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Healthy eating habits for expectant moms

When you are expecting, a well-balanced diet is important to get all the nutrients your body needs to meet the needs of your growing fetus.

A diet low in fat, sugar and cholesterol and high in vegetables, fruits and grains is best.

Here are some guidelines for healthy eating:

Grains provide essential carbohydrates necessary for energy. Remember that whole-grains are best. Look at the food label; make sure it says whole-wheat flour, not simply wheat flour for the best nutritional value.

Choose 6 to 9 servings per day:
1/2 to 1 cup cold cereal
1/2 cup cooked cereal, pasta or rice
1 slice bread
1/2 English muffin
1/2 small bagel
6 crackers

Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are a great source of vitamins, minerals and fiber for digestion.

Choose 3 or more servings per day:
1 medium-sized piece of fruit
1/2 cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit
1/4 cup dried fruit
1 cup raw, leafy vegetables
1/2 to 1 cup of cooked or raw vegetables
1/2 cup fruit or vegetable juice
1 small baked potato

Meat, poultry, fish, eggs and beans
These foods provide you and your baby with protein, B vitamins and iron. Protein is essential for your baby’s growth.

Choose 2 or more servings per day: 2 to 3 ounces of cooked lean meat (about the size of a deck of cards)
1/2 cup cooked dried beans
1 egg
1/2 cup tofu
1/3 cup nuts
2 tablespoons peanut butter

Dairy provides calcium with helps build strong bones and teeth. Dairy also has vitamin A, D and protein.

Choose 4 or more servings per day:
1 cup skim milk
1 cup yogurt
2 ounces natural cheese (about the size of 6 dice)
2 ounces of processed cheese

If you are have trouble digesting dairy, try calcium-fortified orange juice or lactose-free products.

Fats, oils and sweets
While there's no minimum intake requirements, it's important to keep track how many fats, oils and sweets you are eating to maintain a healthy weight gain during pregnancy. Also, if you eat too many, you'll deprive yourself of important vitamins and nutrients found in healthier foods.

Caloric intake
It's important to remember that "eating for two" doesn't mean eating twice as many calories. On the average, women who are not pregnant need about 1,800 to 2,200 calories per day. When you are pregnant, you only need to add about 300 calories. This will help prevent unnecessary weight gain. On average, women gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy.

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