6 Pregnancy Food Expectations That Might Look Different IRL
6 Pregnancy Food Expectations That Might Look Different IRL
August 18, 2020

6 Pregnancy Food Expectations That Might Look Different IRL

6 Pregnancy Food Expectations That Might Look Different IRL.
6 Pregnancy Food Expectations That Might Look Different IRL

Your body goes through a ton of changes when you’re pregnant, and with that comes a lot (it seems) of new rules that can make figuring out how to best take care of yourself kind of complicated. What’s safe to eat? Can you still drink your daily matcha in peace?

We’ve partnered up with Workman Publishing, the publishers of the newest What to Expect: Eating Well When You’re Expecting, 2nd Edition by Heidi Murkoff—which is focused exclusively on how to nourish your pregnant body, along with unbiased advice and tasty recipes to take you from early pregnancy through postpartum eating—to talk about some of the myths and realities about food and pregnancy.

So whether you’re just getting started on your pregnancy journey or just getting used to the newest phase of it, here’s how to prepare yourself for some of the realities of eating for two.

Expectation vs. Reality

Expectation: Morning sickness happens in the morning.

Reality: Not everyone ends up with pregnancy nausea, but if you do, you may find yourself cursing whoever dubbed it “morning sickness.” In reality, pregnancy nausea can hit at any time, and while food often helps quell a queasy stomach, it’s really hard to eat when you don’t feel well. One tip What to Expect: Eating Well When You’re Expecting offers is to get ahead of the game. If you know your nausea hits at a certain time of day, give yourself a small snack before it has a chance to ramp up. Carbs are your friend, but studies show that adding a little protein (like cheese or nut butter) can help even more.

And if it turns out the only way to survive your first trimester is on a steady diet of dry bagels and lemonade? Don’t stress. You only need about 100 extra calories per day in the first trimester and 300 extra later in pregnancy. So make sure you’re eating, but don’t stress about needing to eat for two if just eating for one is feeling like a struggle. There’s plenty of time to add more variety to your diet later in pregnancy when you’re not making a second home next to the toilet bowl.

Expectation: You can’t have coffee, sushi or a turkey sandwich.

Reality: It might seem like a lot of things are off-limits during pregnancy. (And if you’re not sure which ones are a no-go and which ones are only in moderation, What to Expect: Eating Well When You’re Expecting has a whole breakdown of what’s safe to eat and what should be avoided.) But the general rule is to be extra careful about anything that would otherwise be susceptible to bacteria: undercooked eggs or meat, raw fish, deli meat, unpasteurized cheese and unwashed produce. The good news? Those rules are there to prevent you from getting really sick from certain kinds of bacteria (the normal food poisoning kinds and a particularly risky one for pregnant people called Listeria). So if you’ve been eating your burgers medium rare until now, there’s no need to panic about past transgressions. You’ll just want to double-check the guidelines before chowing down in the future.

Even better news? Your coffee habit is safe (within moderation). What to Expect: Eating Well When You’re Expecting has a helpful chart that breaks down the amount of caffeine in your favorite daily beverage, but on average 200mg (the amount in one tall coffee) a day is totally fine.

Expectation: You need to drink lots of milk to avoid calcium depletion.

Reality: Even though your baby is getting nutrients through you, for the most part your body will prioritize your needs first and serve your baby whatever is left over—with the exception of calcium. If you aren’t getting enough of it, your baby will use yours. But that doesn’t mean you suddenly need to start guzzling glasses of milk. What to Expect: Eating Well When You’re Expecting has a whole list of calcium-rich alternatives—cheese and yogurt would be best next choices (¼ cup cheese or 1 cup yogurt is equal to 1 cup of milk). If you’re vegan, or don’t do dairy, there are also non-dairy options, including almonds and almond butter, tofu and even your favorite orange juice (just opt for the calcium-fortified version). Bonus: lots of these foods do double duty and provide extra vitamins that you also need during pregnancy.

Expectation: Old wives’ tales are just that.

Reality: Most of the rumors around food and pregnancy aren’t based in reality (though What to Expect: Eating Well When You’re Expecting shares some fun ones, like the Chinese folklore that says eating crab will result in a mischievous child). But some of the wisdom that’s been passed around pregnancy circles does hold water. For example, there’s now scientific support that says ginger can help with nausea. So grab some ginger chews or whip up your favorite ginger snap recipe. Even taking a whiff of some fresh ginger can help.

Expectation: Things will go back to normal once the baby is here.

Reality: Your body is still doing a lot of work postpartum. So even when you get to say a fond farewell to heartburn or nausea, “normal” might be more of a moving target. If you’re breastfeeding, you don’t have to fret too much about getting exactly the right nutrients to enrich your breast milk (your body will take care of that for you), but you do need to make sure that you’re still taken care of while you’re taking care of your baby. Breastfeeding burns an extra 500 calories a day, which can lead to a hangry parent if you’re not careful. And even if you’re not breastfeeding, your body is still recovering from birth, and taking care of a baby requires a lot of energy. So pause the narrative about “snapping back” to your pre-pregnancy body and prioritize your well being first (aka keep snacks and water handy at all times).

The reality of building a human from scratch means you might be spending most of your time and energy right now just trying to keep your eyes open during the day. And while it might seem like just another thing to think about, making sure you’re getting enough of what your body needs can actually help towards making your pregnancy journey a little bit smoother. For more tips on how to do that, check out the complete What To Expect: Eating Well When You’re Expecting healthy eating guide along with the rest of the What to Expect When You’re Expecting series, also by Heidi Murkoff:

Learn more and find other resources at whattoexpect.com

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