The Right Stuff

Eating the healthiest food possible during pregnancy can give you and your baby the nutrients you both need to thrive.


pregnancy nutrition basics

Choose from all five food groups (grains; fruits; vegetables; milk products; and meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts) every day. Fifty percent to 60 percent of your total daily calories should be from carbohydrates, 20 to 30 percent from fat, and 10 to 20 percent from protein. Include 25 to 30 grams of fiber in your diet every day. Use fats, oils and sweets sparingly. Drink at least 64 ounces of fluid daily (eight 8-ounce glasses), more if you’re active and during hot weather. Get healthful fats from foods such as nuts, olive oil and fish. Take a prenatal supplement, as prescribed by your doctor or midwife, that has approximately 100 to 150 percent of the daily value for a wide range of vitamins and minerals. What to Avoid: Don’t eat foods such as soft, unpasteurized cheeses (feta, brie, Camembert and Mexican-style cheeses), raw or undercooked meats, sushi, seafood and eggs, which may harbor the listeria bacterium. Avoid deli meats and hot dogs unless they are steaming hot. Also, don’t consume fish that may contain excessive mercury, such as king mackerel, shark, swordfish and tilefish; and limit shellfish and canned fish to 12 ounces a week. Avoid alcohol and switch to decaffeinated tea, cola and coffee.

5-day meal plan During your first trimester, you need about 2,000 to 2,200 calories per day (the same number of calories recommended for nonpregnant women). The following meal plan fulfills that calorie requirement and provides most vital nutrients, such as calcium, iron, fiber and folate. In your second and third trimesters, add two snacks per day from “Smart Snacks” (pg. 93) to get the additional 300 calories you need. Note: Recipes follow for dishes marked with an asterisk (*).

monday Breakfast 1 cup whole-grain cereal fortified with 100% folic acid and iron (such as Whole Grain Total) 1 cup reduced-fat (2%) milk 1 slice cinnamon bread, toasted 1 tablespoon peanut butter 1¼2 cup calcium-fortified orange juice Lunch 1 whole-wheat pita with 1¼2 cup hummus, 2 tomato slices, 4 cucumber slices and 2 romaine lettuce leaves 8 baby carrots 1 cup reduced-fat (2%) milk 1 apple 2 molasses cookies Dinner 11¼2 cups Sesame Noodles With Spinach* 4 ounces cooked salmon 1 cup reduced-fat (2%) milk 1¼2 cup mango sorbet Nutritional information per day: 2,031 calories, 28% fat (63 g), 55% carbohydrate (282 g), 17% protein (86 g), 29 g fiber, 36 mg iron, 2,620 mg calcium, 1,006 mcg folate.

tuesday Breakfast 1 medium plain bagel, toasted 2 tablespoons peanut butter 1 banana 1 cup reduced-fat (2%) milk Lunch 11¼2 cups leftover Sesame Noodles With Spinach* 8 baby carrots 1 cup reduced-fat (2%) milk 1 granola bar 1 orange Dinner 4 ounces beef steak (such as T-bone), broiled or grilled and well done 1 medium sweet potato, baked (about 3¼4 cup) 1 teaspoon butter 1¼2 cup cooked broccoli florets 1 cup reduced-fat (2%) milk Nutritional information per day: 1,979 calories, 34% fat (75 g), 49% carbohydrate (242 g), 17% protein (87 g), 24 g fiber, 14 mg iron, 1,161 mg calcium, 475 mcg folate.

wednesday Breakfast Smoothie: Blend together 1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt, 1¼2 banana, 1¼2 cup fresh or frozen berries, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1–2 ice cubes. 1 medium oat-bran muffin Lunch 11¼2 cups Red Lentil Soup* 1 whole-wheat roll 2 ounces cheddar cheese 1 cup reduced-fat (2%) milk Dinner 11¼2 cups store-bought or frozen lasagna with meat 2 cups packaged Caesar salad kit with 2 tablespoons reduced-fat dressing 1 cup reduced-fat (2%) milk 1¼2 cup frozen yogurt Nutritional information per day: 2,042 calories, 31% fat (70 g), 47% carbohydrate (246 g), 22% protein (113 g), 22 g fiber, 13 mg iron, 2,443 mg calcium, 451 mcg folate.

