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Healthy Pregnancy Diet & Nutrition


Expecting a child gives new meaning to eating a well-balanced diet. Eating a healthy diet during pregnancy will help your baby to get a healthy start and it's also the perfect excuse for you to make some healthy lifestyle changes. The key to good nutrition is variety. Use Canada's Food Guide every day to help you choose a variety of foods from each food group. It's easy to make healthy choices for you and the baby growing inside of you!

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

Focus on fruits and veggies (7 – 8 servings daily)

Try to eat 2 servings per meal. Choose fresh, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables. Did you know dark green, orange or red fruits and vegetables usually contain the most vitamins? Spinach, broccoli, red pepper, sweet potatoes and oranges are all excellent choices to help boost your intake of important vitamins and minerals like folic acid.

  • Eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day.
  • Choose vegetables and fruit prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt.
  • Have vegetables and fruit more often.

Go for the grains (6 – 7 servings daily)

Again, aim for 2 servings at every meal. Eat a high-fibre cereal for breakfast, whole-grain bread for your lunchtime sandwich and brown rice or whole-grain pasta at dinner. Did you know you should aim to eat 28 grams of fibre each day during your pregnancy?  Whole grains along with vegetables, beans and lentils will help you to reach your daily goal.

  • Make at least half of your grain products whole grain each day.
  • Choose grain products that are low in fat, sugar or salt.

Learn more about the importance of fibre.

Maximize milk (2 servings daily)

Get your required 1000 mg of calcium a day with fat-free or reduced-fat milk, low-fat yogurt and low-fat cheese. Did you know milk contains approximately 8 grams of protein per cup? When shopping for dairy alternatives, choose varieties marked “fortified” and those with a comparable amount of protein per cup.

  • Drink skim, 1% or 2% milk each day.
  • Select lower fat milk alternatives.
  • Soy beverages low in sugar are a healthy alternative to milk.

Pump up the protein (2 servings daily)

Protein is an important building block of your baby's tissues and organs. It works for you too. Along with your daily needs, protein at every meal helps ward off feelings of fatigue and hunger throughout the day. Get your required 71 daily grams of protein from prime protein sources which include: fish, poultry, meat, eggs, dairy products, legumes (dried peas, beans, lentils, etc.), nuts and seeds. Some fish should be avoided, learn more about foods to avoid when you're expecting.

  • Have meat alternatives such as beans, lentils and tofu often.
  • Eat at least 2 Food Guide servings of fish per week.
  • Choose lean meat and alternatives prepared with little or no added fat or salt.

Oils and Fats

Oils and fats supply calories and essential fats, and help our bodies to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. A certain amount of fat is essential for our bodies to function and maintain fat stores that control our body temperature. The type of fat you eat is just as important as how much you eat. A diet low in saturated and trans fat can lower your risk for cardiovascular disease. Alternatively, did you know that having some unsaturated fat in your diet is a good thing? Unsaturated fats such as omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats such as those found in fish, nuts, seeds and olive oil may have cardiovascular health benefits. Including a small amount of unsaturated fat as part of a healthy eating pattern will help you ensure you are getting enough essential fats.

  • Include a small amount (30-45 mL or 2-3 tablespoons) of unsaturated fat each day.
  • Replace or reduce saturated fats with unsaturated fats.

Support with Supplements

Eating a balanced and varied diet will provide you with most of the essential vitamins and minerals you need during your pregnancy. But you may have a hard time getting some key nutrients food alone. That's why Canadian health experts recommend that all women who are pregnant or who are trying to get pregnant take a daily multivitamin that contains at least 0.4 mg of folic acid1.

Learn more about the importance of these nutrients and others during pregnancy.

Eating twice as healthy, not eating twice as much

The choices you make now are not just for yourself but also for the baby growing inside of you. You may have heard the saying “now you're eating for two”, it's true, but it doesn't mean you can or should eat twice as much. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need more calories. Include an extra 2 to 3 Food Guide servings each day during the 2nd and 3rd trimester and during the first 6 months after birth and beyond, or for however long you breastfeed.

What an extra 2-3 Food Guide servings looks like

2 servings

  • Dried fruits: 60 ml (¼ cup) + shelled nuts and seeds: 60 ml (¼ cup)
  • Bread: 1 slice (35 g) + 2 eggs
  • Cheese (hard or sliced): 50 g (2 slices) + crackers (plain): 7-11 (30 g)
  • Cooked cereal: 175 ml (¾ cup) + fresh or frozen berries: 125 ml (½ cup)

3 servings

  • Any whole fresh fruit or vegetable: 1 medium + breakfast cereals: (30 g) + 2%, 1% or skim milk: 250 ml (1 cup)
  • Bagel, pita, tortilla: ½ + Peanut or nut butter: 30 ml (2 tbsp) + cottage cheese: 250 ml (1 cup)
  • Leafy vegetables: 125 ml (½ cup) - cooked, 250 ml (1 cup)– raw + tofu: 150g or 175 ml (¾ cup) + cooked rice, pasta or grains: 125 ml (½ cup)


Why healthy eating is so important

Benefits to you Benefits to baby
Helps achieve a healthy weight gain Reduces the risk of certain birth defects
Provides needed energy Helps ensure a healthy birth weight
Speeds up recovery after delivery Provides protein for rapid tissue growth
Helps prevent common pregnancy problems, such as heartburn, constipation and fatigue  

Download a copy of Canada's Food Guide


Visit EATracker

Keep track of your daily food consumption and activity levels. EATracker shows you how you're doing compared to current Health Canada recommendations.

EATracker is a tool produced by Dietitians of Canada, through an unrestricted educational grant from Nestlé Canada Inc.



1 Wilson RD et al. Pre-conception Folic Acid and Multivitamin Supplementation for the Primary and Secondary Prevention of Neural Tube Defects and Other Folic Acid-Sensitive Congenital Anomalies. SOGC Clinical Practice Guideline, No. 324. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2015;29(12):1003-1013.

Read more

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