You’ve heard it from your mom, grand-mom, and maybe even the neighbor’s dog. You’re now expecting and that means you have to eat twice as much as usual. Of course they mean well. And who doesn’t like to eat? But doubling your calorie intake only means your body is going to resemble a small whale by the time you reach your third trimester!

You need more iron, calcium, folic acid, and protein while you are pregnant. Your baby is relying on you solely for growth and development. The number of extra calories you require however, is small compared to the amount of extra nutrients you need.

During your first trimester, your body and baby don’t need any extra calories; in the second trimester, you need 340 more each day; in the third, 450 more calories. Your body simply needs better quality foods with more nutrition per calorie. In other words, not all calories are created equally. A Kitkat is delicious yes, but it won’t nourish your baby like a big bowl of leafy greens will, even though they both have a similar calorie content.

Don’t underestimate how smart your pregnant bodies are – they become more efficient at absorbing nutrients once you become pregnant, so you don’t actually need to eat that much more in order to get those extra nutrients.

How Much Weight Should I Gain?
Weight gain is actually one of the main signs of a healthy pregnancy, so don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you should eat grapes for two weeks in order to avoid gaining weight. How much weight you should gain will depend on your pre-pregnancy weight. Use the table below as a general guide:

Pre-Pregnancy BMI Weight Gain Range (kg)
Less than 18.5 12.5-18
18.5 – 25 11.5 – 16
25 – 30 7 – 11.5
More than 30 5-9

So, while it might be nice to indulge a little during your pregnancy, and some days you really, really deserve that chocolate bar, don’t use pregnancy as an excuse to eat whatever you want in unlimited quantities. Looking at the quality of your diet during this special time is much more important than counting calories.