Maintaining a Healthy Weight During Pregnancy
If you are pregnant and considered yourself to be overweight prior to conception, chances are that you have worried more than once about the additional weight gain that comes along with carrying a child. While embarking on a ‘weight loss plan’ is not healthy or recommended during pregnancy, there are ways to maintain and control excessive weight gain through a healthy diet and daily activity.
Why Traditional Dieting is Harmful
A restrictive diet that reduced your calorie intake is one of the most dangerous things you can do to manage your weight gain during pregnancy. You should actually be eating about 500 more calories a day — not cutting them. Restrictive diets do not just limit calories, they reduce the intake of vital nutrients your body and your baby receive from the foods you would be eating such as iron and folic acid. These nutrients are essential to the growth and development of your unborn child – so it’s imperative that you make sure they are incorporated in your daily diet. The easiest way to make sure you are getting at least the recommended amounts of these nutrients is to take a daily prenatal vitamin. These will help fill the gap between the nutrients your body needs and what it’s getting from your food intake. If however, you are worried about excess weight gain, managing what you eat can help you stay on track and gain appropriate amounts of weight on schedule with your pregnancy.
What Should You Be Eating?
Your body has different needs during pregnancy. All of your body systems are essentially in overdrive, and carrying an extra workload to help develop and nurture your growing bundle of joy. Eating a balanced diet and including more of certain groups is going to be a big help in not only maintaining a healthy weight gain but also making sure you are
getting the nutrients you need.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that the average pregnant woman should be eating roughly 71 grams of protein per day. Protein is most commonly found in meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and dairy. It’s recommended that you include some source of protein in every meal and snack as this promotes healthy fetal development and keeps mom’s energy up as well.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are just as important to your pregnancy diet as they are to your normal diet. You should be including 2-4 servings of fruit and 4 or more servings of vegetables daily. These foods are very rich in nutrients including Iron, Vitamins and folic acid that are essential to baby’s health.
Breads and Grains
While many trying to maintain a healthy weight would think that carbs are conducive to weight gain, this is not so. Healthy carbohydrates are a primary source of your energy during pregnancy and provide essential nutrients including B vitamins, folate, fiber, protein and iron. Eating 6-11 servings of bread and grains is recommended during pregnancy.
Maintaining healthy weight gain during your pregnancy is not about restriction – it is about eating what your body needs for you and baby and avoiding what it doesn’t. Some doctors recommend avoiding large meals and instead trying 6 small meals and snacks throughout the day. Staying active during pregnancy is also important. While many exercises are off the table, walking, jogging, swimming and low impact aerobics keep you moving and are great for managing your weight and promoting mom’s health during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor before making any major dietary or activity changes while pregnant to avoid complications.