Eating for Two? Calorie Guidelines During Pregnancy

calories.png"I'm eating for two!" has often been said by many a pregnant person in the face of an extra helping at dinner, a late night ice cream/nachos/fast food run, or countless other times when a) ravenous pregnancy hunger strikes b) when food choices are less-than-ideal or c) when we feel like we need to explain our eating. 

To the ubiquitous "eating for two" during pregnancy, I have two things to say: you don't owe it to anyone to explain how, why, or what you're eating; and, "eating for two" during pregnancy isn't exactly.  

If you want to know the truth behind "eating for two" during pregnancy, and how it does and does not relate to your optimal health choices, listen up. The average calorie needs for a woman who is 27 years old, not pregnant, weighs 140lbs, and is "lightly active" (exercise 1-3 times per week) is 1,885. (Source

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, during pregnancy, daily calorie needs range from 2,200 to 2,900, depending on pre-pregnancy weight and BMI, activity level, whether you're carrying one baby or more, and any other individual needs. As in the case of our person described above, who is now pregnant with one baby, this would mean an average of 400 extra calories per day. 

What does an extra 400 calories per day look like? A banana (150), cup of yogurt (150), and a cup of carrots (50) with 2 tbsp of hummus (50). Or, an extra slice of pizza (285) and a cup of juice (115). 

I'm not an advocate for counting calories. I am an advocate for making good, whole/real food choices 80% of the time, listening to your body when it's actually hungry (rather than bored or stressed), maintaining regular exercise/physical activity, and working with a trusted doctor, midwife, and/or nutritionist to determine your unique needs. Pregnancy weight gain can be a source of stress for some, with too much emphasis put on weight gain and counting calories. When it comes to "eating for two," inform yourself, seek compassionate, knowledgeable guidance, and trust your gut (and your belly).  

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