Eating During Pregnancy Doesn't Mean Double Meals

Filed under: Just For Moms, Your Pregnancy, Mealtime

eating during pregnancy

Cookies? Yum, but fresh fruit is a better option during pregnancy. Credit: Getty Images

Sure, you can eat more when you are pregnant. But don't think you are eating for two, despite the time-worn axiom.

With all the cravings and anxiety that come with pregnancy, it's easy to get carried away. But gaining too much weight can be harmful for you and your baby, doctors and nutrition experts agree.

Under the current guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy, women are now advised to gain less overall weight, says Dr. Jeffery King, director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and General Obstetrics at the University of Louisville in Kentucky.

During pregnancy, you only need an average of 300 to 400 extra calories per day until the baby is born, King tells ParentDish. That's about the equivalent of a bowl of puffed grain cereal with skim milk and some dried fruit -- not an entire eggs, bacon and hash browns breakfast.

Pick foods that are lower in calories with a high health benefit. Low fat dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables, certain kinds of fish, nuts, seeds and whole grains such as popcorn or oatmeal are all good choices for your diet during pregnancy, says Elisa Zied, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

"I do think, in terms of nutrition, you can still think in terms of eating for two, but not as far as calories," she tells ParentDish. "You want to gain weight, but it shouldn't be at an alarming rate."

Gaining too much weight can lead to gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and complications at delivery that may necessitate a cesarean section, King says.

"Women should be in a state of health before, during and after the pregnancy," he says.

Eating a wide variety of foods gives you the best chance of getting the proper nutrients for yourself and the baby.

"Eat a well-balanced diet that covers all the food groups," he tells ParentDish. And be sure to take your prenatal vitamins, too.

Pick and chose where you want to cut back, Zied suggests. If you want ice cream, skip the high fat milk in your coffee. Or, if you want a fruit yogurt, skip the cookies that day. Eating lots of junk food, such as cookies, candy and chips, deprives you of the extra nutrition you need during pregnancy for you and your baby.

"A lot of pregnant women think 'I can eat as much as I want,' " Ruth Frechman, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, tells ParentDish. "You want to have a normal weight gain."

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