Top 5 pregnancy diet myths

Top 5 pregnancy diet myths

Being pregnant comes with a variety of challenges. But in addition to the obvious obstacles, many pregnant women also struggle with comments on their physical appearance. And on top of those comments, many also say they receive unsolicited advice from friends, family and even coworkers on how they should eat for nine months. This advice can not only be frustrating, but also may be confusing, as oftentimes, the various sources of information are conflicting.

Dr. Jamilah Okoe, OBGYN at Advocate Sherman Hospital regularly assists pregnant clients with their dietary needs during their pregnancy.

“Dietary and fitness issues are a valid concern when one is pregnant,” says Dr. Okoe. “Especially when it concerns obesity and the higher complication rate to mother and baby such as early miscarriages, gestational diabetes, and hypertension.”

So what’s fact and what’s fiction when it comes to the dos and don’ts for pregnant nutrition? Dr. Okoe shares the top five myths she hears from her patients.

You’re eating for two now, so you can eat whatever you want.

TRUTH: You do not need extra calories until your second trimester, and even then, it is only an additional 300 calories and 450 calories for the third trimester. Avoid foods high in sugar and sodium and balance your plate with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low fat-dairy.

Keep fish off of your plate.

TRUTH: Fish is a nutrient-dense source of protein, and up to 12 oz is recommended. However, avoid fish like shark, mackerel, swordfish, and tilefish, which usually contain high levels of mercury.

Don’t sweat it.

TRUTH: Staying active during pregnancy helps you feel better, manage your stress, may shorten the duration of labor, and can help you get back into shape post-partum. As a general rule, it is recommended to be active 30 minutes a day.

All pregnant women have cravings.

TRUTH: Not all women have cravings like the often depicted pickles and ice cream. Food cravings can be helpful to tell you what your body needs. If you crave pickles, you may be sodium deficient, or if you want ice cream, your body might be needing calcium or fat. Listen to your body.

I have to drink milk to produce milk.

TRUTH: The amount of milk your body produces is influenced by the amount of time your baby nurses. The more your baby nurses, the more milk your body makes. It is important to drink plenty of fluids every day to keep your milk supply going so you don’t become dehydrated and produce less milk.

“I try to help my patients understand that their health choices pre and during pregnancy set the tone for this baby’s future health statistically,” Dr. Okoe says. “Ideally, it is good for both parents to have the discussion about their own health and weight loss to help reduce the risk in their future children.”

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  1. Dairy products, especially yogurt, are a great choice for pregnant women. Dairy products help meet increased protein and calcium needs. Probiotics may also help reduce the risk of complications. Also, whole eggs are incredibly nutritious and a great way to increase overall nutrient intake. They also contain choline, an essential nutrient for brain health and development.

About the Author

Jennifer Benson
Jennifer Benson

Jennifer Benson, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs for Advocate Aurora Health’s Provider, APC, and Nursing Communications team. She has 10+ years of community development and communication experience for non-profits in the Fox Valley area in Illinois. Outside of work you can find her planning the next adventure near water or rocks, re-organizing spaces, entertaining a needy cat, defaulting to curry or taco dinners, making healthy happen in all aspects of life, and growing green things wherever she can find room.