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Health Canada, the Canadian Paediatric Society, and the Dietitians of Canada recommend that you exclusively breastfeed your baby for the first 6 months and that you continue to breastfeed for up to 2 years or longer along with complementary foods.

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Home / Pregnant / Food myths / Pregnancy nutrition myths

Pregnancy nutrition myths

"That’s bad for you": let’s bust some pregnancy food myths.

One of the things you will find when you are expecting is that everyone often feels that they have to give you unsolicited advice about what to eat and what to stop eating. Your friends and family will have points of view, and you are sure to encounter an old wives’ tale or two along the way. Truth is, you're going to be showered with helpful, but at times conflicting, pregnancy nutrition tips; so let’s help set the record straight.

No doubt that you have already heard the phrase "you’re eating for two now". Cool! An excuse to eat as much as you want! Unfortunately, not. While you do need extra nutrients like calcium and iron when you are pregnant, you do not need many extra calories until the second trimester. Even then, it is only 350 more calories each day. And guess what? You have to make those calories count by choosing a variety of nutrient-dense foods from all four food groups, as opposed to energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods. It is not really about eating more, it is more about getting more from what you eat.

So what is safe to eat? For one thing, you are allowed to eat fish — to get more details on that, click here. But what about the more obscure advice circulating out there?

Pregnancy, papaya, and pineapple

Papaya and pineapple have been accused of causing miscarriages, and as a result, someone may tell you to completely avoid these. The theory behind this myth is that in their raw form, both fruits contain certain enzymes which, if consumed in large quantities, can cause uterine contractions.

What should you do? Trust the evidence or, in this case, the lack of evidence. There is no official recommendation to avoid papaya and pineapple so, if you have a craving for either of these delicious tropical fruits, you should not worry about including these in your diet.

Eating cold and sour foods when pregnant

Another common myth is that pregnant women can catch the flu if they eat cold or sour foods. Say what?! That’s right, mothers-to-be are often told by well-meaning friends or relatives to avoid citrus fruits, juices, limes, lemons, curd, buttermilk, etc. Why? The story goes that these foods will cause pregnant women to develop colds and coughs that can even affect the baby!

Nothing could be further from the truth! Rest assured that you do not have to avoid these foods! In fact, they are loaded with nutritional benefits for you and your baby. The entire range of citrus fruits provides much needed vitamin C, and curd and buttermilk contain probiotics that are important in digestive health. Rather than staying away from these delicious foods, dig in!

This slew of conflicting advice when you are pregnant can get very confusing. Moms want to do what is best for their babies, and the idea that something they eat might harm their unborn child is worrisome. As long as you follow Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide to eat the amount and type of foods that is right for you and your baby, everything will be just fine. If you are concerned, ask your health care professional about foods you should avoid while you are pregnant or breastfeeding. You can also consult the Government of Canada websites. Food Safety for Pregnant Women (2016) at https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-safety-vulnerable-populations/food-safety-pregnant-women.html and Healthy Eating and Pregnancy (2014) at https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/pregnancy/healthy-eating-pregnancy.html. And take any tales you hear about food with a nice big pinch of salt.