Pregnancy Diet: Eating for Two

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's on the Menu

Turns out that eating for two doesn’t actually mean doubling your food intake. Most pregnant women only need about 300 additional calories per day in their diet, the equivalent of a glass of skim milk and half a sandwich. If you're carrying twins, you'll probably need 600 extra calories a day.

With this in mind, maintain a balanced diet for a healthy pregnancy by choosing foods from the five main food groups:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • grains
  • protein foods
  • dairy

You can set up an interactive food plan, customized for your stage of pregnancy, or for when you're breastfeeding, by going to

Additional Diet and Nutrition Considerations


Pregnant women require a minimum of 60 grams of protein per day, with some experts recommending 71 grams or more. 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
  • cheese

During pregnancy you should avoid :

  • unpasteurized, soft cheeses such as Brie and Jalisco
  • raw or rare meats, as they might contain bacteria that could harm your infant
  • fish that are high in mercury, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish


Calcium is needed during pregnancy for the formation of the baby's bones and teeth. The recommended daily allowance for calcium during pregnancy is 1,000 mg per day (1,300 mg a day if you are younger than 19).

You can get your calcium from:

  • green leafy vegetables
  • orange juice
  • milk
  • yogurt
  • cheese


You need 27 mg a day when you're pregnant. Good sources of iron are:

  • fish
  • poultry
  • whole grain breads and cereals
  • green leafy vegetables
  • legumes
  • dried fruits
  • eggs
  • liver
  • red meat

Many women take iron supplements during their second and third trimesters, but discuss this with your healthcare provider. If you eat a diet rich in iron, supplements may not be necessary.

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. These food cravings are usually particularly strong during the first trimester, but pass with time.

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 healthcare provider.

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