You would be surprised how helpful it is, during pregnancy, to have a tool that can give you an idea — gently, confidentially and free — how well you are eating on a daily basis. It can inspire confidence or it can give you a nod toward improvement, without encouraging obsessiveness or guilt. The updated Canada’s Food Guide, launched in February, now provides the number of servings of each food group you should aim for, according to your age. It also gives more guidance on how much a serving is for various types of foods.
Depending on your pre-pregnancy weight, you simply need two or three extra servings from any food group daily. For example, one day you could have an extra slice of whole wheat bread with peanut butter; another day, you could have a smoothie with milk and canned peaches in addition to what you would normally eat. If you visit the Health Canada website, you’ll find a handy tool that lets you personalize the guide with your favourite foods (hc-sc.gc.ca and follow the links).
Food group Daily servings/Age 19-30 years 31-50 years Vegetables & fruit 8 7 Grains 7 6 Milk & alternatives 2 2 Meat & alternatives 2 2 Oils & fats 2-3 tbsp vegetable oil Add 2-3 servings of any food group for pregnancy Other recommendations:
• Emphasize fruit and vegetables. Note that the guide’s green arc is now the biggest one. Include dark green and orange vegetables every day. Fresh, dried, canned and frozen fruits, veggies and berries are all healthy choices. Try them for snacks.
• Choose whole fruit more often than fruit juice.
• Both milk and fortified soy beverage can supply the calcium and vitamin D you need.
• Beans, lentils, soy products, nuts and whole grains can supply protein, in addition to, or instead of, meat or poultry.
• Eat at least two servings of fish per week. Choose fish that are low in mercury and provide omega-3 fats, such as salmon, trout, sardines, herring, mackerel, anchovies, haddock, pollock, tilapia or canned skipjack tuna.
• Satisfy your thirst with water.
• Take a daily prenatal supplement that includes 400 micrograms (or 0.4 milligrams) of folic acid.
– Ellen Desjardins, MHSc, RD, Public Health Nutritionist
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