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Eating for Two: Nutritional Guidelines in Pregnancy

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When you're pregnant, your eating habits become more important than ever. They affect your health, the way you feel, and, of course, your baby! Your baby's organs need the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats to develop properly, so you should pay special attention to your diet. What is a good diet in pregnancy? First of all, don't diet! This is not the time to starve yourself. Eat a good, nutritious diet, and you'll lose your pregnancy weight gain just fine after your baby is born. If you have a weight problem — if you are either underweight or overweight — then you may need to follow a special nutritional program during your pregnancy. Discuss this with your health care provider. How much weight do women usually gain during pregnancy? The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that 25 to 35 pounds is normal. If you gain much more than that, it will take some time after pregnancy to lose it.

Good Things to Eat

The United States Department of Agriculture has recently revised its dietary guidelines. The new recommendations, which can be found at, feature foods from five main groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy. You can set up an interactive food plan, customized for your stage of pregnancy, or for when you're breastfeeding, by going to


Most pregnant women need about 300 additional calories per day. This translates to two cups of low-fat milk, one cup of ice cream, a bagel with cream cheese, or a tuna fish sandwich.

Food Cravings

No one really knows why some women crave certain foods during pregnancy, but cravings are not thought to be the result of food deficiencies. There is no reason to avoid foods you crave as long as you eat in moderation to avoid a large weight gain. Unfortunately, some pregnant women crave non-food items such as laundry starch or clay and want to eat them. This is a condition called pica. If you crave non-food items, be sure to tell your health care provider.


Pregnant women require about 71 grams of protein per day. A cup of milk or an ounce of red meat contains about 10 grams of protein. Good sources of protein include lean meats, poultry, fish, dried beans, lentils, nuts, eggs, and cheese. Avoid unpasteurized, soft cheeses such as Brie and jalisco. Also, avoid raw or rare meats, as these might contain bacteria that could harm your infant. Finally, avoid fish that are high in mercury, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish.



Member comments

very helpful
it let me know i need more protein.

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