Many women are unsure of just how much they should really be eating during those 9+ months.
It’s official—you’re pregnant. One of the first things you’ll probably tackle is changing up your diet. You already know that sushi is a no-go and your after-work wine will have to wait. But it turns out most women don’t really know much more than that when it comes to eating during those 9+ months. (Betcha didn’t know about these other healthy foods that are off-limits during pregnancy either.)
Some do a complete 180 from junk food to strictly clean eating. Others will do just the opposite, from watching their diet to letting loose, driven by the assumption that they will no longer be judged for weight gain.
While many women have strong feelings about what they should eat when pregnant, there seems to be some uncertainty abouthow much they should eat. More than two-thirds of pregnant women don’t know how many calories they should consume during pregnancy, according to results of a recent survey from the National Charity Partnership in the U.K.
What about the old cliché that women should be “eating for two”? While this strategy isn’t completely off-base—women should increase their calorie intake during pregnancy—the phrase itself is misleading because they certainly shouldn’t be doubling their diet. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests pregnant women in the “normal” BMI range increase their diet by about 300 calories a day. Plus, gaining too much weight can actually increase your risk for complications during pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes, says Peter S. Bernstein, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center.
However, ACOG’s suggested guideline isn’t a rigid rule, and pregnant women shouldn’t feel as if they have to start tracking their calories, says Dr. Bernstein. Instead, focus on eating real foods and maintaining a healthy diet. That means eating a balance of carbs, fats, and proteins, and opting for seafood that’s low in mercury, he says. Bottom line: Always consult your doctor for the best nutrition and diet strategy for you and your baby. But if you’re already eating healthy food and reasonable portions, there’s no need for a drastic change or a double order of sweet potato fries.