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Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Daily Food Needs

Every diet should include proteins, carbohydrates (sugars and starches), vitamins, minerals and fats. Your body uses all of these nutrients for growth and repair. In pregnancy, your fetus depends on the foods you eat for nutrients. To be sure that your diet gives you the right amount, you need to know which foods are good sources of each. Following is a table that lists your daily food needs in accordance with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Food Group Important Functions Amount (count as one serving) Points To Remember
Bread, Cereal, Rice and Pasta Provide complex carbohydrates (starches), an important source of energy, vitamins, minerals and fiber. 1 slice of bread
1 ounce of cold cereal
1/2 cup of cooked cereal, rice or pasta
You need the most servings from this group each day. Choose whole-grain products such as whole-wheat bread and foods made with little fat or sugar such as bread, English muffins, rice and pasta.
Vegetables Provide vitamins A and C, fiber, folic acid and minerals such as iron and magnesium. Low in fat. 1 cup of raw, leafy vegetables
1/2 cup of other cooked or raw vegetables
3/4 cup of vegetable juice
Choose a variety of vegetables, such as dark-green leafy vegetables (spinach, romaine lettuce, broccoli), deep-yellow vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes), starchy vegetables (potatoes, corn, peas), and legumes (chickpeas and navy, pinto, and kidney beans). Include dark green leafy vegetables and legumes several times a week for the vitamins they supply. Because legumes also supply protein, they can be used in place of meat.
Fruit Provide vitamins A and C, potassium and fiber. 1 medium apple, banana or orange
1/2 cup of chopped, cooked or canned fruit
3/4 cup of fruit juice
Choose fresh fruits, fruit juices and frozen, canned or dried fruit. Eat vitamin C-rich citrus fruits, melons and berries often. Choose fruit juices instead of fruit drinks.
Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Meat, Eggs and Nuts Provide B vitamins, protein, iron and zinc. Protein and iron are especially important in pregnancy since the fetus needs enough of each for normal development. 23 ounces of cooked lean poultry, fish or meat, 1/2 cup of cooked dry beans, 1 egg, or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, or 1 ounce of lean meat Choose lean meats, and trim off fat and skin before cooking. Use low-fat cooking methods such as baking, poaching or broiling. Dry beans, peas, nuts, lentils or other legumes are also good sources of protein.
Milk, Yogurt and Cheese Major source of protein, calcium, phosphorus and vitamins. Calcium is especially important in pregnancy. 1 cup of milk or yogurt
1 1/2 ounces of natural cheese
2 ounces of processed cheese
Choose low-fat, skim or part-skim items whenever possible. If you can't or don't eat milk products, choose green leafy vegetables and nuts and seeds (such as almonds or sesame seeds). They are good sources of calcium.

Last updated August 4, 2006




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