As a Registered Dietitian working with the Halton Prenatal Nutrition Program I hear a lot of myths around prenatal nutrition. Even when I myself was pregnant, the old adages of eating for two were a dime a dozen. Even though nutrition information is everywhere and at everyone’s finger tips, it also doesn’t guarantee it is credible or reliable.
March is National Nutrition Month where Registered Dietitians across Canada celebrate eating well and making nutrition fun! This year’s theme is about getting the real deal on your meal and busting common food and nutrition myths.
So let’s get the real deal and bust some myths that we frequently hear about nutrition during pregnancy:
Being pregnant means you should eat twice as much food.
Even though you are eating for two, you do not need to eat like two. It is true that your nutrient needs increase, but daily energy requirements only increase for the second and third trimester of pregnancy. Focus on eating twice as healthy, not twice as much. An extra 2-3 food guide servings per day is all the extra food you need to support your growing baby.
Below are some examples of 3 extra food guide servings per day:
- ½ whole wheat bagel, with 1 tbsp peanut butter and 1 cup of milk
- 1 medium banana, yogurt and ¼ cup of almonds
- ½ cup brown rice, 3 oz of lean meat and 1 cup cooked broccoli
OR…spread them out during the day:
- Have an extra glass of milk at lunch, extra piece of fruit as a snack, and an extra 3 oz of lean meat with dinner.
There are times during pregnancy when it is okay to have alcohol.
There is no “safe time” or “safe alcohol” to drink when you are pregnant. Beer, wine, cocktails, coolers, hard liquors (such as whiskey, gin or vodka), liqueurs or even hard ciders all contain alcohol that can hurt your developing baby. The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends no alcohol during pregnancy. And no alcohol is the best choice for having a healthy baby.
I don’t need to take a multivitamin supplement because I eat really well.
The research supports even the healthiest eating patterns may still need the help of a multivitamin supplement to ensure pregnant moms get all the key nutrients their bodies require to grow a healthy baby. Vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium and folic acid are vital for proper fetal growth, development, and healthy adult living.
Key Points to Remember:
A prenatal multivitamin supplement doesn’t replace healthy eating, but it helps mom get key nutrients (such as iron, calcium or folic acid) that cannot be met through diet alone.
- All women of childbearing years should take a multivitamin containing 0.4mg of folic acid every day.
- All pregnant women should take a daily multivitamin containing 0.4 mg of folic acid and 16 – 20 mg of iron (Health Canada, 2009).
- At the same time, expecting moms may also need to change their diet to get the most from nutrient-rich foods.
If you have questions or concerns about taking a multivitamin supplement during pregnancy talk to you health care provider or a Registered Dietitian about a supplement that would be right for you.
Where else can I find more information on prenatal nutrition?
Visit these websites for more myth busting information:
- Learn more about Prenatal Nutrition
- Take the Healthy Pregnancy Quiz
- Print your own copy of The Sensible Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy
- EaTracker: www.eaTracker.ca
- Dietitians of Canada: www.dietitians.ca
- EatRight Ontario: www.eatrightontario.ca
Share your experience:
For more tips and hints about prenatal nutrition, or to share your experience, there are many ways you can talk to one of us directly:
- Leave us a comment below – we’d love your feedback
- Talk to us on Twitter: @haltonparents
- Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dial 311 or 905-825-6000 for parenting information or to speak directly to a Public Health Nurse every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
About this guest blogger:
Andrea Licursi, MSc, RD is a Registered Dietitian with Halton Region’s Early Years Health Program. She currently coordinates and teaches at the Halton Prenatal Nutrition Program, where she loves combining her passion of food, nutrition and health to help improve the wellbeing of both mom and baby.