Pregnancy nutrition myths debunked

Thanks to the media or even our well-meaning family and friends, we are surrounded by myths regarding health, pregnancy, delivery and childbearing. This make it very hard to discern fact from fiction, especially if you are a first-time mom. Knowing that these myths can place stress on expecting mothers, we gathered some of the most common misconceptions about pregnancy and provide the accurate facts.

Myth: During pregnancy, you should eat twice as much.

Fact: Although nutrient needs do increase, the total calorie increment is only of 300 calories per day during the second trimester, and 500 calories per day during the third. While caloric intake may vary from woman to woman, you should never eat double the amount you used to eat.

Myth: Gaining less weight during pregnancy will make delivery easier.

Fact: Excess weight gain during pregnancy can put a strain during delivery. However, not gaining enough weight is very dangerous for the developing baby. During pregnancy, your baby needs lots of energy and nutrients to develop properly. Being pregnant is never a time to diet or lose weight.

Myth: If a pregnant woman eats a healthy diet during pregnancy she will be exempt from the discomforts of pregnancy.

Fact: Although eating a healthy diet does reduce discomfort and provide the best nutrition for you and your baby, nausea, constipation and heartburn do not discriminate and can happen to even the healthiest woman. Nevertheless, eating healthy, drinking plenty of water and exercising moderately will definitely help diminish those pesky symptoms.

Myth: cut out all salt, it will make you swell up.

Fact: During pregnancy sodium intakes remain the same. Try to keep it below the recommended 1500 mg a day but remember that some swelling is normal. Sodium is an electrolyte and therefore an essential nutrient. Just be sure to salt your food after you taste it to avoid exceeding the daily recommended amount and try to avoid processed food which tend to be very high in sodium.

Myth: You must eat a low-fat diet to avoid gaining fat during pregnancy.

Fact: Healthy fats like the ones you find in avocado, olive oil and nuts are excellent sources of unsaturated fats. They provide the body with nutrients and serve as carriers for fat soluble vitamins. Eating fat does not make one fat. Eating excess calories from whatever source (proteins, carbohydrates or fats) results in weight gain and fat storage. But if you eat a balanced diet, no food groups should ever be avoided. Besides, healthy weight gain and fat storage during pregnancy is important for labor and lactation.

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