I have felt this "need" to write up a blog post about pregnancy nutrition. As a now pregnant woman, I have heard so much misinformation about pregnancy nutrition that I kind of want to address a few of these issues. I have always felt as a Registered Dietitian that it is so important to have all the scientifically accurate facts when it comes to your health. So hopefully you find some of this information helpful and insightful for yourself or someone that you know who is pregnant.
Pregnancy Nutrition Myths Unmasked
- "You are eating for two" This is one of the most common things that I have heard lately. Unfortunately I don't believe that as a pregnant person you should be operating under this assumption. Not until your third trimester should you be increasing your calorie intake significantly.
- 1st Trimester - do not consume any extra calories. Continue to eat your normal, healthy diet. Nausea is often challenging at this time so finding foods that sound appetizing is important. Try to balance your fruit/vegetable intake and make sure to aim for small, frequent meals if nausea is an issue for you.
- 2nd Trimester - it is recommended to consume an additional 340 calories per day. That is not a lot of extra calories. If you enjoy sweet treats, that could easily just be 1 donut or 1 Starbucks drink a day worth of calories. To help keep our calories under control, it might be helpful to count your calories. I have been using MyFitnessPal to help keep tabs on my calorie limits per day. Also continue to be active and make sure that you are exercising on a regular basis.
- 3rd Trimester - this is where your baby ends up growing the most. You need an additional 450 calories per day. Make sure that if you are adding calories, you are choosing healthy food items to increase your intake of - fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and dairy options. Keep up on activity during this trimester as well. As you increase in size, some activities can be challenging but do what you can and try not to become a couch potato.
- "Pregnancy cravings are a thing" Now this is a comment that causes a lot of contention among people. I think that lots of time, people use this myth as an excuse for their excessive weight gain. We, as people, have cravings and have foods that we really love. For example, I got some Albanese gummie bears and they are weak spot for me. I love them and I could sit and eat the whole package. I know this though and I choose most of the time not to buy these "trigger foods." It is not that I am pregnant that I want them, it is because I find them delicious and I have always had a weak spot for them. I have also had certain foods that during pregnancy sound more appetizing than others. I have really grown to LOVE bacon recently. Again, I don't think that this is a craving or a food item that I eat excessively. I think that mindful eating and maintain moderation is the key to success in life and in pregnancy.
- "Your baby will get whatever nutrients it needs from you, so what you eat doesn't matter" There is a grain of truth to this myth. Your baby needs certain nutrients and if you are not eating a well-balanced diet, the infant will try to obtain these missing nutrients from your body. Calcium is a great example - if you aren't consuming enough dietary calcium, your unborn baby will start to pull calcium from your own bones to meet their growth needs. Now with that said, your diet as the mother, if very important. You need to maintain your own health and meet the needs of your growing child. What you eat has a huge role to play on your child's overall health (in utero and after they are born).
For more information about maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy, check out the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. One of the biggest challenges for pregnant women is to maintain a healthy weight. This has a huge impact on their own pregnancy and their infant's health. Take the time to make this a priority and if you have additional questions, let me know!