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Food recommendations look different worldwide

Wednesday 5 Oct 2022
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Are you worried about the risk of eating certain foods during pregnancy? Relax! Food recommendations for pregnant women look different around the globe.1

In India, pregnancy food charts state exactly what should be eaten at what time of the day, including a handful of nuts at 4 pm.2 The charts are modified to suit women’s BMI, reflecting the vast differences in nutrition status of the Indian population.2 Japanese guidelines for pregnant women similarly offer a pregnancy food plan, but for each day of the week. In addition to recommending vegetables, the Japanese food plan has a rather strong focus on seafood.3

In the Netherlands, precise amounts for each food product are stated, but there is no schedule.4 Sweden and Finland have even less detailed  pregnancy recommendations with pregnancy food charts focusing on the benefits of a diverse diet.5,6

On the other hand, in the United States, expecting mothers are informed about food safety and how to avoid foodborne illnesses and harmful microorganisms. The focus is hence less on particular foods, but rather on hygiene practices when cooking.7 Pregnant women are for example given precise information on how to wash fruit and vegetables and instructions about how to heat certain foods.7 

Despite local differences, there are globally well established recommendations to keep a good health during pregnancy, such as the intake of folic acid supplements, the avoidance of alcohol and the importance of a versatile diet combined with exercise.8

If you feel stressed about what you can or cannot eat, take a deep breath and remember that mothers around the world eat very different diets and that healthy babies are born everywhere.9 With that in mind,  check your country’s pregnancy diet recommendations and enjoy your meals!

South India4 Japan5 The Netherlands3
Early Morning 6.30 am

milk 200 ml

  • 250 g vegetables
  • 2 portions of fruit
  • 4 to 7 full corn bread
  • 4 to 5 spoons of full corn carbohydrate products or 4 to 5 potatoes
  • 40 g cooking fats 
  • 1,5 – 2 L liquid
  • 40 g cheese
  • 3 to 4 portions of dairy products
  • 25 g unsalted nuts
Breakfast 08.00 am

2 dosa (Indian lentil pancake) + 100 mg vegetable chutney 


Rice + grilled fish + dipping

Mid-Morning 10.30 am

100 g seasonal fruit


Pickles + apple + tea 

Lunch 01.00 pm

4 roti (a type of bread) + 30 g meat + 50 g green leafy vegetables curry + 50 g salad + 100 ml curd


Rice + tofu with meat miso + starchy sauce + seaweed salad + clear soup

Afternoon snacks 04.00 pm

100 g seasonal fruit + 30 g nuts


Roasted green tea + Biscuits

Dinner 08.00 pm

100 g rice + ½ Tur Dal + 75 g green leafy vegetables + 50 g vegetables + 100 ml curd


Pasta + salad

Bedtime 10.00 pm

100 ml milk


Milk soup + coffee + sherbet

Examples of daily food plans (India and Japan) and food recommendations (The Netherlands) for pregnant women. Amounts per day. 


Nutrition in Pregnancy: A Comparative Review of Major Guidelines. Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2020. Volume 75 (692–702) Tsakiridis I, Kasapidou E, Dagklis T, Leonida I, Leonida C, Bakaloudi DR, et al.


Nutrition in Pregnancy: A Comparative Review of Major Guidelines. Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2020. Volume 75 (692–702) Tsakiridis I, Kasapidou E, Dagklis T, Leonida I, Leonida C, Bakaloudi DR, et al.


Influence of Japanese diet consumption during pregnancy and lactation on lipid metabolism in offspring. Nutrition. 2019. Volume 58 (69–76). Ishikawa H, Guo X, Sugawara S, Iwagaki Y, Yamamoto K, Konno A, et al.


Wat kan ik wel en niet eten tijdens mijn zwangerschap?, Voedingscentrum [Web-page]. cited 2022 Aug 17. Available from:


Bra mat när du är gravid. 1177 [Web-page]. cited 2022 Feb 19. Available from:–gravid/graviditet/livsstil-och-halsa-under-graviditeten/bra-mat-nar-du-ar-gravid/


Äitiysneuvolaopas – suosituksia äitiysneuvolatoimintaan. Terveyden ja hyvinvoinnin laitos. 2013. Kansallinen Äitiyshuollon asiantuntijaryhmä.


Safe Eats from Food Safety for Moms to Be. FDA [Wep-page]. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2022 Jan 20 [cited 2022 Aug 17]; Available from:


WHO recommendations on antenatal care for a positive pregnancy experience. World Health Organization [Wep-page]. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2016 [cited 2022 Aug 17]. Available from:


Nutrition and maternal, neonatal, and child health. Semin Perinatol. 2015. Volume 39 (361–372). Christian P, Mullany LC, Hurley KM, Katz J, Black RE. 


The photo is taken by Alex Hudson, Unsplash.