pregnant woman with a bowl of salad in her hand

Pregnancy Diet: Eating For Two

We’ve all heard the phrase “eating for two”, but now that you’re pregnant, should you really be doubling your food intake? It’s important to eat a healthy pregnancy diet to ensure you have enough energy.

During the first six months of pregnancy, you should not increase your calorie intake at all. You may find that, by switching to a healthier diet, you are able to eat more if you feel hungry, but you certainly shouldn’t be eating extra crisps or chocolate bars. During the final trimester, pregnant women are advised to eat an extra 200 calories a day. This amounts to two slices of brown bread lightly buttered, or a large banana. Hardly eating for two, is it?

Risks of overeating

By eating too much during pregnancy, you can put yourself at risk of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, backaches, preeclampsia, and birth interventions due to having a larger baby. Putting on an excessive amount of weight during pregnancy also means that it will take longer to shift back to your pre-pregnancy weight once the baby is born.

So what should I be eating?

Interestingly, on films and TV, we hear the phrase “eating for two” whenever cake or ice cream is on the menu. It’s rare to see a woman ordering twice the mixed salad. It’s important to remember that when you do increase your food intake, it should be the healthy stuff you eat more of – not the junk food.

Now that you’re pregnant, your diet is more important than ever. It’s essential that your food provides all the goodness your body needs to make a person. This means eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to ensure you get a mix of vitamins and minerals. You should also eat brown rice, brown pasta and brown bread, rather than choosing the less healthy white versions of these foods. Reduce your sugar and salt intake, and generally try to eat as healthily as you can.

Don’t starve yourself of treats though. If you’ve craving ice cream and salt and vinegar crisp sandwiches, go for it every once in awhile. As long as you don’t over indulge, and generally try to eat a healthy diet, you should be fine.

Healthy weight gain

Women who were a healthy weight pre-pregnancy should put on between 25 and 35 lbs. Women who were overweight before the pregnancy should aim to put on less, ideally no more than 25 lbs. Speak to your healthcare provider if you are worried about your weight gain.

The phrase “eating for two” isn’t outdated, it just needs a new meaning for modern life. Instead of thinking about double the quantities, we should think of it as changing our diets to increase the amount of healthy foods we eat – because we’re eating for two!

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.

Fiona PeacockPregnancy Diet: Eating For Two

Comments 15

  1. Pingback: Final trimester pregnancy diet |

  2. Sarah

    This article is in direct conflict with advice given earlier, which states an extra 300 a day through the whole pregnancy, and my doctor who said 300 a day extra for 2nd and 500 for third and through breastfeeding. With so much conflicting advise… just do what you think is right. I am not counting calories at this time of my life and I’m not going to feel bad if I have an occasional ice cream cone. I’m 23 weeks and have gained 15 lbs so far so I guess it’s working out.

  3. Ama

    I put on almost 4 stones with no 1 eating 4 slices toast then lunch 11.30 sweets crisips chicks. Struggled to loose weight lose about 2/2.5 stones. Now pregnant with no 2 totally diff cravings haven’t eaten as much as makes me feel sick plus have a fibroid so not much room in stomach . I been craving mixture fruit salads brown bread cheese but crappy food to like McDonald’s KFC chocolate. First child I was over weight I had normal delivery birthing pool … this time try not to put much on as have a toddler I need to be active for

  4. Rose

    Im 24 weeks pregnant and I am 10 pounds under my pre pregnancy weight. I have not been able to gain weight until the third trimester with my daughter and onlygained 7 pounds total looks like it will be a repeat for baby number 2. I dpoke to my OB about my weight loss and she said as long as I am eating enough I have nothing to worry about, I will have less to lose once the baby gets here.

  5. Rena Washington

    I’m 23 weeks and I only gained 11 lbs so far and I eat really good. My baby forbids me to eat a lot or rather any junk foods, also drink anything other than water. I can honestly say this is a healthy baby 😊 Although I do miss pigging out every blue moon or maybe something other than water occasionally.