thursday Breakfast 2 scrambled eggs 2 slices whole-wheat bread 2 teaspoons jam 1¼2 grapefruit 1 cup reduced-fat (2%) milk Lunch 1 Veggie Cheese Wrap* 1 banana 1 cup reduced-fat (2%) milk Dinner 4-ounce turkey burger on a bun with 2 tomato slices, 1 lettuce leaf, ketchup, mustard and relish 1 cup tabbouleh salad 1 cup reduced-fat (2%) milk 1¼2 cup frozen yogurt 2 tablespoons granola topping Nutritional information per day: 2,007 calories, 38% fat (87 g), 43% carbohydrate (217 g), 19% protein (96 g), 30 g fiber, 10 mg iron, 1,765 mg calcium, 314 mcg folate.

friday Breakfast 2 packets instant oatmeal with raisins and spices 1 cup reduced-fat (2%) milk 1 banana Lunch “Salad Bar” Salad: Toss together 2 cups romaine lettuce, 1 hard-boiled egg, 1¼2 cup low-fat cottage cheese, 1¼4 cup diced red bell peppers, 1¼2 cup garbanzo beans, 3 tablespoons light Italian dressing. 1 whole-wheat pita 2 tangerines 1 cup reduced-fat (2%) milk Dinner 2 slices cheese pizza 1¼2 cup cooked spinach 1 cup reduced-fat (2%) milk 1 cup Winter Fruit Salad* Nutritional information per day: 2,152 calories, 21% fat (51 g), 61% carbohydrate (339 g), 18% protein (100 g), 37 g fiber, 26 mg iron, 2,090 mg calcium, 867 mcg folate.

Smart Snacks Eating two snacks of about 150 calories each is an easy way to get the extra 300 calories you need daily in your second and third trimesters. Try these healthful suggestions from Eating for Pregnancy: An Essential Guide to Nutrition With Recipes for the Whole Family (Marlowe & Co., 2003). 1 hard-boiled egg with 1 slice whole-wheat bread: 147 calories 1¼2 cup low-fat yogurt with 2 tablespoons granola: 150 calories 1 cup fresh vegetables with 1¼4 cup sour-cream-based spinach dip: 150 calories 1¼3 cup black bean dip with 5 whole-wheat crackers: 154 calories 2 celery stalks with 11¼2 tablespoons peanut butter: 155 calories 1¼4 cup hummus with 3 whole-wheat crackers: 158 calories 1 ounce cheddar cheese with 3 whole-wheat crackers: 167 calories 3¼4 cup fortified cereal with 1¼2 cup reduced-fat (2%) milk: 171 calories Half of a peanut butter sandwich: 172 calories 1¼2 cup low-fat cottage cheese with 2 rye crisp- bread crackers: 173 calories recipes

Sesame Noodles With Spinach Serves 4 Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes 8 ounces linguini noodles 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil 2 tablespoons soy sauce 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar 1¼2 cup red bell pepper, thinly sliced 11¼2 cups baby spinach leaves, stems removed, tightly packed 1 very small garlic clove, crushed Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and rinse quickly under cold water. Drain again, then place in a large bowl. Add the sesame oil, soy sauce and rice vinegar to the noodles and toss to coat. Add the remaining ingredients and toss gently until well combined. Nutritional information per serving (1 cup): 253 calories, 26% fat (7 g), 61% carbohydrate (39 g), 13% protein (8 g), 3 g fiber, 3 mg iron, 28 mg calcium, 120 mcg folate.

Red Lentil Soup Serves 6–8 Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 35 minutes 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 medium onion, chopped 2 garlic cloves, crushed 3 carrots, peeled and sliced 11¼2 cups red lentils, rinsed (available at health-food stores) 7 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock, or water 1 teaspoon dried mint Dash paprika Salt and freshly ground pepper Melt the butter in a 6-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots, lentils and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until the carrots and lentils are soft. During the last 20 minutes of cooking, add the mint, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Thin soup with additional stock or water, if desired. Nutritional information per serving (1 cup): 236 calories, 19% fat (5 g), 56% carbohydrate (34 g), 25% protein (15 g), 6 g fiber, 4 mg iron, 47 mg calcium, 106 mcg folate.

Veggie Cheese Wrap Serves 1 Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 1 minute 4 slices provolone or Swiss cheese 1 10-inch tortilla 3 tomato slices 2 strips jarred roasted red bell peppers 1¼4 avocado, sliced 1¼2 cup romaine lettuce, shredded 1 tablespoon salsa, or to taste Arrange the cheese over the tortilla and microwave for 20 seconds, or until the cheese melts. Top with the remaining ingredients, roll up, and slice in half. Nutritional information per serving (1 wrap): 416 calories, 47% fat (22 g), 34% carbohydrate (36 g), 19% protein (20 g), 15 g fiber, 1 mg iron, 476 mg calcium, 91 mcg folate.