“Go ahead, have some more. You’re eating for two.”
It’s a line most pregnant women have probably heard more than once, but also a common misconception. The truth is, pregnancy is probably the only time when weight gain is socially acceptable, but if you’re not careful, that gain can go well beyond the recommended 25-35 pounds.* Even at full term however, your baby still does not need the same amount of calories as an adult. So if you want to stay on track for a healthy gain, drown out the voices that are encouraging you to use pregnancy as an excuse to eat whatever you want, whenever you want, and stick to these guidelines.
First Trimester: No Extra Calories
At this point, many women have trouble keeping food down in the first place, so excessive eating is less of an issue. If you can eat without trouble, be mindful of your choices and aim for small meals throughout the day instead of three large ones to keep your metabolism going. But, when greasy, not-so-good-for-you foods are calling your name, try to find a healthier compromise. Craving fried chicken? Consider coconut crusted chicken instead. ‘Bread’ your chicken breasts in shredded, unsweetened coconut, and prepare them in coconut oil. You’ll still get the crunch you’re craving, not to mention a serving of healthy fat.
Second Trimester: 300 Extra Calories
An extra 300 calories may seem like a lot, but it’s really not. And all calories are not created equal. A cup of sugary cereal with milk has roughly 300 calories, as does an apple with two tablespoons of raw almond butter. Both are relatively small additions to your overall daily diet, and have drastically different effects on a mommy-to-be. The sugar cereal gives a quick spike in energy, followed by a crash while the apple and almond butter are packed with nutrients and keep you feeling satisfied.
Third Trimester: 300 Extra Calories
While your belly is still growing, your calorie intake should not be. An extra 300 per day is still all that’s needed. But continue to use those calories wisely, because with exhaustion setting in so easily again, you’ll need to source energy from as many places as possible. At this point, you may find yourself feeling hungry more often – especially if you’re up earlier in the day due to insomnia – so breaking those calories up into two extra snacks can be a wise strategy. For example, choose a small greek yogurt for one snack and a piece of whole wheat toast topped with hummus and sliced tomatoes for another.
Remember, it’s healthier for your baby (and you!) if you’re eating clean most of the time versus reaching for a pint of ice cream each night. So maybe you are eating for two after all…just not in the way you may think.
*According to the Mayo Clinic; based on a woman who was of normal weight prior to getting pregnant.