  6. Shilpa

    i was under weight before pregnancy . Now I am 23 week pregnant what should be idle weight I should gai. For healthy pregnancy. Till now I have increased 9.2 lbs please suggest what should be my idle increasing weight for coming week

  7. Carla

    I’m currently 17 weeks and at first I was consuming a lit of fast food which my doctor told me to stay away from. So I decided to change my eating habits and started walking a little more

  8. Beth

    I got up to almost 200lbs with my first. I statred out at 120lbs. I think i ate for more than 2. I think I ate for about 3 or 4.
    2nd pregnancy went better. I gained about 35lbs with a starting weight of 120lbs again.
    Im currently on #3 and 11 weeks in. Starting weight 115lbs and strangely enough…. i do ask for double portions of salad.. i also ate half a pecan pie last week. This could go either way..

  9. Claire

    obviously you don’t need to ‘eat for two’ but you really should be eating more. It takes more energy to do the normal day to day things when you’re carrying a growing human around inside of you. Anyone with any basic knowledge of nutrition will tell you that taller / heavier people need more food to do the same actions as shorter / slight people need so it makes sense to eat more as you and your baby grow!

    Don’t eat chocolate fudge cake for breakfast every day and try not to snack on rubbish simply because it doesn’t give you real energy or nutrition but other than that eat when you are hungry and keep moving.

    Right, I’m off to have a snack and the baby wants one too!!

  10. Natalie

    I “ate for 2” during my 1st pregnancy and put on 4st! Everything was hard work, walking, moving etc. I couldn’t deliver properly as i was so big. 2nd birth i put 2.5st on and i was still walking 5 miles a day beyond my due date. I learnt my lesson. On baby 3 now and i definitely won’t be “eating for 2”

  11. Ashley

    I’m 7 weeks tomorrow and I seem to be hungry every 2-3 hours but my baby doesn’t want anything but veggies and meat. Anything else I try to eat makes me feel sick or instantly full. I wake up in the middle of the night starving. I don’t feel like I’m getting enough substance. Is it too early to have these concerns?

  12. Emily

    This is ridiculous!! I don’t know a single pregnant woman or mother who would agree that you don’t need to eat more. I have never been as ravenous as I was during the first trimester, even when I was dancing an hour and a half a day, five or six days a week. If I let myself go hungry then, morning sickness and vomiting went into full-swing. And the answer wasn’t brown whole grains and salads, but protein, lots and lots of protein.
    I don’t where this medical insistence on limiting yourself during pregnancy comes from ultimately, but my midwives most definitely do not agree and in fact urged me to put on more weight after I lost some during the second trimester. I am building another human being, and my baby needs protein, FAT, and lots of good animal-product nutrients to build a healthy body and brain. By all means, skip the junk food and eat lots of veggies, but remember that most moms throughout history ate meat, including organ meats, and healthy fats.
    Look up the Weston A. Price Foundation’s pregnancy diet guidelines for more. Also of great interest to anyone wanting a healthy pregnancy is the Brewer Diet, which was specifically studied as a way to prevent preeclampsia.

  13. Janina

    I still play the “eating for two” card each time my husband is joking that I am eating too much (as he always did before, I never listened and I am in perfect shape, so really just teasing) and it helped to a couple of treats like when there is only one of anything yummie left (it can be an orange, a donut or a rest of tomato salad – no matter what), we would usually share it – now I get one part and my husband insists the other part is for the baby. 🙂

  14. Kirstie

    I have read on many websites (all with professionals, i.e. doctors and/or midwives, giving the advice) and been told by my own midwife, that you can have shop bought mayonnaise, it is safe to eat while pregnant. Homemade mayonnaise is made with raw egg and should be avoided as can cause Salmonella food poisoning, which is unlikely to harm your baby, but it can give you a severe bout of diarrhoea and vomiting.

  15. Lydia

    I think I’m far from ‘eating for two’. I’m a little underweight and I’m 26 weeks pregnant now. I only noticed a stronger hunger pang in my first trimester. Felt hungry every 2-3 hours. But since I entered my 2nd trimester, my diet has been pretty normal as pre-pregnancy. Infact, I eat less at times. That worries me. So I’m trying to eat healthily albeit I’m eating little portions. Is whole meal bread or soft meal bread considered as brown bread? And I understand that we should avoid raw food. Should I avoid mayonnaise too as it contains raw eggs? I like it in my sandwiches. Please advise.
    Thank you.