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By the end of a pregnancy, women on average gain between 25-35 pounds of weight. Some women feel that during this time they can eat as much as they want and not feel guilty for overindulging. After all, you are eating for two, right?
Stop right there!
The saying that ‘you are eating for two’ when pregnant is an age-old myth. While pregnant, women can absorb more of the nutrients from the foods they are eating. So, eating more food will only double the chances of suffering from pregnancy complications. In fact, studies show that women who do ‘eat for two’ end up gaining an excessive amount of weight and increase their risk of developing gestational diabetes, backaches and high blood pressure.
Also, women who don’t eat enough run the risk of having babies born at a low birth rate and infants who are more prone to health problems, so it’s important to eat balanced meals.
In general, when a woman is pregnant she should consume more nutritious foods to keep her baby healthy. However, she should make sure not to overdo it. Here is a breakdown of how many additional calories should be consumed during each trimester:
- First trimester: no additional calories are needed if at a healthy weight.
- Second trimester: an additional 340 calories per day. (Equivalent to two eggs, two strips of bacon one piece of toast with a small apple)
- Third trimester: 450 more calories a day. (Equivalent to a bowl of quinoa mixed with fruits, nuts and herbs)
What are some foods a pregnant woman should consume?
- Pregnant women should consume their recommended daily amount of protein, calories, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and key vitamins and minerals during pregnancy. They should also remember to eat a variety of foods.
- Minimize sugary beverages, fried foods, foods with extra fat and sugar. Opt for food items that have the most nutritional count like yogurt, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Choose foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Pick whole-grain bread or brown rice over refined white bread or white rice, and fresh fruits or frozen unsweetened fruit over canned fruits in sugar syrup, for example.
What to stay away from:
- Pregnant women are at a higher risk of suffering from food-borne illnesses since their immune system is suppressed during this time. It important to stay away from the following foods:
- Raw or undercooked meats and fish like sushi
- Mexican soft cheeses and varieties such as brie and camembert
- Deli meats
- Hot dogs
- Unpasteurized milk products or juices
For additional information on what foods you should be consuming and how much of it, please contact your physician.
Content reviewed by Yen Tran, MD, MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center