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Debunking 7 Common Pregnancy Nutrition Myths: What You Need to Know

Pregnancy is a time when many women are especially mindful of their nutrition. However, there are a lot of myths surrounding pregnancy and nutrition that can lead to confusion and unnecessary worry. In this post, we will explore some of the most common pregnancy nutrition myths and provide accurate information to help you make informed decisions about your diet.


Myth 1: You need to eat for two

It's a common misconception that pregnant women need to eat twice as much food to support their growing baby. In reality, most pregnant women only need to consume an additional 300-500 calories per day during the second and third trimesters, which can be met through an additional snack or small meal. It’s best to focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods to meet your nutritional needs and to feel good during your pregnancy.

Myth 2: You should avoid all seafood

While it's true that some types of seafood, such as high-mercury fish, should be limited during pregnancy, seafood is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for fetal brain development and maternal health. High-mercury fish include catfish, swordfish, shark, orange roughy, mackerel, sea bass, canned albacore tuna, and yellowfin tuna.  Low-mercury options, such as salmon, shrimp, and canned light tuna, can be safely consumed in moderation. It’s important to note that raw shellfish is not safe to eat during pregnancy.

Myth 3: You should avoid all caffeine

While it's best to limit caffeine intake during pregnancy, moderate consumption (less than 200 mg per day) has not been shown to have negative effects on pregnancy outcomes. This translates to about two 8-ounce cups of coffee per day. Green, black, oolong, and matcha teas contain less caffeine than coffee, but should still be monitored especially if you are having multiple servings. Herbal teas contain no caffeine.

Myth 4: You should avoid all herbs and spices

Many herbs and spices are safe to consume during pregnancy and can add flavor and variety to your diet. There is no evidence to support the idea that spicy foods can harm the baby during pregnancy. Some women may experience heartburn or indigestion when they eat spicy foods, but this is a common symptom of pregnancy and is not harmful to the baby.

Myth 5: You should avoid all soft cheeses

Soft cheeses such as brie and camembert are often avoided by pregnant women due to concerns about listeria, a bacteria that can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, or preterm labor. It is safe to consume soft cheeses like brie or camembert when they are baked to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Cheeses made with pasteurized milk like cottage cheese, cream cheese, goat cheese (without rind), mozzarella, and ricotta are safe for pregnant women to consume. Note: food labels will state if an item is pasteurized.

Myth 6: You should avoid all exercise

While it's important to talk to your healthcare provider about exercise during pregnancy, regular physical activity can have many benefits, such as reducing the risk of gestational diabetes and improving mood and energy levels. Low-impact exercises, such as walking, swimming, and yoga, are generally safe for most pregnant women.

Myth 7: You should only eat "clean" foods

It’s important to note that there is no legal or scientific definition for what makes a food "clean" and just because a food is labeled as "clean" or "unclean" does not necessarily make it “healthy” or “unhealthy.” Using this kind of terminology and thinking can lead to food shaming and anxiety around food choices. While it's important to focus on nutrient-dense foods, striving for perfection and avoiding foods deemed as “unclean” or “unhealthy” can lead to unnecessary stress and may even lead to disordered eating. All foods can fit into a healthy diet and it’s important to enjoy the foods that you love to maintain a healthy relationship with food during and after your pregnancy.


There are many pregnancy nutrition myths that can lead to unnecessary worry and confusion. By understanding the facts and focusing on nutrient-dense foods, you can support a healthy pregnancy and nourish your growing baby. If you are experiencing any pregnancy-related symptoms or are concerned about your nutritional intake during your pregnancy, working with a registered dietitian is a good option for you. For more information regarding nutrition counseling, email


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