Published on August 26, 2021

Eating for Two

Pregnant woman with healthy food

Is it true that you are “eating for two” when pregnant?

It’s true you have more energy and nutrient requirements, but you aren’t eating for two full-grown humans. You really don’t need more calories until the second trimester. At that point, you will need an extra 300 calories per day; 450 extra calories in the third trimester.

What foods should I eat while I am pregnant?

A variety of nutrients from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean dairy and protein sources are important to support the growth and development of baby. It is important to get adequate nutrients – folate, iron and calcium.

  • Spinach, broccoli, avocado, lentils and asparagus are high in folate.
  • Meat, poultry and eggs are the best sources of iron. Improve iron absorption by eating sources of vitamin C such as bell peppers, citrus fruit, tomatoes and leafy green veggies along with your iron sources.
  • Include dairy, leafy greens or broccoli for calcium.

The key is to include a variety of nutrients from different fruit and vegetables, whole grains and dairy. Make sure you eat lean protein with each meal to support the baby's growth. You need more water during pregnancy, and water is important to your growing baby. Aim for at least 10 cups or 2.4 liters per day.

Be sure to limit excess sugar and fat from sugary beverages, sweets and fried foods. Avoid dieting in a way that eliminates complete food groups like a low carb diet or other fat diets.

Should I avoid certain foods while pregnant?

  • Under cooked meats – listeria
  • Deli meats – bacteria
  • Smoked seafood/raw shellfish – listeria
  • Raw eggs, including the cookie dough!
  • Soft cheeses - listeria
  • Unwashed produce

When in doubt, clean it well and cook it.

What about caffeine during pregnancy?

Too much caffeine during pregnancy can lead to irritability and insomnia, and cause low birth weight in baby. Caffeine is also dehydrating, so it can lead to dehydration at a time when you have increased fluid needs.

Limit caffeine to no more than 200mg total daily, which is equivalent to one to two (8 oz.) cups of coffee daily.

What about weight gain?

Healthy weight gain should be about 25-30 pounds for individuals who start their pregnancy at a healthy weight. Gaining more than recommended can increase risks for complications, a Cesarean delivery or a large baby with increased occurrence of childhood obesity.

What can I do about morning sickness?

Morning sickness is common, but these tips can help:

  • Eat small, frequent meals consistently
  • Avoid skipping meals or going a long time without food
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Limit greasy, fried foods
  • Get plenty of rest

What should I eat if I have gestational diabetes?

Don't eliminate carbohydrates altogether. Choose carbohydrate sources with the highest fiber and nutrients--beans, peas, fruits and veggies with the skin, and whole grains. Fiber helps stabilize blood sugar spikes or drops. Try to pair high fiber carbohydrates with protein to improve glucose control. Limit added sugars such as sweets, sugary beverages and snack foods. Increase water intake and try to stay active.

While it's true you have more energy and nutrient requirements, you aren’t eating for two full-grown humans.