Eating while Pregnant: A Brief Guide + 3 Days of Meal Plans!

Eating while Pregnant: A Brief Guide + 3 Days of Meal Plans!

Pregnancy is such an exciting time! Of course, it can be a bit overwhelming with all of the uncertainty and questions too. What should you include on your registry? How much activity should you be doing?? What and how much should you be eating while you’re pregnant?!

To help relieve some stress with the last question above, I’m sharing this brief guide on what foods are encouraged (and discouraged!) while pregnant, including how much and when. I have also included a full day’s meal plan for each trimester at the end of this post to give you a better idea of what a day of eating can look like for you!

Eating & Drinking – Dos and Don’ts

Do: Eat your normal amount in your first trimester, and then increase how much you eat in your second and third trimesters – about an extra snack of 2-3 food guide servings per day

Don’t: Overdo it! About 350 calories more in your second trimester and 450 calories more in your third trimester will do.

Do: Eat every 2-4 hours while you’re awake. This not only helps with nausea, it also helps provide you and your baby all of the nutrients you both need!

Don’t: Skip meals! Your body and baby will appreciate consistency.

Do: Allow caffeine if needed

Don’t: Exceed 300mg per day! Ensure you check labels to see how much caffeine is in a product. The less, the better.

Don’t: Drink alcohol or smoke while pregnant!

Do: See your health care team to help with strategies if it is difficult for you to not drink alcohol or smoke while you are pregnant

Do: Drink up to 750mL (3 cups) of Orange peel, Ginger, Peppermint leaf, or Rose hip herbal teas a day if desired

Don’t: Eat/drink any other herbs or herbal teas unless given approval by your health care provider

Do: Use alternative sweeteners in small amounts if needed

Don’t: Use cyclamate (Sweet’n Low® and Sugar Twin®). It’s generally unsafe for consumption and absolutely should not be consumed if pregnant!

Do: Take in 2.5L (10 cups) of fluid throughout the day in the forms of drinks, soups, and in vegetables and fruits. This amount will be more if you’re physically active and/or in hot weather.

Don’t: Rely on fruit juice. Instead, favour water and milk during meals.

Do: Consult your health care team if you have any questions regarding nutrition for your pregnancy!

Don’t: Use this post as a conclusive guide to nutrition for your pregnancy! This is a generic guide, and you should consult your health care team for your individual needs.

Food – Recommended Servings per dayExamples of Servings, and Tips

Vegetables and Fruit

Ages 14-18: 7 Servings per day

Ages 19-50: 7-8 Servings per day

Examples of a serving:

  • ½ cup Fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables or fruit
  • 1 cup leafy raw vegetables
  • 1 cup 100% juice

Tips:

  • Keep the skin on vegetables and fruits to encourage more fibre intake
  • Eat at least 1 dark green and 1 orange vegetable a day to maximize your nutrient intake
  • Choose vegetables and fruits with little or no added fat, sugar, or salt
  • No more than 1 cup of 100% juice a day
  • Avoid unwashed vegetables and fruits, sprouts such as alfalfa, radish, and mung bean, and unpasteurized juices and ciders – these foods may be contaminated with E. coli, Salmonella, or Toxoplasma (even after cooked)

Grain Products

Ages 14-18: 6 Servings per day

Ages 19-50: 6-9 Servings per day

Examples of a serving:

  • 1 slice of bread
  • ½ cup cooked rice or pasta
  • 6x6x2cm piece bannock
  • ½ small tortilla or pita
  • ¾ cup hot cereal

Tips:

  • Choose whole grains at least half of the time
  • Choose grains that are lower in fat, sugar, and/or salt

Milk and Alternatives

Ages 14-18: 3-4 Servings per day

Ages 19-50: 2 Servings per day

Examples of a serving:

  • 1 cup milk or fortified soy beverage
  • 50g cheese
  • ¾ cup yogurt or kefir

Tips:

  • Choose skim, 1%, or 2% milk, or fortified soy beverage
  • Choose lower fat milk alternatives
  • Drink milk at meals
  • Avoid unpasteurized and pasteurized soft, semi-soft, or blue-veined cheeses such as Havarti, Brie, Camembert, and Queso Fresco/Blanco – these cheeses may be contaminated with Campylobacter and Listeria

Meat and Alternatives

Ages 14-18: 2 Servings per day Ages 19-50: 2 Servings per day Examples of a serving: 75g or ½ cup cooked fish, poultry, lean meat, or wild meat2 eggs¾ cup cooked legumes or lentils¾ cup tofu30mL or 2 Tbsp nut butter¼ cup shelled nuts and seeds

Tips:

