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Nutrition Times
November 2021
Healthy Eating During Pregnancy

During pregnancy you are not eating twice as much, only twice as well. What you eat and drink during pregnancy can help your baby’s healthy growth and development. Eating well can also help you feel good, have energy and gain a healthy amount of weight.

Eat a variety of healthy foods each day. Vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods and protein foods all make up a healthy plate. During your second and third trimesters, an extra snack is needed each day. Try a bowl of whole grain cereal and berries, half a peanut butter and banana sandwich, or a small whole wheat pita stuffed with hummus and vegetables. Canada’s Food Guide has more information on healthy food choices and snacks.

Make water your drink of choice. Water helps transport nutrients and wastes, keeps you cool and helps prevent constipation. Flavour your water with mint or fruit for variety. Plain milk or fortified plant-based beverages are also healthy drink options that provide fluids.

Get more fibre.  Fluids and fibre both help prevent and manage constipation. To get more fibre choose whole grains and plenty of vegetables, fruits, and dried beans and lentils. 

Limit caffeine to 300 mg per day. This is about two 8 oz (250 mL) cups of coffee or one travel mug. Green, white, or black teas or herbal teas such as citrus, ginger, orange peel or rosehip are low caffeine or caffeine free options. Avoid other herbal teas and rooibos teas as they are not safe to drink when pregnant.

Focus on iron rich foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, peas, lentils and whole grain foods. Iron needs are much higher during pregnancy. Iron is needed so baby can develop properly and build up a good store of iron for after the birth.

Take a daily prenatal multivitamin with folic acid and 16 - 20 mg of iron. It is recommended to take 0.4 mg of supplemental folic acid daily before becoming pregnant as this B vitamin is especially important in the first month of pregnancy.

Food safety during pregnancy. Your immune system is weakened during pregnancy so you and your baby are at increased risk of food poisoning. It is very important that you be careful about what you eat and how you store, prepare and cook your food.

Avoid (unless cooked or heated to steaming hot):
·   Soft or semi-soft cheeses such as Havarti or Camembert
·   Raw sprouts such as bean or alfalfa
·   Deli meats such as roast beef, turkey breast or ham or hot dogs

For more information on eating safely, see Health Canada's Food Safety for Pregnant Women

Healthy weight gain during pregnancy

You do not need to gain much weight during the fist trimester. Most of your weight gain happens in the second and third trimesters. Most women need to gain 25 -35 lbs (11.5 – 16 kg) during pregnancy. You can use the Weight Gain Calculator from Healthy Parents Healthy Children to track your weight gain and find out more information on their website.

The table below is also from the Healthy Parents Healthy Children website. 

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