The Truth About Eating for Twins

Excited about how much more you'll be able to eat during your twin pregnancy? The truth is you only need to add around 500 extra calories a day. That's about the number in 2 cups of skim milk and a cheese sandwich, or in 2 bowls of cereal with low-fat milk and a banana.

If you already eat healthfully, adding those 500 calories may be the only change you need to make for you and your twins to stay healthy.

If your pre-pregnancy diet wasn't the healthiest, don't worry. Now is a great time to incorporate better food choices for you and your babies. Remember, variety is key. Choosing from different food groups will ensure you’re getting the best assortment of vitamins and minerals.

Foods for Energy: Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbs give your body the energy it needs to keep you going and growing throughout your pregnancy. They’re also packed with fiber, which helps with digestion and preventing constipation -- often a concern for pregnant women.

Complex carbs include:

  • Fruits and veggies
  • Whole grains like oats, brown rice, whole wheat breads, and pastas

Foods to Build Blood: Protein and Iron

One benefit of protein: It drives blood production, especially protein that includes iron that your body easily absorbs, like from red meats, chicken, and shellfish. Your blood volume increases during pregnancy to supply your babies' blood, too. For healthy proteins that aren’t high in fat, be sure to get yours from:

  • Lean meats
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Tofu and other soy products
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Egg whites

If you're a vegetarian or vegan, ask your doctor if you would benefit from seeing a nutritionist to make sure you're getting the right amount of protein for you and your babies.

Foods to Build Bones: Calcium

You need calcium to have strong bones and teeth, and also for muscle function. Dairy foods such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are some of the best sources of calcium. Dark, leafy green vegetables also have calcium, but in much smaller amounts. Some foods have calcium added to them, including calcium-fortified cereal, bread, orange juice, and soy drinks. Check food labels to know for sure.

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Healthy Fats

Although fats get a bad rap, you and your babies need some fats to stay healthy. Just remember to pick from the healthy, unsaturated variety:

  • Vegetable oils
  • Olive oil
  • Nuts

Healthy Snacks

Still looking for a way to incorporate those extra calories? Snacks can do the trick.

By snacks, we don't mean a candy bar or a bag of potato chips. Instead stock your kitchen with cereal, nuts, fruit, and low-fat yogurt.

Adding those 500 extra calories in a healthy way can be as simple as eating:

  • 25 almonds, low salt or salt-free (220 calories) with 2/3 cup dried cranberries (280 calories)
  • 1/2 cup mixed nuts, low salt or salt-free (410 calories) and 1 large orange (90 calories)
  • 1.5 cups small pasta shells (290 calories) with 1 cup cherry tomatoes (30 calories), 1/3 cup black beans (80 calories), 2 tsps olive oil (80 calories), and a splash of vinegar

For a smaller snack of around 300-350 calories, consider:

  • 1.5 cups oatmeal (220 calories) with 7 large strawberries (40 calories) and 1/2 cup blueberries (40 calories)
  • 7 egg whites (120 calories) with 2 servings of salsa (40 calories) on 3 soft corn tortillas (180 calories)
  • 2 cups low-fat yogurt (280 calories) and 1 large peach (60 calories)

It's OK to enjoy a sweet or salty treat every now and then. But do it in moderation, just like you did before you were pregnant. Too much salt can cause you to retain water and increase your blood pressure -- which isn't good for you or your babies. And too many sweet foods will fill you up with empty calories, so you’re less hungry for the nutritious foods that you and your babies need.

While a healthy weight gain is important, don't worry too much about the numbers on the scale. If you have any concerns, talk with your doctor about your best plan to eat right for you and your babies.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD, FACOG on August 04, 2014

Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of Family Physicians: "Eating During Pregnancy."

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Your Pregnancy and Childbirth: Month to Month, Women's Health Care Physicians, 2010, "Nutrition During Pregnancy: FAQ."

Cleveland Clinic: "Good Nutrition During Pregnancy for You and Your Baby," "Nutrition During Pregnancy for Vegetarians."

Mercy Health System: "How Your Baby Grows During Pregnancy."

University Of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System: "Mid (4 To 6 Months, Aka Second Trimester)."

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: "Healthy Eating for Pregnancy and Lactation."

CalorieKing.

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