If you’re pregnant, you’ve probably already experienced an avalanche of advice coming your way from all directions. Everyone will tell you what a pregnant woman should and shouldn’t eat with opinions raging from reasonable to outright bizarre. Here are some of the most common myths about pregnancy diet that I’ve come across.
1. You need to eat for two
We’ve all heard it and some of us (myself included) have used it as an excuse to supersize our meals, but there’s very little truth in it. Your needs in terms of calories do not change until the second trimester and even then you only need about 300 extra calories a day. Far more important than increasing the amount you eat is making sure that you have a well-balanced diet that provides all the nutrients you and your baby need.
2. All fish is bad for you during pregnancy
You do need to be careful how much and what kind of fish you eat during pregnancy, because of potentially high mercury levels that can harm your baby. However, it’s not advisable to avoid fish altogether. Fish is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for your baby’s brain development.
3. You shouldn’t eat tree nuts and peanuts or your baby will be allergic to them
I heard this more times that I could count when I was pregnant and reaching for nuts. I’m pleased to report that, in spite of my love for nuts, none of my three children is allergic to them. Current research confirms that eating nuts while pregnant doesn’t increase your baby’s risk of food allergies. In fact, nuts can be a good source of protein, fibre, iron, calcium and folate, which makes them a great healthy snack during pregnancy.
4. If you eat a bit less, your baby will take some of your fat
Your baby needs protein to grow and fat can’t be turned into protein. If you don’t eat enough, your body will be breaking down your muscle tissue, not using up your fat. I can certainly testify to that – I ate very little (not because I was dieting, but because I had ‘morning’ sickness almost the whole time) and while I returned to my pre-pregnancy weight just a few days after the birth, I also felt weak, tired and unfit for months.
5. You need to eat red meat
You need extra iron and protein while you’re pregnant, but it doesn’t have to come from meat. Good sources of protein include nuts, seeds and legumes. Iron can be found in green leafy vegetables, nuts and legumes, such as soy beans and chickpeas. A healthy vegetarian diet while pregnant is possible and there’s no reason to start eating meat if you don’t want to.
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