Controlling Weight During Pregnancy

The Best Diet for Baby

Eating the right amount of food from each of the five groups in the USDA Food Guide Pyramid will ensure that you and your baby get the nutrients you both need. But before you get too excited about the number of servings you're allowed, pay attention to what constitutes a serving. For example, one pancake the size of a CD -- not three giant ones smothered in butter and syrup -- equals one serving of grains. Whether you have three big meals a day or six small ones, it's important to eat consistently. You may also be more comfortable eating smaller meals later in your pregnancy as your baby puts more pressure on your abdomen. Here's how your diet divides up:

Grains (6 to 11 servings) provide carbohydrates, your body's main source of energy. Try to work in as many whole grains as you can; they provide fiber and ease constipation, a common problem during pregnancy. One serving of grains is roughly one slice of bread or one cup of cooked rice, cereal, or pasta.

Fruits (2 to 4 servings) and vegetables (3 to 5 servings) are packed with essential vitamins and nutrients as well as fiber. These foods enable you to use iron more efficiently and help your baby build tissue. A veggie serving can consist of one cup of raw leafy or cooked vegetables. One fruit serving can be one medium-size whole fruit, one cup of canned fruit, or one cup of fruit juice. Moms-to-be should strive to eat at least one daily serving of produce rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes.

Protein (2 to 3 servings) is found in foods such as meat, fish, and beans, and is crucial for your baby's tissue growth. Two to three ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish (about the size of a deck of cards) is considered one serving. One egg, two tablespoons of peanut butter, or 1/3 cup of nuts can also count as one ounce of meat.

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