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A nutritionist busts 8 myths about foods to eat and avoid during pregnancy

There are multiple myths around what foods to eat and avoid during pregnancy. Hence, we spoke to a nutritionist about the right pregnancy diet.
pregnancy tips
Besides exercising during pregnancy, you should also eat right. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Grace Bains Updated: 7 Jun 2021, 10:19 am IST
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Pregnancy is a very special phase in a woman’s life, a beautiful journey. As exciting as it is, it also brings with it anxiety and nervousness. We know that people around us have unlimited advice so it becomes tough with assimilating and digesting information and putting it to good use. To gain important insights into the importance of nutritious food for expectant mothers and to bust some myths around the foods they can eat or avoid, we spoke to Dr Meghana Pasi, a Nutrition expert with Arogya World’s My Thali program.

Importance of maternal nutrition

Dr Meghana conveyed to us that nutrition happens to be a key factor in ensuring the good health of both the mother and the child. She said, “Pregnancy takes a toll on the body and therefore, good nutrition is required due to increased maternal metabolism and to provide fetal nutrition. Moreover, after the child is born, all the attention is challenged towards the infant. This may lead to nutritional deficiencies developing in the mother and hence, for mothers to eat a balanced diet, is a requisite both during and post-pregnancy.”

pregnancy nutrition
Don’t believe the myths you hear about pregnancy nutrition! Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Busting myths around food for pregnant women

We, however, cannot negate that there are multiple myths about what mothers should and should not eat. This can create confusion and lead to nervousness in expecting mothers. Hence, it is important to combat misinformation and myths. Dr Meghana busted 8 myths about food for pregnant women:

Myth 1: A pregnant woman needs to eat for two

This is one of the most common things a pregnant woman hears but it is a myth! Dr Meghana said, “Requirements for calories should be taken into account for expectant mothers. For a sedentary woman, 1700 calories per day is the outer limit. Therefore, an additional 350 calories per day would ensure optimal and gradual weight gain. You may consider having 5 to 6 small meals throughout the day which are full of proteins, good fats and complex carbohydrates. Eating the double of what you usually consume is not a healthy practice.”

pregnancy nutrition
Moms-to-be, eat right! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Myth 2: Follow a restrictive diet to keep yourself in shape

Pregnancy is not the ideal time to experiment with diets or restrict the number of calories consumed. Just like you should not exceed a healthy calorie count, you should also not let the number of calories decrease to avoid drastic weight gain. Dr Meghana recommends “Having wholesome and well-balanced meals without worrying about weight gain. On average, a woman will gain about 10 kgs during pregnancy. That is absolutely normal! Starving oneself can cause complications with the pregnancy and adversely impact the health of both the child and the mother. So, it is about practising moderation.”

Myth 3: Certain foods cause miscarriage

Many believe that foods, such as papayas, dry fruits, pineapples, oranges and curd, can cause miscarriage. This is, however, not true. According to Dr Meghana, “There is no reason to abstain from these foods. In fact, fruits and nuts are particularly nutritious for mothers-to-be due to the presence of essential vitamins. Many also believe that fruits that contain vitamin C can lead to miscarriage but consuming oranges, mangoes and papaya can facilitate better digestion and boost immunity levels.”

Myth 4: Avoid caffeine completely during your pregnancy

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There are some who believe caffeine can harm the development of the baby and hence, they believe pregnant women should stay away from tea or coffee. About caffeine intake, Dr Meghana said, “Drinking 5 to 6 cups of coffee or tea can definitely irritate the gut and cause discomfort but there’s no harm in having your morning cup of coffee or tea. In fact, you can have 1 to 2 cups of your preferred beverage. Caffeine does have antioxidants and immunity-boosting properties. Having ginger or masala chai can also calm the nausea in pregnant women. “

pregnancy diet
Food cravings during pregnancy aren’t all that bad if tackled correctly. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Myth 5: Having milk and peanut will make the baby allergic to these foods

Many pregnant women cut out milk and nuts from their diet because they assume consuming these could lead to lactose intolerance or a nut allergy in the baby. Dr Meghana clarifies that “There is no scientific evidence suggesting this. In fact, these foods are high in protein and can have a positive impact on the health of both the baby and the mother.”

Myth 6: Indigestion during pregnancy is normal

Yes, pregnancy is associated with indigestion and it is commonly experienced but it is a matter of concern. Dr Meghana explained “Taking care of your gut health is important as it will lead to better absorption of nutrients. So, pregnant or not, indigestion should not be ignored. To keep your digestion healthy, consider having pulses, legumes, and probiotics like curd.”

Myth 7: Fish and other seafood is not healthy

Actually, consuming fish can actually be healthy for pregnant women! Dr Meghana said, “Fish is rich in proteins and omega-3 fatty acids. Hence, it is actually pretty healthy, especially when you’re pregnant. But, you do need to keep in mind that it should not be contaminated by mercury and isn’t stale.”

Myth 8: Having meat is necessary during pregnancy

If you’re a vegetarian and have been worried about this, you need to relax. Dr Meghana explains, “Having meat is not necessary and there are various other protein sources that you can consume! So, you don’t have to force yourself to have non-vegetarian food. Instead, you can increase your consumption of curd, milk, cheese, and legumes.”

So, ladies, don’t believe the myths and eat nutritional meals to keep yourself and the baby healthy!

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About the Author

Grace is someone who likes writing enough to make a living out of it. When she isn’t writing, you will find her having chai and reading a book. ...Read More

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