busting pregnancy food myths

8 common pregnancy food myths busted

In India, it is common for a pregnant woman to receive a whole host of random suggestions from friends, family members and even neighbours regarding health and nutrition. Also, the diet of a pregnant woman is often influenced by many social, cultural and religious norms and beliefs. Hence, several myths about pregnancy continue to prevail, without facts to support them. In this article, we dig into some common pregnancy food myths and reveal the actual facts.

Myth 1: You should be eating for two when you are pregnant.

Fact: Although this is a phrase most pregnant women hear, the truth is that instead of the quantity, you must focus on the quality of food that you eat. Consume more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, low-fat dairy products and lower amounts of fat, sugar, and salt. If you eat more instead of improving the quality of your meals, it will be relatively tougher to lose your pregnancy weight later on. It might harm your health as well as your baby’s. So, eat often, but make sure that the foods you eat are healthy.

Myth 2: Eating saffron will result in a fair-skinned baby.

Fact: Skin colour is completely genetic and eating or avoiding certain foods will not influence it. There is no evidence that saffron lightens skin colour. Moreover, avoiding certain foods just because they might result in a dark-skinned baby will deprive your body of essential nutrients.

Myth 3: Eating papaya and pineapple causes miscarriage.

Fact: Certain foods are traditionally classified as cooling foods and are believed to cause miscarriages. Miscarriages mostly occur due to certain infections or other medical conditions. There is no research to support the statement that foods can cause miscarriages. Healthy and balanced meals with adequate proportions of protein, carbohydrates, fibre, and healthy fats are very important when you are pregnant. But if you are still worried about consuming pineapple or papaya, then you can easily substitute it with any other fruit like orange, so that you still get enough micronutrients.

Myth 4: A pregnant woman should fulfil all of her cravings.

Fact: Cravings and food aversions are typically seen in pregnancy due to hormonal changes. PICA is the craving for inedible substances which usually indicates a micronutrient deficiency. So, such cravings need immediate medical attention. If the cravings are for unhealthy foods like ice cream or salty treats, then have them in moderation, so that you don’t end up harming your health or your baby’s.

Myth 5: If the mother has frequent heartburn, then the baby will have lots of hair.

Fact: Heartburn is just another side effect of pregnancy and is not related to the appearance of the baby. When the growing uterus creates a lot of pressure on the oesophagus, it causes a higher secretion of gastric juices, which leads to heartburn.

Myth 6: Eating fish or other seafood during pregnancy may cause skin rashes or other such skin diseases in the baby.

Fact: There is no known association between seafood and skin disease. Seafood is rich in protein, zinc and iron, which are essential for your baby’s growth and development. Fatty fish like rawas, hilsa and rohu are powerhouses of omega-3 fatty acids that are important for the development of your baby’s eyes and brain. The only safety measure that you need to take is to make sure that the seafood is cooked properly to avoid any infection. 

Myth 7: If a pregnant woman eats sour and cold foods, she may catch flu.

Fact: Pregnant women are often told to avoid citrus fruits, juices, limes, lemons, curd, buttermilk, etc. as they might cause cold and cough that would harm the baby. However, the truth is that, citrus fruits contain vitamin C in abundance, which is essential for iron absorption and skin development of the baby. Curd and buttermilk are probiotic-rich foods that improve the health of the mother’s gut. Avoiding these foods will deprive both the mother and child of these essential nutrients.

Myth 8: Pregnant women should avoid any form of exercise.

Fact: Vigorous, high-intensity exercises must be avoided during pregnancy. But a guided prenatal exercise routine is very helpful to relieve discomfort during pregnancy and have a smooth delivery. 

Even though the above-mentioned myths are very popular in India, you should remember that there is no scientific basis for any of these. Rather, such myths may disturb pregnant women psychologically and cause added stress. So, remember to turn a deaf ear to any advice rooted in such myths and focus on eating healthy and balanced meals throughout your pregnancy. Consult your doctor too, if you are not sure what to do.