Eating healthy is important for you and your growing baby. Eat as healthy as you can when you are planning a pregnancy and during pregnancy. Eat a variety of foods from the food groupings – vegetables and fruit, whole grains and protein foods. Make water your drink of choice. Limit processed foods high in salt, sugar or saturated fat. It is normal to gain weight in pregnancy. Your health care provider will talk to you about weight gain in pregnancy.
If you are thirsty, drink safe clean water. If you have concerns about the safety of your water, talk to your public health nurse or Public Health Ontario at 1-866-532-3161.
Ontario Groundwater Association
How much should you eat every day?
Eat healthy food every day. Choose food with the assistance of the Canada Food Guide
Learning about healthy food
Community health and prenatal programs are a good place to get information about food and healthy pregnancy. They can help you find information on questions you have about food and nutrient needs. They may also be able to direct you to programs that teach about cooking or to help access food and prenatal vitamins.
Healthy Eating Tips
- Talk to your health care provider about taking a multivitamin with folic acid and iron. Prenatal vitamins are covered through NIHB.
- If you don’t drink cow’s milk, there are many other ways to get calcium. Some Indigenous people are lactose intolerant and need other sources. There are other sources of calcium like unsweetened fortified soy, rice or almond beverages, firm tofu, beans and canned salmon (with bones).
- The best drinks are water and lower-fat milk or milk alternatives such as unsweetened, fortified rice, almond or soy beverage. Juice is high in sugars. Limit juice to small amounts. It is recommended to replace juice with water. Coffee, tea, pop, and energy drinks may have caffeine in them. Keep your baby safe by having no more than 300 mg of caffeine a day, which is about two cups of coffee. Energy drinks are not recommended during pregnancy. Be careful if you use herbal teas or drinks. The safety of all herbal teas and drinks during pregnancy has not been tested. Talk to your health care provider about the safe use of herbal teas or drinks.
- Processed foods like chips, canned soups or meals, frozen meals and store-bought baked foods contain a lot of salt, sugar or fat. It is best to limit these foods. Eat more fresh foods and cook more at home. This allows you to control the ingredients in your foods.
- Fish liver oil is not safe during pregnancy.
- Some fish can be high in mercury. For more information, contact the Ontario Ministry of Environment Sport Fish Contaminant Monitoring Program at 1-800-820-2716 or www.ontario.ca/environment-and-energy/eating-ontario-fish.
- Avoid the following, if they are not pasteurized or in a can: meat spreads (patés), smoked seafood, or raw seafood. Fish should be cooked to 145 degrees Celsius.
- Avoid unpasteurized dairy products, fruit juice and cider. Always choose pasteurized products or heat unpasteurized products thoroughly.
- Choose pasteurized cheeses like cheese curds, cheddar and cottage cheese. Avoid soft and semi-soft cheeses like Brie, Havarti and Camembert as well as blue-veined cheeses.
- Bean sprouts and alfalfa sprouts should be cooked before eating.
For more information about safe foods and safe food handling during pregnancy, go to: https://www.canada.ca/
How Healthy Food Helps Your Baby
How much should you eat every day?
The most important thing is to eat good healthy food every day and drink clean safe water. Try to cook more often and avoid processed foods as much as possible. Try to eat foods as close to their natural state as possible (whole foods). Choose a variety of foods from each of food group in the chart below. This will help you stay strong and help you have a healthy pregnancy.
- Listen to you body’s signs for hunger and fullness.
- Eat regular meals and snacks in between.
- Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full.
Include a variety of foods at each meal from Canada’s Food Guide. This includes:
- Vegetables and fruit (e.g., wild greens, broccoli, tomatoes, berries).
- Protein foods (e.g., wild meat, red, meat, fish, chicken, eggs, beans, nuts, seeds, milk, cheese, yogurt, fortified soy beverage).
- Whole grains (e.g., bannock, bread, rice, pasta).
Aim to include a vegetable or fruit at each meal or snack. Eating several small meals each day may help if you have nausea and/or vomiting.
If you have gestational diabetes, ask your health care provider for a referral to a registered dietitian.
Tips from Canada’s Food Guide to Eat Healthier
- Replace sugary drinks with water.
- Try not to keep highly processed foods at home.
- Choose healthier menu options when eating out.
- Choose less processed foods, such as:
- Leftover baked chicken instead of deli meats.
- Steel-cut oats instead of sweetened instant oats.
- Make homemade versions of your favourite highly processed foods:
- Try a healthy muffin recipe to replace store-bought muffins.
- Make your own frozen dinners by choosing a healthy recipe and freezing it in meal-sized portions.
- Stock your kitchen with healthy snacks. Try snacks like:
- Nuts, fruit, carrots, hard-boiled eggs, smoked fish with crackers.
- Limit the use of highly processed spreads and dressings in your meals and snacks.
- Read the food label when grocery shopping to make good choices–don’t buy food high in sodium, sugar, or saturated fat.
Eat a Variety of Healthy Food every day and Choose Water for a Drink. Water is Life! Try to increase plant-based foods in your diet for greater health!
Be aware that food marketing or advertising affects your choices! Stay Strong and Stay Healthy!
Some people do not have enough money to get the healthy food that they need during pregnancy. There are programs that offer free healthy food for pregnancy such as Canada Prenatal Nutrition Programs (see below). There are also ideas for cooking healthy meals on a small budget through these programs.
For information and support
Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program (CPNP)
Services provide food, nutrition information, support, education, referral, and counselling on health issues.
Canada’s Food Guide
Your go-to-place for easy to understand information from registered dietitians.
Ask your health care provider for a referral to speak to see a registered dietitian.
To speak with a registered dietitian for free contact Telehealth Ontario at 1 866-797-0000
Nutrition Resource Centre’s Resource on Healthy Eating for a Healthy Pregnancy https://opha.on.ca/getmedia/a63ec7e8-52ab-4747-8573-fdeb6569937c/Healthy-Eating-for-a-Healthy-Baby-EN.pdf.aspx