The Pregnancy Food Guide Pyramid

Eating a variety of foods from all of the food groups is the best way to ensure you are getting the calories and nutrients you need. The USDA's Food Guide Pyramid is a good guideline for pregnant women; it ensures you consume the following minimum number of servings in each food group (about 2,500 calories):

  • 9 servings from the bread, cereal, rice, and pasta group. Examples of a single serving from this group include a slice of whole-wheat bread, ½ cup cooked cereal, half a bagel, or ½ cup of pasta. Be sure to include whole-grain and whole-wheat starches as well as other starches higher in fiber.

  • 4 servings from the vegetable group. Examples of a single serving from this group include 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables, ½ cup of other vegetables, raw or cooked, or ¾ cup vegetable juice. Choose a variety of vegetables — the darker the color, the more nutrients a vegetable has.

  • 3 servings from the fruit group. Examples of a single serving from this group include a medium apple, a small banana, a small orange, ½ cup chopped fruit, or ¾ cup fruit juice. Choose a variety of fruits daily, as raw fruits are higher in fiber than juices.

  • 3–4 servings from the milk, yogurt, and cheese group. Examples of a single serving from this group include 1 cup of milk or yogurt, 1.5 ounces natural cheese, or 2 ounces processed cheese. Use fat-free or low-fat milk, nonfat or low-fat yogurt, and low-fat cheese.

  • 6–7 ounces (2–3 servings) from the meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts group. Examples of a single serving from this group include 3 ounces poultry, fish, or lean meat; 1 ounce meat = ½ cup cooked dried beans, a whole egg, ½ cup tofu, ⅓ cup nuts, or 2 tablespoons peanut butter. Choose lean meats and trim fat from meat before cooking. With poultry, remove skin. Include cooked dry beans often as the main dish in meals.

  • A common pitfall to the healthy diet is skipping breakfast. When you skip breakfast, you are forcing your body to go ten to twelve hours without food — and going that long without nourishing your baby. When you are famished, it is easy to choose the wrong foods and eat too much of them, so skipping breakfast may cause you to eat more calories than you intended.

    Carving Up the Calories

    The calories in all the healthy foods that make up the USDA Food Guide Pyramid are made up of three basic nutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. These three nutrients are known as the macronutrients because we need them in larger amounts. Even though each macronutrient has a particular function in the body, they work together in partnership for good health and for a healthy pregnancy. During pregnancy, the required amounts of some of these nutrients change only slightly.

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