Food choices for a healthy pregnancy

  • Make every calorie count with wholesome, nutrient-dense choices from all food groups.
  • What you eat over several days matters, not meal by meal.
  • Schedule time to talk about your personal nutrition plan with a Gerber registered dietitian. (Yes, it’s complimentary!)
  • A variety of fruits and vegetables provide important nutrients to the diet.

Eating for two doesn’t mean eating twice as much food, but it should mean making your food work twice as hard. Make every calorie count by choosing nutrient-dense foods, in other words get more bang for your calorie buck. By choosing a variety of food from all food groups, you can be assured of a well-balanced diet. But what if you have no appetite some days or occasionally feel nauseous? Remember, a quality diet over several days is what counts, not meal by meal.

What’s the right plan for me?
These food group guidelines, from USDA My Plate, are an easy way to get started on a healthy pregnancy diet. Of course, your beginning weight, height, age, stage of pregnancy and the number of children you are carrying will determine how many calories and how much food you will need.

Daily Meal Plan

The plan shows slightly more amounts of food during the second and third trimesters because you have changing nutritional needs. This is a general Plan. You may need more or less than the Plan.*

Food Group 1st Trimester 2nd and 3rd Trimesters What counts as 1 cup or 1 ounce?
Eat this amount from each group daily.*
Vegetables 2 1/2 cups 3 cups 1 cup raw or cooked vegetables or 100% juice
2 cups raw leafy vegetables.
Fruits 2 cups 2 cups 1 cup fruit or 100% juice
1/2 cup dried fruit.
Grains 6 ounces 8 ounces 1 slice bread
1 ounce ready-to-eat cereal
1/2 cup cooked pasta, rice, or cereal.
Dairy 3 cups 3 cups 1 cup milk
8 ounces yogurt
1 1/2 ounces natural cheese
2 ounces processed cheese.
Protein Foods 5 1/2 ounces 6 1/2 ounces 1 ounce lean meat, poultry, or seafood
1/4 cup cooked beans
1/2 ounce nuts or 1 egg
1 tablespoon peanut butter.
*If you are not gaining weight or gaining too slowly, you may need to eat a little more from each food group. If you are gaining weight too fast, you may need to cut back by decreasing the amount of "empty calories" you are eating.

Get a Daily Plan for Moms designed just for you.
Go to for your Plan and more.
Click on "Pregnant & Breastfeeding Women."

We’re here to help

To discuss your personal nutrition needs with a Gerber Registered Dietitian, contact us for an appointment.

Fruits and veggies…super choices!

Naturally occurring beneficial compounds, called phytochemicals, are in fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. Some of these foods also provide antioxidants, such as Vitamin A from Beta-Carotene and Vitamins C and E. Working more vegetables and fruits into your day can include blending them into a juice or smoothie, tossing some into salads and using as your go-to snack.

Here’s a handy chart of phytochemicals in common fruits and vegetables.

Phytochemical Proposed Benefits Food Sources Good Things to Know
Beta-Carotene Immune System
Skin Health
Bone Health
Sweet Potato
Winter Squash
Collard Greens
Think orange and dark, leafy green veggies
Lycopene Cancer (Prostate)
Heart Health
Pink Grapefruit
Red Peppers
Tomato Products
Cooked tomato products are great because heating makes lycopene easier for the body to absorb
Lutein Eye Health
Heart Health
Collard Greens
Brussels Sprouts
This phytochemical is found in the eye
Resveratrol Heart Health
Lung Health
Red Wine
1 cup of red grapes would be a serving; no red wine!
Anthocyanidins Blood Vessel Health Blueberries
Red Onions
Red Potatoes
Red Radishes
Think anything red and purple
Isoflavones Menopause
Cancer (Breast)
Bone Health
Joint Inflammation
Lower Cholesterol
Soybeans ½ cup of boiled soybeans
offer 47 mg of isoflavones
Reprinted with permission from the Produce for Better Health Foundation.

Add to your grocery list:
  • Whole grains such as brown rice, whole-wheat breads and whole-grain pasta
  • Dairy foods such as non-fat milk, low-fat yogurt and cheese provide Calcium, Vitamin D and protein
  • Olive oil and canola oil, avocados and fatty fish, such as salmon, can be healthy additions to your diet


Fat, in moderation, can be good for you. Nuts, seeds, avocado and salmon have omega-3 fatty acids.

How was the information in this article?
Foods on the Caution List

Track your pregnancy weight

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What you eat matters