Do you really need to eat for two when you’re pregnant

Pregnant womanYou’ve heard it hundreds of times – pregnant women saying, “I’m eating for two!” The age-old wisdom that pregnant women need to double their intake of food is so prevalent to have become standard practice for most women going through pregnancy.

But contrary to this folksy wisdom, most medical professionals will tell you that literally eating for two might be a bit excessive when it comes to caloric intake. Though your body will need a higher number of calories to nourish both you and your baby while you’re pregnant, double is far beyond what you’ll actually need.

According to the US government’s Women’s Health program, here are the dietary guidelines you should follow while you’re pregnant:

  • Do increase caloric intake: Eat an extra 300 calories every day. Since the average female should consume approximately 2,200 to 2,400 calories daily, that means while you’re pregnant, you could consume between 2,500 and 2,700 calories.
  • Don’t restrict: Your baby needs the right amounts of protein, minerals, and vitamins in order to properly develop while in the womb and so you shouldn’t cut a single type of food completely out of your diet. Low-calorie diets in particular can be harmful to baby as they result in the production of ketones which can cause a child to be born with developmental delays.
  • Get variety, variety, variety: Just like when you’re not pregnant, you should eat a wide variety of foods while you are pregnant in order to ensure that you’re taking in all of the building blocks your baby needs to grow healthy and strong.
  • 7+ serving of fruits and vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, strawberries, melons, and leafy greens. Fruits and veggies are packed with fiber, minerals, and vitamins C, A, and B, as well as iron and folate.
  • 6-9 servings of whole grains, including brown rice, whole-grain pasta, sprouted breads, and whole-grain cereals. These help you get enough folic acid, B vitamins, iron, and fiber, as well as other minerals.
  • 4+ servings of dairy products, like low-fat milk and cheese. These are especially important for you to consume enough calcium, protein, and vitamins A, D, and B (various) so that your baby is born with strong bones and teeth.
  • 60+ grams of protein (10 grams more than a non-pregnant woman), which can include tofu, beans, legumes, whole grains, peas, fish, and meat. Just be sure to properly and fully cook any animal proteins you consume to prevent the intake of harmful organisms and bacteria.

The moral of the story is that a healthy pregnancy diet is one that has a slight increase of calories but more importantly a proper balance of nutrients. In the end, a normal pregnancy will result in a weight gain somewhere between 25 to 35 pounds, most of which goes into things like your baby’s weight, extra blood, breast enlargement, uterine enlargement, amniotic fluid, the placenta, body fluids, and extra stored protein.

Georgie is an active blogger in her 30’s and interested in the areas of woman’s health and children’s diets; she is currently doing her thesis on healthy eating and the healthy and active best way to lose weight.

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