Elementary Eating

How can you keep yourself and your baby in top health? It'’s easier than you think: For a nearly perfect prenatal diet, go back to the basics'—the food groups taught in grade school'—and follow the food and portion-size suggestions from the recently updated U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines.

{low-fat dairy}

3 servings a day 1 serving = 1 cup reduced-fat milk (2%), yogurt, custard, pudding or calcium- and vitamin D-fortified soy milk; 1 1/2 ounces natural cheese (such as cheddar); 2 ounces processed cheese; or 2 cups low-fat cottage cheese.

why you need them Milk and soy milk are your main sources of calcium and vitamin D, which build strong bones for your baby. Calcium also helps prevent your body from accumulating lead, a toxic metal that can cause nerve damage. Vitamins B12 and B6 in milk aid in nerve development, while protein is important for the creation of hormones, enzymes and nerve chemicals in both mother and baby.


7 or more servings, with at least half of them coming from whole grains 1 serving = 1 slice whole-wheat bread; 1/2 cup cooked whole-grain cereal (such as oatmeal), brown rice or whole-wheat pasta; 1/2 bagel or English muffin; or 1 small waffle, taco shell or 6-inch tortilla.

why you need them Whole grains supply fiber to keep you regular (constipation can be a problem after the first trimester); carbohydrates to fuel the metabolic processes that make a baby; B vitamins to help convert calories into energy; and trace minerals, such as copper, that are essential for the development of a baby's heart and blood vessels.


2–3 servings (at least 4 of them weekly should be legumes, nuts or seeds) 1 serving = 3 ounces cooked extra-lean meat, poultry breast or fish (except those high in mercury; see pg. 142); 1/2 cup tofu or legumes such as beans, lentils or split peas; 2 eggs; 1 1/2 ounces nuts; 2 tablespoons seeds; or 2 tablespoons nut butter.

why you need them Meats and legumes provide vitamin B6, which is necessary for your baby's nervous system and for protein metabolism. Most protein sources also are high in iron and zinc. Iron supplies oxygen to mom and baby, helps prevent anemia in mom and boosts iron stores in baby, while zinc helps prevent birth defects and aids in normal fetal growth.

{fruit & vegetables}

7–13 servings (at least 2 cups fruit and 2 1/2 cups vegetables, more in the second and third trimesters) 1 serving = 1 medium-size piece (such as an apple or carrot); 1 cup raw (such as melon cubes or spinach); 1/2 cup cooked (such as applesauce or green peas); 1/4 cup dried fruit; or 3/4 cup 100 % juice.

why you need them Produce is a good source of fiber and antioxidants, which protect your and your baby's tissues from free-radical damage (oxygen fragments that attack cells and are associated with many chronic diseases). Dark-green vegetables supply folic acid, the B vitamin that helps prevent neural-tube defects early in the first trimester and preterm delivery in the last.