Today I’m going to share a few of the pregnancy myths that are widely believed, perhaps even socially acceptable, and yet I believe are sabotaging the health of our bodies and our babes. They are some of the very mistakes I made while pregnant and I paid dearly for it! I hope you’ll learn from my mistakes.
Pregnancy Myth: You’re Eating For Two
The truth is, most of us are over-eating even before we get pregnant. Our bodies are designed to be lean and mean but our poor dietary habits and stressed out lifestyles are leaving us overweight, malnourished, and with poor defences to fend off disease and decay. So although there is some truth to needing more calories while pregnant, most of us are already getting those extra calories.
Truth: You’re Probably Already Eating Enough
To calculate how many calories you need to eat during pregnancy, first calculate your Daily Caloric Intake needs (this is the base number of calories you need to function each day plus extra for the movement you typically do) and then increase it by 300 calories for your second trimester and up to 500 for your third. For most women, it only takes a few days of food tracking before they realize they’ve been “eating for two” long before they ever got pregnant!
Pregnancy Myth: If You Crave It, Eat It!
It’s true that pregnant women experience wild cravings but whether pregnant or not, there is a reason behind cravings. In my experience, when we crave certain foods we are either lacking a certain macro- or micro-nutrient or our craving is actually a symptom of withdrawal. Giving into every craving without figuring out the root cause is like putting a Band-Aid on a cut that actually needs stitches.
Truth: Solve Cravings The Healthy Way
After a puke-tastic first trimester, I experienced an intense craving for Subway mayo. I didn’t even like Subway all that much but for some reason, I wanted to belly up to that counter, demand a tube of mayo like only a psycho preg-o woman could, tilt my head back and chug that stuff like a frat boy with a beer bong.
Clearly my body was telling me that all the vomiting had left my fat stores depleted and my growing babies needed some fat! The temporary fix would have been to open a jar of mayo but the healthier solution would have been to peel myself an avocado and give those boys a dose of incredibly healthy fats — which is what my body really needed. Cravings can be a great clue in listening to our body’s needs and healing ourselves with nutrition.
Pregnancy Myth: Eat Whatever You Want
Yes, you are creating new life. That’s epic and amazing. But contrary to popular opinion, it does not mean you have free license to eat whatever you want! Every single food you eat goes directly to that growing babe inside you. The toxic artificial sweeteners, the high doses of sugar, the stimulus-inducing caffeine — they are all pulsing through your blood and their umbilical cord.
Truth: You’re Eating For Two — So Make It Count
Instead of seeing pregnancy as justification for eating more of whatever you want, try thinking of it as reason to eat better than you ever have. More fruits and vegetables. More Superfoods. Forget catchy terms like “natural”, “low-fat”, “heart-healthy” and other misleading labels and opt for organic, local, free-range, grass-fed/grass-finished. If there was ever a time to justify spending a bit more money on quality food, it’s now. Plus, just think of all the money you’ll save in not splurging on random jars of pickles and pints of ice-cream.
Pregnancy Myth: The Weight Will Come Off By Itself
Despite carrying an additional 40 pounds for the first year of being a mom, I truly believed that my body would just sort itself out. Thankfully, I had a fateful experience in a Starbucks one day which woke me up from that delusional La La Land!
So yes, breastfeeding may require an extra 400-500 calories per day but downing a greasy Big Mac and a sugary milkshake is not the type of extra calories you or your baby needs. And let me remind you of the first myth — you’re probably already eating close to enough. A handful of nuts, some extra veggies, a Greens+ drink, a piece of fruit…you get my point.
Truth: The Weight Will Come Off — If You Make It
I am inundated with women from all over the world asking me whether or not I had a tummy tuck (no, I didn’t!). The truth is, it doesn’t take cosmetic surgery to be in the best shape of your life. Although your stomach may never look the exact same again, reducing your body fat percentage to an extremely low (but safe!) level will do wonders for getting rid of saggy stomachs and stretch marks. I dropped to about 15% and it was low enough to force my body to burn even the most resistant fat (that’s the saggy stomach, ladies!) and it shrunk my stretch marks (since there was little fat stretching them out!). Of course, to drop that low (the athlete range), you have to take action. Serious action. It might mean hiring a personal trainer with proven results, joining a reputable Crossfit gym or running club, or working with a Nutrition Coach to overhaul your nutrition plan.
The Most Important Lesson of All
Pregnancy taught me many lessons but perhaps the best lesson of all was learning to adopt a healthier body image. After gaining so much weight while pregnant, I wish I hadn’t been so hard on myself back in high school when I was only slightly overweight. This objectivity has helped me to love myself, no matter what size I’m at.
The body image mindset we have (while pregnant or not) has a tendency of permeating our entire life. If we think we’re imperfect and unhealthy now, it will inevitably carry over into the things we say to our kids, the way we respond to our husband’s compliments, and the risks we’re willing to take. One of the best gifts you can give your children is a healthy diet and an active lifestyle while pregnant but an even better gift that lasts a lifetime is modelling a life of self-acceptance and gratitude.
You’re growing life! It’s epic and awesome. Don’t ever forget that.