products and enriched products like bread, rice, pasta, and breakfast cereals contain iron, B vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Some breakfast cereals are enriched with 100% of the folic acid your body needs every day. Folic acid has been shown to help prevent some serious birth defects. Eating breakfast cereals and other enriched grain products that contain folic acid is important before and during pregnancy.

One Serving Cereal/Bread = 1 slice bread, 1/2 cup of cooked cereal, rice, or pasta, 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal

Dairy Products — Pregnant women should try to eat 4 or more servings of low-fat or non-fat milk, yogurt, cheese or other dairy products every day.

Dairy products provide the calcium you and your baby need for strong bones and teeth. Dairy products are also great sources of vitamin A and D, protein, and B vitamins. Vitamin A helps growth, fight infection, and vision. Pregnant women need 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium each day. If you are 18 or younger, you need 1,300 mg of calcium each day.

Try to eat low-fat or non-fat milk and milk products to lower your fat intake. Other sources of calcium include dark green leafy vegetables, dried beans and peas, nuts and seeds, and tofu. If you are lactose intolerant or can’t digest dairy products, you can still get enough calcium. There are several low-lactose or reduced-lactose products available. In some cases, your doctor might recommend a calcium supplement.

One Serving Dairy = 1 cup of milk or yogurt, 1 1/2 oz. natural cheese, 2 oz. processed cheese

Proteins — Pregnant women and their growing babies need 10 grams of protein more than non-pregnant women. Pregnant women should eat 60 grams of protein every day.

Two or more 2-3 ounce servings of cooked lean meat, fish, or poultry without skin, or two or more 1 ounce servings of cooked meat contain about 60 grams of protein. Eggs, nuts, dried beans, and peas also are good sources of protein. But don’t rush out and buy high protein drinks! Women in the United States regularly eat more protein than they need. So you probably won’t have to make an effort to eat the needed 60 grams of protein a day.

Don’t eat uncooked or undercooked meats or fish. These can make you sick and may harm your baby. Pregnant women should also avoid deli luncheon meats.

Protein builds muscle, tissue, enzymes, hormones, and antibodies for you and your baby. Protein-rich foods also have B vitamins and iron important for your blood.

One Serving Protein = 2-3oz. of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish, 1 oz. meat also = 1/2 cup cooked dried beans, 1 egg, 1/2 cup tofu, 1/3 cup nuts, 2 T. peanut butter