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Women Reveal What They’re Really Eating During Pregnancy

Image Source: Thinkstock
Image Source: Thinkstock

The majority of pregnant women may start eating healthier once they get knocked up, but cravings, time constraints, aversions, and confusion over what’s safe to eat, can get in the way of their best intentions. Those are the overall findings of a new survey of 2,300 expecting and new moms by American Baby and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Some nuggets:

  • 77 percent of moms polled eat breakfast every day. (But of course, you could practically consume your pillow when you wake up from being so hungry in the morning.)
  • 84 percent reach for ice-cream, chips, pretzels, chocolates, cookies, and candy to satisfy cravings.
  • 80 percent admit to downing risky foods including cold deli meats, undercooked eggs, meat, fish, and unpasteurized cheese (all of which can contain listeria — an evil bacteria that can lead to pregnancy complications). A quarter of moms polled said they consumed forbidden pregnancy foods because they weren’t aware they were a problem. And close to half believed “a little can’t hurt.”
  • 63 percent do not eat the recommended 5 to 9 daily servings of fruits and vegetables; 12 percent eat one or fewer servings a day.
  • 42 percent say figuring out what to eat during pregnancy is stressful.

There’s another key reason for the above findings: Pregnant women are human.

We’re not perfect. As concerned as we are about nurturing our unborn children, sometimes we may get conflicting guidance. In the medical practice I go to, one doctor has said it’s OK to eat sushi at a good restaurant because it’s flash frozen before it’s shipped, which knocks out harmful stuff; another firmly said no — which seems to be the general consensus among experts on the topic of what not to eat during pregnancy.

Sushi is personally one of my favorite foods. S0 one night while out to dinner with a friend, I had a piece of salmon sushi despite my better judgment. I was fine although my husband (aka the food cop) might abandon me if I told him, so let’s just keep this between us, OK?

More regularly, I’ve eaten more than I should. In fact, it’s amazing I haven’t been sleep-eating given how insatiable my hunger can get. One third of women polled said they indulged their appetite because they are “eating for two.” This is a widely debunked myth. As registered dietitian nutritionist, Tamara Melton, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, noted, “You don’t need extra calories during your first trimester — and only 350 to 450 more calories a day in your second and third trimesters.”

But there will always be those days when you feel nauseous, exhausted, or generally crappy, and only certain beloved eats will help. Given that romaine lettuce and tofu are few women’s ideas of comfort food, it seems like a pregnant woman’s best plan is to read up on what to eat from trusted sources, follow the guidelines of doctors and recommendations, and generally do their best — without feeling guilty about the occasional indulgence. After all, once your little darling arrives, you will be the beneficiary of all sorts of parent guilt trips.

For now, just enjoy, mama.

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