My mother has a tendency to talk to the characters on the TV. I am fairly certain she understands these characters can’t hear her and aren’t going to respond to her, but nevertheless, there she sits, giving them instructions and yelling at them when she doesn’t agree with their choices.

 

One particularly interesting conversation she had with the TV occurred during a sitcom featuring a pregnant woman. Still early in her pregnancy, the character was barely showing when she sat down to have lunch with a friend. When she ordered a salad with grilled chicken and water, my mother was immediately up in arms. “You need to eat more!” she yelled at the screen, “Don’t you know you are eating for two?” I must have been staring at her, because she promptly turned her yelling on me. “Pregnant women have to feed their babies! They can’t just eat those little meals. They have to eat enough for two people or their babies won’t grow!” The baby that woman was carrying couldn’t be but so big considering she barely had a belly. Did it really need a whole meal to itself? Is there any truth behind the concept of “eating for two”?

Proper pregnancy nutrition is critical. An expectant mother must consume the right balance of calories and nutrients to ensure both she and her developing baby are supported. The important thing to remember, however, is that pregnant women are eating for two, but not two adults. While a pregnant woman needs to increase her daily calorie intake, the conventional recommendation is to increase daily calories by only 300. This means adding one small meal such as half a cheese sandwich and an apple, or several snacks such as a handful of nuts, a cup of yogurt and a plate of fresh veggies with dip.

Much more important than eating more calories, is the focus pregnant women have on consuming the right balance of nutrients. A healthy, well-balanced diet that features a full range of vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins will support the health of the mother and the development of the baby. Though calorie and protein deficiency is quite rare in this country, many expectant mothers do not get the other important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and fatty acids that they need. Pregnant women should focus their daily diet on the basic food groups rather than filling out with too many extra calories.

Source: Watts Vanessa, et al. Assessing Diet Quality in a Population of Low-Income Pregnant Women: A Comparison Between Native Americans and Whites, Maternal and Child Health Journal, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 127-136, March 2007.