Eating for Two

"I'm eating for two!" For some women, this becomes a rallying cry when they’re pregnant—and it can be a great excuse when you really, really want that second dessert or third cheeseburger. But what does “eating for two” actually mean? Should you double your calories until baby arrives? Well, no. (Sorry.)

How much do you really need to eat while pregnant?

During pregnancy, you’ll need to eat about 300 extra calories each day. Remember that these should be healthy calories, not junk food—after all, you’re not just nourishing your own body these days. To give you an idea, the following snacks provide about 300 calories:

  • Half a sandwich and a glass of skim milk
  • Two pieces of string cheese and an apple
  • A bowl of cereal with milk
  • One whole-grain bagel spread with nut butter
  • A half cup of hummus and 20 baby carrots

Why can’t I just eat as much as I want?

The thought of being able to gain as much weight as we want without anyone judging us can be really attractive during pregnancy, but it’s not healthy for mom or baby. Gaining too much weight can put you at greater risk for:

  • Gestational diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Unplanned C-section
  • Lifelong obesity, and the health problems that go along with it

What if I’ve already gained more weight than is recommended?

To be clear, you should never try to lose weight while you’re pregnant—and we’re not here to shame you for that extra milkshake! If you’ve found yourself gaining weight more rapidly than your doctor recommends, then now is the time to make an effort to get back on track. Rein in your portion sizes, and stick to the 300 or so extra calories from here on out.