Choosing the Proper Pregnancy Diet

Pregnancy Food Pyramid
Grains, fruits and vegetables should be the largest component of your diet.
Grains, fruits and vegetables should be the largest component of your diet.
© Schweitzer

Fats and Sweets in Your Pregnancy Diet

The tip of the pyramid includes fats, oils, and sweets. Foods containing these yummy but less nutritional substances include candy, many desserts, butter, mayonnaise, and salad dressings. You can look for low-fat varieties of these foods in the supermarket, but remember that even though they may be lower in fat, they often still contain lots of calories.

Sources of Protein in Your Pregnancy Diet

The second level of the pyramid contains food rich in protein and calcium: meat, chicken, fish, nuts, beans, eggs, and milk products such as cheese, yogurt, and, of course, milk. You want to eat 2 to 4 servings of protein, and 3 or 4 servings of dairy a day. A single serving of chicken, turkey, lean meat, or fish is about 2 to 3 ounces. Two tablespoons of peanut butter or one egg is equal to 1 ounce of meat.

Fruits and Vegetables in Your Pregnancy Diet

The next-to-the-bottom level on the food pyramid is the fruit and vegetable group. You need to eat about 3 or 4 servings of each of these. Fruits and vegetables are not only a good source of vitamins and minerals, they also provide fiber, which is very important during pregnancy to help reduce constipation. Vegetables are high in vitamins A, C, and folate, as well as iron. Fruits, too, contain healthy amounts of vitamins A and C, as well as potassium.

The bottom tier on the pyramid is the broadest and largest, comprising such foods as bread, cereal, pasta, rice, and other grains. This group is important because it provides complex carbohydrates, which are long-lasting energy sources. In addition, grains are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. On average, you need to try to eat about 8 to 10 servings from this group each day. While this may seem like quite a lot of food, satisfying this requirement is easier than you think. One slice of bread, a few crackers, or half a cup of pasta each make up only a single serving. If you are like most of us, when you sit down to order some pasta primavera or shrimp marinara, you usually eat more than 1/2 cup.

Also be sure to drink plenty of water, milk or juice — about 6 to 8 glasses a day. As your pregnancy progresses, your body needs a lot of extra fluid. Early on, some women who don't drink enough liquid feel weak or faint. Later in pregnancy, dehydration can lead to premature contractions.

Excerpted from Pregnancy For Dummies™, published by John Wiley & Sons.

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