Debunking Scary Pregnancy Diet Myths
Pregnancy is confusing, scary, wonderful, and full of rules around what you can and can’t eat. There are so many things to consider! Fortunately, a lot of these rules are actually outdated myths that don’t quite apply to pregnancy today. It’s time to debunk these myths for good so you can worry less.
Should You Be Eating for Two?
First up, we have the classic expression, “eating for two.” Even though you’re growing another human inside of you, you definitely don’t want to “eat for two” during pregnancy! In fact, you don’t need to eat any extra calories during the first trimester. You do need to eat more as your pregnancy progresses, but it’s not all that much - you’ll need about 340 extra calories in the second trimester and 450 calories more during the third trimester. (1)
Cutting Out Coffee?
Coffee lovers rejoice! It turns out that you can in fact drink coffee during pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agrees that pregnant women can safely consume up to 200 mg of caffeine per day, which is about equivalent to a 12 oz cup of coffee (2). Nonetheless, consuming excess caffeine during pregnancy can be harmful to your baby, so you’ll definitely still need to cut back a little (or a lot) if you’re an avid caffeine drinker.
Is Sushi Off The Table?
When it comes to eating things like sushi (think: raw fish), there is a risk of consuming harmful pathogens for both you and baby, but studies show that pregnant women can safely consume sushi under some circumstances (3). First, the raw fish should be purchased from a reputable establishment, it needs to be stored properly, and also consumed immediately. Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that fish to be eaten raw must be frozen first to kill parasites, so the risk is actually quite low for eating sushi in the US. Pregnant women will still want to avoid high mercury fish and shellfish regardless.
More Honey, More Problems?
Lastly, you’ve probably heard that consuming honey is a big no-no for pregnant women due to the risk of botulism. If so, you may be surprised to hear that pregnant women don’t need to worry about consuming honey as much as we thought. As it turns out, the botulinum toxin is unlikely to cross easily into the placenta, so infection in the pregnant mother is extremely rare. That is, unless there is an underlying gastrointestinal disorder or recent antibiotic treatment (3). Basically, your adult gut is well-equipped to fight off the bacteria that can sometimes contaminate honey, so eat up!
“Healthy Weight during Pregnancy.” Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. August 2020.
Moderate caffeine consumption during pregnancy. Committee Opinion No. 462. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2010. 116:467-8.
Tam, C., Erebara, A., Einarson, A., Food-borne illnesses during pregnancy. Canadian Family Physician, 2010. 56(4):341-343.