Mythbusters: "Eating for two"

We've all heard it. Many of us have even said it. 

"You're eating for two, now."

Ladies, I hate to be the one to tell you, but it's a complete lie. We want to believe it. Because as women, many of us have been on some kind of diet since middle school. We've been conditioned to be careful about what we eat and we're tired of it.

But when you're pregnant - ahhhhhhh! It's an excuse to relax a little. You're SUPPOSED to gain weight. But getting into the mindset that you're eating for two can do more harm than good.

Gaining too much weight during pregnancy can cause all kinds of unwanted issues:

  • general discomfort - an aching back, leg pains, exhaustion, joint pain, heart burn
  • mom's health - gestational diabetes, preeclampsia
  • baby's health - increased chance of obesity later in life
  • delivery complications - c-section, episiotomy, bruised tailbone

This isn't meant to be a scare tactic, of course none of those are guaranteed. But it's good to know what the potential issues are.

So how much more should you be eating? And how much weight should you gain? 

A lot depends on your pre-pregnancy weight. If you start at a normal weight, aim to gain 25-35 pounds during pregnancy. If you were overweight, about 15-25 pounds and if you were obese, 11-20 pounds. 

Where do these numbers come from? Knowing that it takes about 90,000 calories to grow a baby. Crazy, right? In a perfect world, it would breakdown like this across your pregnancy:

  • 1st trimester - no extra calories, which is nice because so many suffer from nausea that finding anything that sounds appealing or keeping food down is a small miracle
  • 2nd trimester - about 340 extra calories, which might look like an apple, small handful of almonds and a glass of milk
  • 3rd trimester - about 450 extra calories, which might look like adding an orange to breakfast, 1 oz dark chocolate after lunch, and a whole wheat roll dipped in 1 Tbs olive oil at dinner

Another major benefit to not eating for two? You don't have to lose weight you never gained. You're more likely to get into those pre-pregnancy clothes sooner!

What other pregnancy and nutrition myths have you heard?


Katie Goldberg

Katie Goldberg, MCN, RDN, LDN, has been a registered dietitian since 2013, but has always had a passion for good food and a healthy lifestyle. Katie earned her Master’s of Clinical Nutrition from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and has worked in private practice, higher education, in a clinical setting, and as an in-house dietitian for a food company. Whether it's at through large groups or one-on-one, Katie enjoys connecting people with easy and practical solutions for better health.