  • Favour meat alternatives in your daily eating
  • Eat at least 2 servings of cooked fish each week
  • Choose lean meat and alternatives prepared with little to no added fat or salt
  • Avoid raw or undercooked meat and fish as they may cause many types of food-borne illnesses
  • Avoid fresh or frozen tuna, canned Albacore tuna, shark, swordfish, escolar, marlin, orange roughy, and some lake-caught fish as they may be high in mercury
  • Avoid pre-packaged cold cuts, deli meats, and hot dogs as they may be contaminated with Listeria (Dried and salted deli meats like salami and pepperoni are OK! So are deli sandwiches and hot dogs if heated to 74C or hotter!)
  • Avoid cold, refrigerated meat spreads such as Pates, Liverwurst, Smoked fish, Imitation fish, and Shellfish spreads – such refrigerated meat spreads may be contaminated with Listeria (Those sold in cans unrefrigerated are OK! So are refrigerated spreads if heated to 74C or higher)
  • Avoid raw or under-cooked eggs, including foods like some salad dressings, cookie dough, homemade eggnog, and ungraded eggs – these may be contaminated with Salmonella

Important Nutrients during Pregnancy

Folate (Folic Acid)

  • Folate is naturally occurring, while folic acid is the synthetic form
  • Folate helps prevent serious birth defects in the baby’s brain, skull, and spine
  • It’s hard to get the amount of folic acid/folate that women need from food alone
  • You can take multivitamins with folic acid in it – 0.4mg required

Foods high in Folate include:

  • Fortified grains such as ready-to-eat cereals, breads, and pastas
  • Whole grains
  • Dark green vegetables such as peas, spinach, brussels sprouts, and broccoli
  • Beans and lentils
  • Citrus fruits like oranges

Vitamin D

  • Helps keep your bones strong
  • Helps your baby build strong bones
  • Your baby stores Vitamin D for use during their first few months after birth
  • You should drink 2 cups (500mL) of milk or fortified soy beverage each day
  • You should eat at least 2 servings of cooked fish per week

Foods high in Vitamin D include:

  • Cow’s milk
  • Fortified soy beverages
  • Cooked fish such as Salmon, Rainbow trout, Atlantic mackerel, and Sardines
  • Vitamin D-fortified orange juice

Vitamin A

  • Helps maintain normal vision, fights infections, and supports the immune system
  • Important for your baby’s development of the heart, lungs, kidneys, eyes, and bones
  • Too much Vitamin A can cause birth defect – usually the Vitamin A you get from food and multivitamin is enough. You should not need to take any Vitamin A supplements unless directed so by your health care team.

Foods high in Vitamin A include:

  • Sweet potato
  • Spinach
  • Carrots

Calcium

  • Helps keep your bones strong and nerves and muscles working properly
  • Helpers your baby build strong bones and teeth
  • You should drink 2 cups (500mL) of milk or fortified soy beverage each day

Foods high in Calcium include:

  • Cow’s milk
  • Beverages labelled “calcium fortified” such as soy or rice beverages
  •  Yogurt
  • Also good: Cheese, canned salmon or sardines with bones, tofu made with calcium

Iron

  • More iron is needed in a pregnant body as an extra 2kg/4lb of blood is needed during pregnancy
  • On average, a multivitamin with 16-20mg of iron/day may suffice, but some people may require more (consult your health care team!)
  • Eating foods with iron at the same time as foods with Vitamin C will help your body absorb more iron
  • Iron supplements can make you constipated. Ensure you drink plenty of fluids and eat more fibre to help prevent constipation!
  • Low iron (anemia) is linked to low weight gain and preterm, low birth weight babies. A common sign is low energy. Consult your health care team if you suspect you may be anemic.
  • The body absorbs iron best from meat, poultry, fish, and shellfish, though you can get iron from legumes, tofu, whole grains, and fortified grains

Foods high in Iron include:

  • Favoured: Beef, pork, wild game, chicken, lamb, fish, shrimp, oysters, and mussels
  • Also good: Lentil, beans, chickpeas, tofu, whole grains, fortified cereals and bread

Omega-3 Fats

  • Helps your baby’s eyes and brain develop properly
  • You should eat at least 2 servings of cooked fish each week

Foods high in Omega-3 Fats include:

  • Fish and shellfish: Anchovy, Atlantic Mackerel, Capelin, Clams, Hake, Herring, Mussels, Oysters, Pollock (Boston Bluefish), Rainbow Trout, Salmon, Shrimp, and Smelt
  • Also good: Vegetable oils like canola, Eggs enriched with Omega-3, Various nuts such as Walnuts, Soy nuts, Almonds, Hemp hearts, and Chia seeds

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