Survey says… most women still believe the 'eating for two' pregnancy myth

A survey of 2,100 women in the UK has shown that 4 out of 5 aren't sure how many calories to eat when pregnant.

Pregnant woman standing in front of an open fridge

Pregnancy news, 25/07/2017

Many women still think that you should “eat for two” during pregnancy, according to the National Charity Partnership (NCP).

Busting the eating for two myth

The NCP survey showed that more than 1 in 3 pregnant women think they need to eat 300 or more extra calories every day. And 61 per cent think they need to start eating the extra calories in the first or second trimester.

Alex Davis, Head of Prevention, said:

‘The “eating for two” myth has been around for years, but it’s very unhelpful. Eating healthily and consuming healthy portion sizes are important before, during and after pregnancy to increase the chances of conceiving naturally, reduce the risk of pregnancy and birth-related complications and stave off health problems like Type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease in the long-term.’

Current guidelines

First and second trimester

In the first six months mums-to-be don’t need any extra calories. Eating a normal balanced diet of no more than 2,000 calories per day during the first and second trimester is the best thing for mum and baby.

Read about what a healthy, balanced pregnancy diet looks like…

Third trimester

Pregnant women only need an extra 200 calories per day in the third trimester only.

Watch Tommy’s film for examples of what 200 calories looks like:

Excuse me, I’m growing a human

The NCP also found that over a quarter of pregnant women used ‘eating for two’ as an excuse to eat unhealthy snacks or meals. In response, the NCP are working with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) to bust the myth and encourage healthier choices.

‘Eating too much during pregnancy and putting on too much weight can be detrimental to both mother and baby. Women who are overweight during pregnancy are at an increased risk of having a miscarriage and developing conditions such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia.’Professor Janice Rymer, Vice President of Education for the RCOG

Read about healthy food swaps you can make in pregnancy…

More about the NCP

  • The NCP is a partnership between Diabetes UK, the British Heart Foundation and Tesco.
  • They want to help people look after their bodies and long-term health by inspiring them to move more and eat healthily.
  • Their current Let’s Do This campaign has already helped around one million people to get more active.

Our midwife Sophie's take on the survey:

'We know that it can feel like you are constantly ducking and diving between the foods to avoid and those that are great for you and your growing baby in pregnancy. But no matter what, it is important to know that you are doing a fabulous job!  We know that for most of us, eating yummy food is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and healthy eating can be tough, but hang in there! There are still plenty of tasty pregnancy-safe treats that you can enjoy whilst giving you and your growing bump all of the nutrients it needs to flourish!'

More on nutrition in pregnancy

  • 200 calorie pregnancy snacks

    How much should you eat in pregnancy? During most of your pregnancy you do not need to take in extra calories (over the recommended 2,000 a day for women).

  • A healthy vegetarian salad with bread

    Nutrition in pregnancy

    Now that you’re pregnant, it’s important to eat well. Good nutrition will keep you healthy and help your baby grow and develop.

  • Box of fresh vegetables

    Healthy eating tips

    Now you're pregnant, people may tell you to have second helpings or to eat more treats '...because you're eating for two'. It’s not true and is likely to lead to extra weight gain.

More pregnancy news and blogs

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