MyPlate is a general guide to help you eat healthy while you are pregnant. The food groups are the major sources of nutrients necessary for health.
Following is a summary of each food group, important nutrients it supplies, and portion size guidelines.
Remember that a large number of foods you eat will provide servings from two or more of the food groups (for example: pizza, cheeseburger, casseroles, soups). Be aware that the portion you are used to eating may be smaller or larger than the standards listed. When checking your own daily eating against these guides, be sure to adjust for these differences.
Breads, cereals and grains
Breads, cereals, and other grain products are sources of nutrients, including:
Whole grain products are an important source of fiber and trace minerals. Make sure that you buy or bake products that contain “enriched” (vitamins and iron removed during refining process have been replaced) or whole grain flours.
Read labels to learn the ingredients in the products you buy. High-fiber grain products will list “whole wheat flour”, rather than just “wheat flour” or “unbleached flour”.
Other whole grain ingredients are oats, oatmeal, rye, graham, and bran.
- 1 slice bread or toast
- 1 average size muffin, roll, biscuit, bun, bagel, or tortilla
- ¾ – 1 ½ c ready-to-eat cereal
- ½ c cooked cereal
- ½ c cooked rice, noodles, or pasta
- 4 – 6 crackers or 1 ½ c popcorn
Adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals ensure your body’s normal function, and most vegetables are rich sources of minerals and vitamins, including:
- Vitamins A
- Vitamin C
It is important to include fresh vegetables in your regular diet and to include a good source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C in your daily diet. These vegetables include:
- Winter squash
- Sweet potatoes
- Green peppers
- Brussels sprouts
Other vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals and should be eaten to provide variety in daily eating. Use the least amount of water necessary, and the shortest cooking time needed when preparing your vegetables.
- ½ – ¾ c cooked vegetable
- 1 c raw vegetables or leafy greens
- 4 – 6 oz vegetable juice
Fruits are also valuable sources of vitamins and minerals. In addition, fruits provide a significant source of calories or energy.
Apricots, cantaloupe, plums, papaya and mango are good sources of Vitamin A. Citrus fruits and juices, strawberries and cantaloupe are rich in Vitamin C. Remember to include a good source of Vitamins A and C on a daily basis (either fruit or vegetable).
To preserve the vitamin and mineral content of your fruits, do not prolong exposure to light, air, or heat, and use the freshest fruit possible.
- 1 average size piece of fresh fruit
- ½ c canned fruit
- 4 – 6 oz of fruit juice
Meat and meat substitute group/Proteins
Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, peanut butter, and legumes provide protein, iron, zinc, and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals to you and your baby.
Protein provides the building blocks for all the new tissues growing in your body. If you do not eat certain meats, you need to use others to get the recommended number of servings.
If you do not eat meat at all, you need to discuss planning your daily eating with a registered dietitian, to make sure that you get an adequate amount of protein, and receive the right supplements.
- 1 – 2 oz cooked meat, poultry, or fish
- 2 eggs or ½ c egg substitute
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- ½ c nuts or seeds
- 1 c cooked dried peas or beans
Milk and dairy products are excellent sources of calcium, Vitamin D (if fortified), riboflavin, and protein.
If you dislike or do not tolerate milk, you can obtain the same nutrients from other milk products including plain or flavored yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, milk based pudding, or ice cream.
If you have a known deficiency of lactase, the enzyme needed to digest milk sugar, you can supplement that enzyme in the form of a tablet or a liquid when you eat milk products.
You can even buy milk in the store with the enzyme already added. If you do not have recommended amounts of milk or milk products, you will need to discuss this with your provider.
It is possible to adjust your diet and use substitutes to fulfill nutrient requirements caused by a lack of milk in your diet. It is not necessary to drink whole milk or avoid low-fat milk products, as all the listed milk products provide the essential nutrients. The higher the fat content of the food, the higher the calories will be.
- 1 c milk or yogurt
- 1 – 1 ½ oz natural or aged cheese
- 1 ½ c cottage cheese or ice cream
- 1 c milk-based pudding
- 1 c milk-based soup
Fats, oils, and sweets
Foods in this group include:
- Sweetened soft drinks
- Butter and margarine
- Fried foods
- Jellies and jams
- Vegetable oils and shortening
- Sour cream
- Cream cheese
- Salad dressing
These foods contain few nutrients, are high in calories and should be used sparingly.
Beverages and semi-solid foods provide you with the water you need daily. You should drink a minimum of 8 cups of fluid each day. Many women need more fluids to prevent constipation, headaches, and swelling.
In counting your total fluid, include your servings of milk, juice, soups, water, and other beverages.
Remember to avoid alcoholic beverages, and to limit caffeinated beverages.
Meal planning hints
Try to plan your meals using three or four of the food groups in each meal.
Example: Breakfast Food group
- Fruit serving: 1 medium banana
- Grain serving: 1 slice whole wheat bread (toasted).
- Meat/meat substitute serving: 1 tbsp peanut butter (on toast)
- Milk serving: 1 – 8 oz glass of 1% milk
Divide your servings from each food group over at least three meals rather than having all at one meal.
Plan nutritious snacks and have them readily available at home or work to fill in the necessary food groups each day:
- ½ sandwich (cheese, meat, peanut butter)
- Cheese and crackers
- Pudding, custard, yogurt, ice cream
- Fresh fruit, raw vegetables
- Hard cooked egg
- Cereal and milk
If you are gaining weight too quickly, cut out unnecessary fat and sugar. Eliminate candy and sweets except for an occasional treat. Measure your normal portions and compare to the standard servings listed. Keep a daily diary of the foods you eat and analyze your eating habits in relation to your weekly weight gain. If you need extra help or advice, ask to see a registered dietitian.
A moderate amount of salt in your diet helps to maintain the proper levels of sodium in your body as the baby develops.
A well-balanced diet will provide enough sodium for you and your growing baby. We recommend using iodized salt if you’re using salt in cooking or at the table.
If you have questions about your salt/sodium consumption, ask your provider.
A vegetarian diet that includes milk, milk products, and eggs (Ovo-lacto vegetarian) in addition to fruits, vegetables, and grain products can be adequate for pregnancy with careful planning.
Dried peas and beans (black, kidney, soy, navy), chickpeas, lentils, seeds, nuts, and nut butters will provide protein in the absence of meat, fish, or poultry.
To make these proteins more usable by your body, try adding milk, cheese, or eggs to a meal.
A Vegan diet, a vegetarian diet without milk and eggs, does not provide all the nutrients needed during pregnancy. Strict vegetarians need to have a Vitamin B-12 supplement. This diet, unless carefully planned, may be low in calories, protein, iron, calcium and other minerals and vitamins.
If you are following a Vegan, or strict vegetarian diet without meat, milk, and eggs, careful planning and follow-up with a registered dietitian is recommended.