Pregnant women should NOT eat for two, period! It is sadly very common that when a woman is pregnant, friends and families urge her to go ahead and “indulge” or “eat for two”. I remember once attending a wedding and I was seated close to this pregnant lady, and she ate everything served. Of course, she was quick to defend herself about her excessive food consumption because she was “pregnant.” There’s nothing she didn’t eat: Small chops, roasted fish, rice, moimoi, ofada rice, etc.
Unfortunately when you begin to look at the evidence, “eating for two” doesn’t seem to help mother or child. Instead, you increase the risk of:
- Gestational diabetes
- High blood pressure
- A cesarean-section birth because the baby is too large
“That is an old myth. Many women who do ‘eat for two’ end up gaining an excessive amount of weight. If you put on too much weight during pregnancy, you increase your risk of gestational diabetes, backaches, high blood pressure, and needing a cesarean birth because your baby is very large. Conversely, gaining too little weight during pregnancy is a concern. It can lead to low birth weight, premature delivery, and, later, developmental delays, learning disabilities, and chronic health problems in your baby.” says Julie Redfern, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston
In one sense, nutritionally, you are eating for two. Your baby is totally dependent on you for getting enough vitamins and nutrients to have a good start in life. As far as the amount of food you eat, you are NOT eating for two. Please always remember that it is not the quantity you eat during pregnancy that is important, it is the QUALITY.
- Plan meals and snacks based on the requirements for your health and advice from your doctor, not what the Internet says
- Eat a variety of foods. For vegetables, look for different colors, types, and textures.
- Try to minimize foods that have calories but few nutrients e.g sugary beverages, fried foods, foods with extra fat and sugar. Instead, go for foods like yogurt, nuts, a hard-boiled egg, some fresh fruits or vegetables
- Eat fats, oils, and sweets sparingly, and be sure to choose healthy fats