The survey found that more than one in three expectant mothers think they have to eat 300 or more extra calories per day in order to support themselves and their developing fetus. In fact, the U.K.’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, advises that pregnant women don’t actually have to eat any extra calories in the first six months of pregnancy.
Of the 140 pregnant women who were surveyed, 61 percent said they still assumed they should be eating extra calories as soon as their first trimester.
Misinformation in the public sphere and a lack of nutritional education for expectant mothers is certainly part of the problem, but the survey also suggested that the myth might be surviving because it’s an excuse to indulge. One quarter of women surveyed admitted that they have used the “eating for two” concept to legitimize eating a little extra junk food.
Following the results of the survey, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is now hoping to once and for all squash the myth that eating anything more 200 extra calories in the last trimester of pregnancy should be the norm.
Professor Janice Rymer, the vice president of education at the RCOG, told the BBC that women who gain too much weight during pregnancy are at risk for diabetes and high blood pressure, and that they’ll be more likely to have a premature baby or require a caesarean section.
That doesn’t mean that pregnant women have to give up good food: Dietary recommendations during pregnancy allow women to eat two meals with fish per week, hard cheese, and plenty of carbs. That’s, of course, as long as they keep it to a serving size for one.