What to Eat When Pregnant

What to Eat When Pregnant 

Congratulations! You have a baby on the way! Now that you're expecting, it is especially important to eat a well balanced diet. Not only are you eating for your own health, but also for the health of your growing baby. With that in mind, there may be minor changes that you will have to make to your eating habits to help your baby grow safely and healthy.

Eating twice as well

Before you start doubling up on groceries, know that "eating for 2" doesn't mean that it's time to eat twice as many servings of food. Yes, you may need to increase how much you eat. But how much more you need to eat will depend on how far along you are in your pregnancy.

Start by getting a copy of Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide (CFG). You can refer to the same copy you used before you were pregnant. During the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, most women may eat a little more food. The extra calories and nutrients will help your baby grow and build fat stores to prepare you for breastfeeding. It will also help to increase bodily fluids, such as your blood supply, amniotic fluid and maternal fluid. Try to include an extra 2 to 3 Food Guide servings per day. Include these extra servings in a meal or as an additional snack. For example, enjoy a yogurt parfait with fruit, yogurt and whole rolled oats as an afternoon snack. Or, add an extra piece of toast at breakfast and an extra cup of milk at dinner.

What should you avoid during your pregnancy?

The list of foods and drinks to avoid during pregnancy may seem overwhelming. Consider keeping a list on the fridge, in your wallet or in your phone. Your family doctor can teach you more about which foods and drinks to avoid during pregnancy. You can also check out Parenting in Ottawa's Safe Pregnancy webpage for more information.

Did you know that you and your unborn baby are at an increased risk of getting sick from foodborne illness? This is why it is extremely important to follow proper food safety behaviours during this time. Here are some food safety tips to keep in mind while meal planning. Raw fish and unpasteurized milk products contain potential disease-causing bacteria, which can cause infections such as listeriosis. So try to keep away from the oysters and sushi, and consider eating hard cheese instead of soft cheeses. Other foods to avoid include undercooked meat or poultry, non-dried deli meats, hot dogs, foods made with raw eggs (such as homemade Caesar salad dressing) and raw sprouts.

You may also be wondering if it is okay to consume beverages and foods that contain caffeine during your pregnancy. Caffeine increases your blood pressure and heart rate, and passes to your baby through the placenta. Too much caffeine can also increase the risk of adverse birth and developmental effects. Reducing your caffeine intake is a common challenge for many pregnant women. Particularly when it comes to coffee!

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that you limit your caffeine intake to no more than 300 mg daily. This means that you should not drink more than 2 cups of coffee per day. So try skipping the afternoon coffee and opt for a glass of water or milk instead. Pregnant women need to drink at least 2 litres of fluids each day! Other sources of caffeine can include tea, cola, energy drinks, and dark or milk chocolate.

As with caffeine, alcohol also crosses the placenta when consumed by a pregnant woman. No amount of alcohol is considered safe while you are pregnant.

For more information please visit the Safe Pregnancy section. 


Want to speak with a Registered Dietitian?

  • Call Telehealth Ontario and ask to speak with a Registered Dietitian. Available Monday-Friday 9am-5pm at 1-866-797-0000 (TTY: 1-866-797-0007)

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