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Healthy Eating When Planning a Pregnancy


caesar salad with a lemon wedge



Eating well is one of the most important things you can do right now to help ensure a healthy pregnancy - and a healthy baby.

Here are some basic tips to get you on your way:

  1. Eat a balanced diet. Canada’s Food Guide

     can help you plan healthy meals and snacks. It gives examples and shows the amount of food you need each day. For help with creating your own healthy eating plan, try the online tool “My Food Guide”. 

  2. Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied. Many of us were taught to eat everything on our plates, but this can lead to overeating. The best way to know how much to eat is to listen to your body.

  3. Plan for three meals plus healthy snacks daily. Eating meals and healthy snacks at around the same times each day helps you feel energetic and avoid unhealthy snacking. During each meal, aim for 1/2 plate of vegetables and fruit, 1/4 plate of grain products, 1/4 plate of meat or alternatives, and a serving of milk or alternatives. 
  4. Choose healthy fluids. Water and milk are good options. Small amounts of 100% fruit or vegetable juice are OK but you’ll get more nutrition and fibre from eating the whole fruit or vegetable. Limit caffeine and sugary drinks like pop, slurpees, and anything labeled “drink” or “beverage.”  These have lots of calories but little nutrition. For women of childbearing age, Health Canada recommends a maximum daily caffeine intake of no more than 300 mg (equal to 2 cups/500mL coffee or 4 cups/1000mL of tea).  

To get the best nutrition from your food and keep your energy levels up, follow  Canada’s Food Guide.  That means:

  • Eating at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day.
  • Choosing vegetables and fruit more often than juice and prepared with little or no added fat, sugar, or salt.
  • Making at least half of your grain products whole grain.
  • Choosing whole grain products that are lower in fat, sugar or salt.
  • Selecting lower fat milk (skim, 1% or 2%).
  • Choosing meat alternatives such as beans, lentils and tofu often.
  • Eating at least two Food Guide servings of fish each week.
  • Selecting lean meat and alternatives prepared with little or no added fat or salt.

Did you know? - Some experts recommend incorporating lifestyle changes three months before you start trying to conceive - but it's never too early, or too late.

Resources and Links:

Canada's Food Guide
Healthy Eating

Last Updated: August 13, 2013