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‘Eating for two’ during pregnancy? Know all the perks and quirks right here

Published on:14 September 2021, 18:12pm IST
There are many expectant mothers who believe that eating twice the amount of food is essential to fulfil the nutritional needs of both the mother and baby. But is this true?
Geetika Sachdev
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healthy eating during pregnancy
You MUST practise healthy eating during pregnancy. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Pregnancy is not easy in any way — for one, a woman’s body undergoes several changes. Some are hard, some are not-so-much. And while she navigates this new terrain (there are different challenges every single time), there is a flurry of advice that she receives from the world —  right from her mother, in-laws, office colleagues, friends to even the nosy neighbour. Unfortunately, that’s sure to make her mind go into a tizzy. 

And not only does it add to the confusion, it also brews up this whole bubble of myths. However baseless may be the ‘advice’ (or myth), expectant mothers are ‘supposed’ to follow it — because well, everybody else knows what’s good for maa aur bachche ki sehat, except for her. If you or someone you know has been on this rollercoaster journey, we are sure you must have heard of the concept of ‘eating for two’. 

It is often believed that pregnant women must eat much more than their capacity (or rather for two people), because well, the baby needs food too! Bollywood’s hot mum Kareena Kapoor Khan, who is also the author of Kareena Kapoor Khan’s Pregnancy Bible: The ultimate manual for moms-to-be, has shared her views on the subject, in her recent Instagram post.

Eating for two and not one comes with its own challenges and perks…What did you include in your pregnancy diet?,” she writes.

But is this really true? Does it hold any relevance? Or should we just squash this myth right here, right now?

Eating for two just SOUNDS cute, it isn’t

Yes we know, it sounds oh-so-adorable! And probably that’s the reason you may really think it’s true — because why would you want to leave your baby starving, right? Please open your eyes right now, or believe facts. According to the National Academy of Sciences, expectant mothers only need an extra 100 calories/day during their first trimester, and an extra 300 calories/day during the second and third trimesters. 

Moreover, this myth might just make you more complacent, and make you believe that overeating is ‘normal’. It’s then but natural for you to reach out for all the wrong foods, because hey, you think you’ve got the license to eat anything and everything (plus no restrictions on the quantity). Do not do this at any cost, because sudden weight gain can really harm you and your baby. 

healthy eating during pregnancy
Watch what you eat when you’re pregnant. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

“You may end up eating for two during pregnancy. But, don’t indulge in the wrong foods or have high-calorie foods. The weight gain process needs to be gradual throughout your pregnancy, as sudden weight gain can raise your blood pressure or gestational diabetes. Eat smaller meals instead of larger ones. Eating for two is actually a myth. So, opt for only an extra 300 calories each day,” says Dr Surabhi Siddhartha, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Motherhood hospital, Kharghar.

The quirks of eating for two

When pregnant women eat too much, they gain oodles of weight and the baby is born bigger. Thus, being oversized can increase the baby’s chances of heart disease and obesity. The extra weight can be troublesome for women and invite many health conditions. Women who are overweight during pregnancy have higher chances of having miscarriages,” adds Dr Sidhhartha. 

In fact, research shows that pregnant women often feel better when they consume several small meals a day, instead of eating a few large ones. Moving the body is equally important, but in moderation.  The weight gain is largely due to the growth of the baby, so it’s important not to be obsessed with the scale. The focus should be on taking care of yourself and the baby in the right manner. 

Is there any diet that expectant mothers should follow?

Dr Sidhhartha believes that a healthy diet must consist of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and enough water. Expectant mothers must pay attention to fulfil their requirement of iron through beans, raisins, apricots, and lentils. 

healthy eating during pregnancy
A well-balanced diet will give you a happy pregnancy. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

“Go for calcium – have yogurt, milk and leafy greens. Include enough vitamins in your diet – vitamin A is essential for healthy skin, eyesight, and bone growth. So,  eat a lot of carrots, eggs, and sweet potatoes. Vitamin C will help you enhance your dental health. So, opt for blackcurrants and strawberries. Other important food sources are whole-grain cereals, bananas, peas, apples,  and legumes,” she advises.

Don’t forget to have folic acid that reduces the risk of neural tube defects in babies. You can also take the folic acid supplement, as suggested by your doctor. 

“Moreover, it is imperative for you to avoid smoking, alcohol, and caffeine. Bid adieu to processed, junk, oily, spicy, sugar-laden, and canned foods.  You need to limit the intake of sodas, juices, and other carbonated beverages. Say NO to raw eggs, fish, and meat,” concludes Dr Sidhhartha.

Geetika Sachdev Geetika Sachdev

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town.