Gaining weight during pregnancy is actually healthy but you cannot achieve a healthy pregnancy by eating for two. Eating healthy is of vital importance because of the food cravings associated with pregnancy.
Ideally, your body should get an extra 250-450 calories per day, as the pregnancy progresses. The ideal weight gain during pregnancy should be somewhere between 25-35 pounds. But if you are overweight, you should gain 15-20 pounds and if you are underweight, about 40 pounds, on an average.
Women who are already overweight or who gain excessive weight during pregnancy are more prone to develop complications during delivery, or gestational diabetes. They also tend to have problem with losing weight after pregnancy.
Tips For A Healthy Pregnancy
Here are some tips to avoid excessive weight gain and have a healthy pregnancy:
1. Avoid Too Many Sugary And Processed Foods
Rely more on whole grain foods like brown bread, brown rice, quinoa etc. Cut down on junk food, fried foods, cakes, sweetened drinks, pastas and fatty foods like mayonnaise, salad dressings, red meat, full-fat dairy products.
Have generous servings of vegetables, fruits, nuts and low-fat dairy substitutes. Foods rich in carbohydrates usually cause spike in sugar levels and are unhealthy for you and the baby.
2. Eat Moderately And More Often
Reduce the portion of food that you have at every meal, that way, you can have 5-6 small meals in a day. Include lots of fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. These foods are not only full of nutrients but high in fiber and water and will help you feel full and also relieve constipation.
Have healthy snacks in between like protein granola bars, low-fat Greek yogurt, or a low-calorie smoothie. This way your blood sugar levels will stay more or less stable and will not spike too much, that usually triggers fat storage.
3. Avoid Too Much Sodium Intake
Pregnancy can be demanding on the body – the growing belly causes stretch marks, puts pressure on the back and also swelling of the feet and ankles. Too much salt intake, especially in the third trimester can cause fluid retention and also high blood pressure.
Avoid canned foods, processed meats, bottled foods kept in brine, snacks and flavor enhancers.
4. Drink At Least 8-10 Glasses Of Water Daily
It is important to avoid dehydration and constipation during pregnancy. Getting enough fluids will keep you full between meals and snacks. It also prevents uncomfortable bloating as it aids in digestion, flushing out toxins and preventing weight gain. This will also help in combating the risk of urinary tract infections.
5. Be Careful With Your Cravings
It is common for pregnant women to be liberal with carbohydrates while dealing with nausea and vomiting linked with morning sickness. Do not indulge yourself too much, try to satisfy your urges while getting the required proteins and healthy fats that you and the growing baby inside you need.
So you can mix a high-fiber cereal with a chocolate topping, if you are craving for chocolate. And eat sugar free sweets and ice-creams, once a week.
6. Eat Homemade Food
Eating home cooked food is generally safer to avoid the risk of food borne illnesses such as food poisoning and to avoid food allergies especially during pregnancy.
Broil, bake or steam your food instead of frying it to reduce the calories. Even when you eat out, avoid junk food and check out the nutritional content of the foods they offer.
7. Keep Physically Active
Regular exercise is important for overall health and more so during pregnancy. Keep yourself active by exercising moderately, walking, cycling or swimming. If you are already following a workout regime, be sure to check out with your doctor if it’s safe to continue.
Discuss with your doctor if you have unusual weight gain, he/she may suggest a diet or food alternatives for you to keep your weight in check. Keep a food diary to note down if you tend to eat more when excited or depressed. It is easy to lose weight post-partum, especially if you had a healthy pregnancy and did not gain too many pounds.
My Pregnancy Plate
Here is how your plate should look like during a healthy pregnancy:
Image credits: OHSU