Eating for 1.2: Why Eating for Two is a Myth
During pregnancy, how many of you have heard that line time and again? How many of you have said it yourself? Your body goes to incredible lengths to provide nourishment for your fetus: your metabolism increases substantially, your blood volume increases, along with tissue in your breasts and uterus. These changes cause inevitable weight gain (some doctors say a typical weight gain during pregnancy is about 25 to 30 pounds: three to five in the first trimester and 10 to 12 during both the third and fourth.)
Because your body is gaining weight, it’s logical to buy in to the concept of eating for two. After all, if you’re going to gain weight anyway, you might as well enjoy yourself, right? Researchers from the University of Alberta are attempting to dispel the myth of “eating for two” – in fact, it’s more like eating for 1.2! Researchers found that more than 60 percent of pregnant mothers gain more weight than is recommended, partially because of the “eat for two” notion.
Researchers found that more than 60 percent of pregnant mothers gain more weight than is recommended, partially because of the “eat for two” notion.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, an increase in calorie consumption during pregnancy is necessary, but far less than many women think. Calorie counts are dependent on the average weight before pregnancy and how much physical activity a pregnant mom is getting, but generally should be around 2,200 to 2,900 per day. A gradual increase in calories is ideal – 300 additional calories during the second trimester and 450 during the third (oh, and by the way, you don’t need any additional calories during your first trimester!) More important than calories, though, is a balance of the right type of vitamins and nutrients you get from foods.
This study hits home for me personally, as I gained far too much weight during my first pregnancy and struggled to get it off after I had my son. I tipped the scale at an extra 80 pounds on my five-foot-two frame. Breastfeeding after baby helped, but my extra weight made me feel sluggish; I couldn’t find the energy to exercise after working a full day and taking care of my new baby, so the weight hung around for at least a year.
When I became pregnant this time, I committed myself to a healthier lifestyle – and that started with kicking the “eating for two” notion to the curb. A small change in my mindset, along with choosing higher protein, lower fat foods and continuing to walk 30 minutes a day, has helped me keep my weight gain to a healthy level. I feel better all around: I have more energy, I have less swelling and I’m not constantly hungry like I was with my first child.
I want to stress to other moms out there, especially if it’s your first pregnancy, that healthy eating may be more of a challenge during pregnancy than it ever was before. I still have my moments – I’m not one to turn down a scoop of ice cream or an extra cookie or two – but keeping a ratio of more good food than “bad foods” can help you maintain a healthier level and get the weight off faster after baby. Here are a few tips for maintaining a healthy weight that have worked for me the second time around:
- Focus on healthy snacks; always have plenty of vegetables, almonds, fruit, or yogurt on hand when you start feeling hungry.
- Add a little exercise into your day. I walk 30 minutes from my car to work, and that small amount has helped tremendously. You don’t’ have to walk fast – waddling is totally appropriate!
- Increase protein and cut carbs. I know, I know … I can hardly resist that big bowl of pasta, either, but I know I’ll feel sluggish and hungry soon after. Small amounts of pregnancy-safe fish, chicken, and pork are all great options, and don’t under estimate a big bowl of black bean soup when the weather gets cold.
- Drink more water. There are so many reasons this is a good idea, but in terms of maintaining a healthy weight, water can help fill you up and hydrate your body.
- If you’re hungry, EAT! This advice may seem counterintuitive, but keep in mind your metabolism is much faster during pregnancy, so your food will digest more quickly, leaving you feeling hungry between meals. Don’t feel like you need to “starve yourself” to stay in a certain calorie range.
Have you struggled with weight gain during pregnancy? What are some of your tips for maintaining a healthy weight gain while you are pregnant?