Wondering what to eat when pregnant with twins? Check out our tips and suggestions for the healthiest twin pregnancy diet.
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Congratulations! You’re pregnant with twins! You’ve likely heard by now, “Oh! How wonderful! Now you can eat for 3!” Or, “You’re so lucky! Now you can eat whatever you want!” While your doctor has probably told you that it’s not that easy, you might have some questions about what you should eat to have the healthiest twin pregnancy. We’ve got you covered with our guide on what to eat when pregnant with twins.
How can I keep my pregnancy healthy with twins?
One of the best ways to support a healthy twin pregnancy is with your diet. Meeting your nutritional needs will not only help with your babies’ development, but it will help you feel better too. There are ways to optimize your diet and get the most out of what you’re eating when pregnant with twins.
Keep a Food Journal
Track your nutrients, cravings, portion sizes, and water intake. Track foods that trigger nausea and foods that help keep it at bay. As you get closer to delivery day you might find it harder to get all your calorie and nutrient needs met. Use your food journal to make sure you’re optimizing your intake. A food journal also makes it easier to share what you’re eating with your doctor.
Prep what to eat ahead of time
One of the hardest parts of eating when pregnant with twins is your energy (or lack thereof). This makes it all too easy to grab quick (and often unhealthy) munchies. If you’re too tired to cook or prep food every day, try meal planning and batch cooking when you do have the energy. Cook what’s needed for the week after grocery shopping or make extra portions when you cook, then freeze or refrigerate the rest.
Take supplements as needed
If you’re having a hard time getting all those vitamins and minerals from food, discuss the necessary supplements with your doctor. If your supplements, such as iron or prenatal vitamins, increase your morning sickness, try taking smaller dosages throughout the day with food.
Seriously this is not the time to worry about your figure or weight goals. Your doctor will monitor your weight but only to ensure you’re gaining enough and not gaining too much, neither of which is good for your babies. If you’re gaining weight too rapidly, your doctor will help you.
How much should I eat when pregnant with twins?
You would think that feeding two growing babies plus yourself means you can eat as much as you want. While it is true that you do need extra calories when pregnant with twins, it’s not a free for all by any means.
Your doctor will determine the exact number of calories and water you need daily using your height, weight, and activity level. In general, experts recommend an extra 600 calories daily in the first trimester, 700 in the second, and 900 in the third.
That said, the source of those calories is more important than simply meeting that daily goal. Rather than counting calories, focus on fitting nutrient-dense foods into every meal and snack you eat when pregnant with twins.
Speaking of snacks, they are one of the best ways to support your diet when pregnant with twins. Whether it’s morning sickness in your first trimester or a lack of room in your third, small, frequent meals and snacks can help. Opt for choices that contain plenty of protein, iron, and calcium such as fruit and yogurt, trail mix, whole grain cereal and fortified milk, hummus and veggies, peanut butter and whole grain toast, or scrambled eggs with veggies.
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What should I eat when pregnant with twins?
While you may be eating for three, this doesn’t mean you should throw diet and nutrition requirements out the window. In fact, it can be harder to eat enough and meet the nutritional needs of yourself and your growing babies. So before you help yourself to extra servings of pizza and dessert, be sure you’re maximizing your nutrient intake.
Focus on the quality of your food, rather than the quantity. You likely know the basics of a healthy diet with plenty of whole foods like fruits and veggies. It’s important to eat all of that when pregnant with twins, however, you also have more specific nutritional needs.
Protein is the building block of a healthy body aiding in the development of your babies’ muscles and organs. To optimize this development, aim for about 175-200 grams of protein every day when pregnant with twins. Try to meet your needs with various sources of protein such as:
- Lean meat: chicken, turkey, beef, and pork
- Protein powder mixed into yogurt and smoothies
Iron supports red-blood-cell production. It can be hard to get enough iron when you’re not pregnant, let alone eat enough when pregnant with twins. As such, twin pregnancy is more susceptible to anemia leaving you feeling extra tired. Aim for 30-60 milligrams of iron daily by adding iron-rich foods to your diet such as:
- Red meat, chicken, and fish
- Beans and legumes, such as lentils and chickpeas
- Iron-fortified cereal
While it can be hard to meet your iron intake needs, you can help your body absorb iron. Pair your choices with foods containing vitamin c such as orange juice, broccoli, or strawberries to help with absorption. Keep in mind that caffeine can inhibit absorption.
Ask your doctor about an iron supplement if you’re having a difficult time meeting your needs.
