Don’t Believe These 5 Myths About Pregnancy Diet

Frida Harju-Westman, in-house nutritionist at health app Lifesum (, busts a few of the most common pregnancy diet myths

The minute you announce your pregnancy, the ‘old wives tales’ begin in earnest.  While these are all very well meant, when it comes to nutrition, it is essential that you decipher fact from fiction, as so much of the baby’s growth is tied into what you eat. 

Below are some of the more common myths that you should take with a pinch of salt.

You’re eating for two the you’re pregnant

Alas. Pregnancy is not the perfect excuse to eat as much of whatever you like as possible. You don’t need to have more than your usual calorie intake in the first trimester of pregnancy, only increasing calories towards the middle half of the second and then into the third trimesters. The logic here is simple – while you are technically eating for two, only one of the two is a grown human; a baby doesn’t need as many calories as an adult!

No coffee allowed

When it comes to pregnancy, the coffee lines are blurred. Some say that you shouldn’t have coffee at all, while others say that your usual amount of coffee is fine. According to a study by the European Food Authority in 2015, pregnant women can have 200 mg of caffeine per day, which corresponds to 3 cups of coffee per day, which is more than many of us would choose to have even when we’re not pregnant. The choice is really up to you – if you feel you can’t make it through the day without a cup of coffee, you are safe and can enjoy your morning caffeine. If you’d prefer to avoid caffeine, stick to tea, which has a lot less caffeine than coffee.

Goodbye to sushi

When it comes to pregnancy, opinions on fish are really split. It is true that some fish that contain high levels of mercury should be avoided but you can and should, safely enjoy anchovies, clams, crab, haddock, hake, herring, mackerel, oysters, salmon, scallops, shrimp and calamari. It is best to avoid tuna, sea bass and swordfish, as these contain high levels of mercury. It is also advisable that you avoid raw fish, as it can sometimes contain small worms known as anisakis, which can make you sick.

Quit the gym

For decades, women were told that the moment they find out they are pregnant, they should stop all exercise and just relax. This is definitely a myth, as exercise not only helps us stay fit and healthy, but it also makes us happier and makes it easier to get back in shape after birth. 

Additionally, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the National Childbirth Trust and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, all recommend moderate exercise in order to reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, cardiovascular disease and gestational weight gain. Even if you weren’t exercising previously, you can easily get into a walking routine during your pregnancy.

Drop the salt

A common myth around pregnancy is that salt contributes to swelling. First of all, some swelling during pregnancy is absolutely normal, but if you are concerned, you should really look at your overall diet to make sure you are getting enough protein, water and rest. 

Lastly, sodium is an important electrolyte, which helps the body regulate fluids, and as a woman’s sodium metabolism is affected by hormones, you should really try to have 1.5 grams of sodium per day, as advised by the Institute of Medicine. Lifesum is a Stockholm-based digital health company with over 25 million users. 

Using tech and psychology, it creates a tailored plan to help people live happier, more balanced lives. Whether the goal is to lose weight, build muscle, or just live a healthier life, Lifesum shows how changing small, everyday habits can transform your life.

The app is available on iOS and Android.

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