If I had a quarter for every time I’ve heard someone talk about eating for two during the past few months… Well, I still wouldn’t be rich, but my piggy bank would be feeling pretty hefty.
Given how many times I’ve heard it though, I thought this would be a good topic for discussion today. What exactly is this idea of eating for two? And how does it realistically fit with pregnancy nutrition? I’m going to lay out my thoughts on this topic, and I hope that you’ll chime in in the comments section, below!
Eating for Two: Does it really mean double?
Throughout pregnancy, there’s no doubt that your eating now serves a dual purpose. Not only are you eating to fuel your body through a grueling 9 (more like 10) months, but you’re also providing fuel and nourishment to another little human who is literally doubling in size every few weeks!
The thing is, while you are technically eating to feed two people, one of you is still very, very small (for most of your pregnancy) and does not have the same caloric requirements that you do. Bummer, I know. In fact, baby only requires an extra 300 calories per day in the second and third trimester (source).
What does 300 calories look like? A medium banana and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter. Half a cup of dried fruit and nut mix. One cup of cereal with a cup of skim milk. Not exactly the extra plate of dinner or third serving of dessert some of us might have been imagining. (Guilty!)
So while eating for two may not mean what you thought it did, this concept does still have a place in pregnancy nutrition.
Eating for Two = Nourishment for Two
Even though pregnant women don’t necessarily need to be eating more, it is important for us to be eating smarter. While our calorie needs may not have increased, our nutritional needs have.
How does one eat smarter during pregnancy? Going back to the good old food groups is a good place to start. Each group has its own benefits to both mom and baby. For example, protein is key for the growth of fetal tissue, including the brain, and plays a role in mom’s increasing blood supply. Calcium helps mom’s body regulate fluids and builds baby’s bones and tooth buds. Vitamin C will promote wound healing, and tooth and bone development. (Source) Keep in mind that these are just a few of the important nutrients during pregnancy.
Aside from reading labels, creating a colorful plate is an easy way to be sure that you’re feeding baby a lot of what he or she needs. Oranges and reds for Vitamin A (carrots, sweet potato, cantaloupe); dark, leafy greens for potassium, dietary fiber and folate (spinach, kale, broccoli); tans for fiber (whole wheat breads, cereal and pasta); white for calcium and Vitamin D (yogurt, milk, eggs). Making sure that each meal is packed with as many nutritious options as possible, supplementing with snacks and vitamins, is my idea of what eating for two really means during pregnancy.
Over the past 6 (almost 7) months of pregnancy, thinking of eating for two in this way has helped me to make better choices about what’s going on my plate. Sure, some days I probably go past the 300 calorie rule (I’m not counting calories), but I know that I’ve done my best to make sure that baby is getting what he or she needs to grow and thrive. And for the most part, I feel that throwing out the eating for two ‘myth’ and keeping my portions in check has helped me to feel better throughout pregnancy.
So now that I’ve gotten my theory out there, it’s your turn! What you think about the eating for two idea?
PS… if you enjoyed this post, you might also like these 5 tips on staying healthy while you’re pregnant & getting protein despite a meat aversion during pregnancy