Myths About Food During Pregnancy

When it comes to having a baby, there are all sorts of myths that women believe and propagate. Today, we'll unveil those that surround food and pregnancy.
Myths About Food During Pregnancy

Last update: 21 May, 2021

Pregnancy is a stage in a woman’s life that’s characterized by numerous changes. Nutrition is one of the most important, as it favors the proper development of the baby. For this reason, there are many myths regarding food during pregnancy, which we’ll discuss below.

Myths regarding food during pregnancy

There are several myths that you’ve probably heard and thought to be true. Therefore, we’ll take a look at some of the most well-known so you can see that not everything people say about food during pregnancy is true.

You have to eat for two: one of the most widespread myths about food during pregnancy

This is undoubtedly the most deeply rooted myth of all. It’s based on the fact that, in order for the fetus to grow without any problems, the mother needs to eat twice as much. However, as pregnancy progresses, nutritional needs increase, leading to an increase in appetite. This usually occurs from the sixth month onwards. This doesn’t mean that your appetite or your nutritional needs are twice as much as in the months prior to this stage.

A pregnant woman holding an apple.

In addition, it’s important to consume a wide variety of healthy quality foods. It’s also important to provide all the nutrients in sufficient quantity, especially folic acid, iodine, and iron.

If you’re overweight or obese, it’s a good time to lose weight: another of the most commonly heard myths

Although it’s true that being overweight or obese can negatively affect pregnancy and the future child, there’s no reason to diet. By restricting caloric intake, the fetus’ organs may not develop properly.

What’s advisable is to lose weight before you become pregnant. This way, you’ll have fewer complications, and your child will have less risk of suffering from certain conditions such as diabetes, hypertension or being overweight.

Regarding weight gain during pregnancy, it varies from one woman to another. However, the tendency in scientific studies is greater among women who are overweight or obese and who’ll give birth to twins or triplets.

For this reason, in 2009, the American Institute of Medicine drew up a table of approximate weight guidelines based on the body mass index (BMI). This ranges from 15.5 to 26.5 lbs, although it depends on several factors.

Beware of oily fish: it’s best to avoid it!

Keep in mind that large fish accumulate heavy metals such as mercury and cadmium inside. Therefore, during pregnancy, it’s advisable to avoid eating bluefin tuna, pike, emperor, shark, and swordfish. On the other hand, you can eat small fish, such as sardines, anchovies, and salmon. You can also eat white fish.

The fewer carbohydrates, the lower the risk of gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes appears in 3-9 percent of women in mid-pregnancy. It’s the result of a reduction in insulin sensitivity and involves an increase in blood glucose levels, as the body can’t properly metabolize carbohydrate-rich foods. Even if common sense leads you to think that they should be eliminated or reduced from your diet, you need to know the types and how they behave.

A pregnant woman preparing a salad.

On the one hand, there are the fast-absorbing ones, which are also known as simple sugars. The vast majority are added to products to sweeten them and others are present naturally in fruits, some vegetables, and milk.

On the other hand, slow-absorbing, or complex sugars, are part of the fiber present in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Taking into account this classification, scientific evidence shows that a low glycemic index diet (without simple sugars) reduces fasting and post-meal glycemia and increases insulin sensitivity.

Therefore, it’s important to prioritize the consumption of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes, since fiber acts as a protective factor against gestational diabetes. The same applies to proteins of vegetable origin, present in legumes such as chickpeas and lentils. Experts also recommend regular physical activity, both before and during pregnancy.

About food myths during pregnancy

It’s important that you question certain information that circulates on the Internet. Talk to your nutritionist to debunk the most common myths about food during pregnancy. They’ll even advise you on which foods are most beneficial for you.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Julio Basulto. (2015) Mamá come sano. Barcelona: Editorial De bolsillo. 1ª edición. 
  • AESAN (Agencia Española de Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición). (2019) Recomendaciones de consumo de pescado por presencia de mercurio. 
  • Ávila Turcios, D.M; Hernández Moreno, A.; Kyriakos, G.; Alejo Ramos, M.; Ballesteros Pomar, M. D.; Aguado García, R. et al. (2014) Diabetes gestacional: prevalencia y complicaciones maternofetales asociadas en la población seguida en atención especializada en el complejo asistencial universitario de León. Av Diabetol, 30:212. 
  • Fundación para la diabetes. Diabetes gestacional. [Consultado el 2 de junio de 2020] Disponible en:
  • Zhang, C.; Rawal, S; Seng Chong, S. (2016) Risk factors for gestational diabetes: Is prevention possible. Diabetologia: 59(7): 1385-90. 
  • Mahajan, A, Donovan, L.  E.; Valee, R.; Yamamoto,J. M. (2019) Evidence-based nutrition for gestational diabetes mellitus. Curr Diab Rep, 19(10): 94. 
  • Filardi, T.; Panimolle, F.; Crescioli, C.; Lenzi,A. Morano, S. (2019) Gestational diabetes mellitus: the impact of carbohydrate quality in diet. Nutrients, 11(7): 1549. 

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.