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Calcium is vital in the development of strong teeth and bones. Unfortunately, our bodies don’t make calcium; if you don’t consume enough for all three of you, your body will take some from you for your babies. When pregnant with twins, aim to eat 1500-2500 mg of calcium per day through foods such as:
- Leafy greens such as spinach, collard greens, and kale
- Dairies such as milk, yogurt, and cheese
- Calcium-fortified orange juice
- Nuts and seeds such as almonds, sesame seeds, and chia seeds
We all need fat in our diet for energy and to support cell function. The key is to consume unsaturated fats such as:
- Pregnancy-safe fish (no more than once a week)
- Oils such as olive, canola, flaxseed, vegetable
- Nuts, especially walnuts and nut butter
- Avocados can help with morning sickness and help you to gain weight if needed. They’re loaded with folic acid, which helps babies’ brain growth and development.
- Peanut butter
What should I avoid eating when pregnant with twins?
While we’re focusing on what you can eat, you also need to know what to avoid. Ask for more information and a complete list of foods to avoid from your doctor. In the meantime, avoid:
- White carbohydrates as twin pregnancy has an increased risk of gestational diabetes. Try to eat whole-grain carbs instead.
- Foods with an increased listeria risk such as deli meats, unpasteurized, raw, or undercooked food (unpasteurized cheeses, sushi, pate’ and sprouts); Deli meats need to be microwaved to steaming to kill bacteria; toasting sandwiches is not enough.
- Artificial sweeteners as reports are contradictory regarding safety during pregnancy. So why take a chance?
- Certain herbs/spices such as rosemary, aloe, ginseng, and some herbal and berry teas which can start contractions.
- Alcohol as even small amounts have been linked to birth defects. Be aware of foods made with alcohol too.
TWINIVERSITY TIP: At social gatherings, try a faux spritzer: sparkling water garnished with fruit such as a lime wedge or strawberry garnish. Or add a touch of juice. Tummy upset? Try ginger ale with a cherry garnish.
You should also limit your intake of certain foods such as:
- Caffeine as it’s a diuretic. Use less than 12 oz daily (avoid if you have heartburn).
- Soft drinks or more than 8 oz juice as they are full of sweeteners, which may cause sugar spikes. Instead, try the faux Spritzer (noted above)
- Hot spices which can cause heartburn
- Processed foods (baked goods/pre-packaged foods) as they have added sugar and saturated fats
- Fried foods that are loaded with trans fats as they’ll pack on the pounds but not in a healthy way
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How much water should I drink when pregnant with twins?
Staying hydrated not only helps your babies grow, it also helps you feel better. Drinking enough water can ward off preterm labor and decrease constipation, swelling, and other bothersome pregnancy symptoms. Aim for 8-12 cups, or about a gallon of water every day. To help make sure you meet your water intake goals, invest in a large and sturdy water bottle.
What can I eat to help with morning sickness when pregnant with twins?
If you suffer from morning (or all-day) sickness or heartburn, avoid eating big meals. Instead, eat smaller meals throughout the day. This also helps level out blood sugar. Don’t lie down after eating and be sure to drink in between meals. Experiment with safe spices, such as ginger, cinnamon, and mint to help with nausea. Try gentle foods high in carbohydrates, such as:
- Pretzels, crackers, bread
- Brown rice, noodles, broth
- Nuts or peanut butter
- Pickles, celery sticks, apple slices
- Watermelon, gelatin, popsicles
- Juice (low acid), seltzer, sparkling water, ginger ale
Make the Most of What You Eat When Pregnant with Twins
It’s important to meet your nutritional needs when pregnant with twins but try not to stress too much. Discuss your individual needs with your doctor, find a healthy balance, and stock up on your favorite easy snacks and meals. Most importantly, make healthy choices for optimum growth and development of your babies. Eating right while pregnant will not only be good for your babies but for you too!
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Lorraine Conforti is a proud new mom of twin boys and pet-parent of two cats and a dog. Being both conservative and artistic, she describes herself as “a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll.” She enjoys the arts, music, writing, and had performed in a Blues/Rock band with her Husband for several years. She is also passionate about health and fitness and has held certifications for nutrition and Personal Training, and has earned a BS Degree in Healthcare Management. For articles by Lorraine on Twiniversity, click here.
In What to Do When You’re Having Two: The Twins Survival Guide from Pregnancy Through the First Year, national twins guru and founder of Twiniversity (and twin mom herself!) Natalie Diaz provides a no-holds-barred resource about life with twins, from pregnancy and birth all the way through your duo’s first year of life. BUY NOW