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Should you really be “eating for two” when you’re pregnant?


New research can help expectant moms with moderation, even while pregnant.

The virtue of moderation when it comes to eating is not an easy one to master. There’s always a new diet making its rounds, insisting that we ignore our appetite, but we also tend to pounce on every opportunity to indulge: a tough day, a celebration, and of course, pregnancy.

So when the numbers on the scale start to rise rapidly when we’re with child, most of us don’t think much of it. There are no long-term effects of gaining too much weight while pregnant and besides, we’re eating for two now, right?

Actually, wrong on both fronts.

“Gaining too much weight during pregnancy could put your future offspring at an increased risk of insulin resistance and affect their blood pressure in childhood,” The Guardian reveals in its relay of a recent study. So much for thinking the only outcome of packing on too many pounds will be more postpartum minutes on the elliptical.

What’s more, the old “eating for two” description we give to pregnant women whose portion sizes start to double is actually totally false. According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, zero additional energy is necessary during the first and second trimester and when we hit the third, we really only require about 200 extra calories per day.

Of course, that’s not taking into account mothers who were underweight upon conceiving. Still, the vast majority of women who gain an unhealthy amount of weight during pregnancy tend toward too much, as opposed to too little.

The study, which was published in the journal Diabetoligia, used the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations on weight gain for pregnancy, which state underweight women should gain 28-40 pounds, those of a healthy weight should shoot for 25-35 pounds,and overweight women ought to put on between 15 and 20 pounds.

In their sample of almost 1,000 women, 42 percent gained their recommended amount of weight during pregnancy. Only 17 percent did not gain enough and 41 percent gained too much.

When researchers followed up with the babies once they reached seven years old, they discovered that those whose mothers had gained more weight than the recommendations tended to be heavier and have higher BMIs and waist circumferences than children whose mothers’ weight remained within the guidelines. Additionally, “They … tended to have a higher blood pressure and signs of greater insulin resistance.”

However, the study’s co-author clarified that these findings are not yet cause for alarm since far more investigation is necessary for any definitive correlations. It’s certainly something to think about, though, especially for those of us who want to give our little ones the best chance at prosperous health.

Although obsessively stepping on the scale is not the answer, committing to a healthy diet throughout pregnancy can go a long way. After all, moderation is key and that means listening to our bodies’ cues while also having the grace to not go overboard.

Read more: How to make “eating for two” during pregnancy a holy practice

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