Why ‘eating for two’ during pregnancy is a myth

Click to play video: 'Myths and truths: eating, nutrition, weight gain during pregnancy' Myths and truths: eating, nutrition, weight gain during pregnancy
WATCH: The saying "eating for two" has been around for ages, but following it can lead to an unhealthy pregnancy. Laurel Gregory has more on the myths and the truths of what pregnant women really need – Feb 4, 2020

Last summer Erica Matechuk and her husband got a lovely surprise: they were expecting their third child.

“It’s something that we talked about for years because I also have a six and an eight year old at home. When it happened, we were both really excited and we’ve embraced it.”

Matechuk figured she was pregnant with a girl. She was craving the same sweet, juicy fruit and whole grains she wanted when she was expecting her daughter. But the ultrasound revealed another surprise: it was a boy. He’s due to arrive in May.

While Matechuk hasn’t craved the salty snacks she did while expecting her eldest son, she does indulge in a burger and fries on occasion.

“Eighty per cent of the time, if I’m making mindful choices and eating balanced, then I can throw caution to the wind 20 per cent of the time.”

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That isn’t everyone’s approach. Even registered dietitian Desiree Nielsen admits she indulged during pregnancy.

“All of us grew up with this idea that in pregnancy you are eating for two, and believe me, I went through a few pints of ice cream stating that very fact.

“But it is a huge myth. While pregnant women need a lot of extra nutrients — vitamins, minerals and particularly protein — the caloric requirements, or the energy requirements, aren’t actually a lot greater.”

WATCH BELOW (June 1, 2018): When women are pregnant, they typically gain about 30 pounds. That wasn’t the case for one Edmonton mother who was so sick, she had to spend five months in hospital. Sarah Kraus has her story.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton mother lost weight during pregnancy due to illness' Edmonton mother lost weight during pregnancy due to illness
Edmonton mother lost weight during pregnancy due to illness – Jun 1, 2018

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, expecting women need extra calories in their second and third trimesters. The Sensible Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy suggests that one snack, like an apple with a piece of cheese, is often enough.

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READ MORE: Weight gain during pregnancy: What experts consider ‘normal’

Revive Wellness registered dietitian Loreen Wales advises women who want to have a baby, or are newly expecting, to meet with a registered dietitian to determine their “set point.”

“It’s all dependent on their age, how much they are exercising, those kinds of things,” Wales said. “Everybody’s pregnancy is different but it’s really important to know where they start and what the plan is.”

Wales says gaining too much weight over the course of pregnancy can lead to numerous health risks to mom and baby, including preeclampsia, diabetes and premature birth.

She says consulting a dietitian can help an expecting mother learn how much weight she should gain and prepare her to manage morning sickness and potential aversions to food.

READ MORE: 6 foods pregnant women should avoid

“Each pregnancy is different. Some women complain about nausea with the first pregnancy and none with the second pregnancy. Every one of them is a whole new experience so the more you know and the more you can plan for it, the more likely you are to have a really healthy, successful pregnancy and be satisfied with the number that the scale ends up being at the end of the pregnancy.”


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