If you are pregnant, you’ve no doubt heard the saying: “You’re eating for two now.” In a way, it’s true. What you eat and drink will directly affect your growing baby, so it is important to be mindful of what you consume. (See our article on what foods to avoid during pregnancy).
Where the “eating for two” saying can get you into trouble, however, is thinking pregnancy gives you license to eat twice the calories.
Depending on your pre-pregnancy weight, you might be surprised how few extra calories it takes to make a baby. If you started at a “normal” BMI prior to pregnancy, weight gain should be slow in the first trimester — about five pounds total. That’s an average of 150-200 extra calories per day, or the equivalent of half an apple and a tablespoon of peanut butter. In the second trimester, when you start gaining about half a pound to a pound a week, you’ll only need 300-400 extra calories per day — the equivalent of a cup of plain yogurt, ½ cup of pineapple and an ounce of almonds.
The bottom line: You should think about eating for two, but in terms of quality, not quantity. Get the most bang for your calorie buck by including more fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds in your diet. Avoid fast foods, processed foods, and added sugar. Also be mindful of what you drink. Sugar-sweetened beverages (vitamin water, sports drinks, sweet tea, hot chocolate and coffee drinks) — even fruit juice — can quickly add up to consuming too many empty calories.