New research has revealed what should be a no-brainer during pregnancy and any other time– eating healthy improves your health. Studies have found women who exercised regularly and watched their caloric intake while pregnant gained less weight and suffered from fewer pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure during pregnancy, and pre-mature birth. This brings up one solid question for the pickles-and-ice-cream-shovelers of the pregnancy world: Should you diet during pregnancy? (I know I never considered dieting during my pregnancies) and what is a healthy pregnancy diet?
Dieting while pregnant: Good Idea?
In reality, one does not necessarily, and probably should not, diet while pregnant in the traditionally accepted sense to lose weight. Rather pregnant women should make or maintain a balanced pregnancy diet free of excessive caloric intake coupled with appropriate exercise. Many women use pregnancy as an excuse to eat whatever they want, which likely has contributed to the statistic that around 40 percent of pregnant women gain more weight than recommended.
How many calories should a pregnancy diet include?
In the first trimester, for a singleton pregnancy, you can generally add about 300 calories to your healthy caloric need prior to becoming pregnant. After the first trimester, add 350-500. Keep in mind that those who are under or overweight before pregnancy may not fit this rough estimate. Your prenatal health care provider can help you decide how your weight gain is during pregnancy. Generally, actual weight gained, lost, or not gained at all is a better indication of the adequacy of your pregnancy diet than counting calories.
What sorts of foods should a pregnancy diet include?
The food list you include in your pregnancy diet is less important than making sure that food list is balanced. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in your cravings as long as you are including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein in your diet. There are a few vitamins and minerals that are great for pregnancy, however, and foods that are high in calcium, folic acid, iron, and vitamin D are great choices. Some ideas include spinach, peanuts, oranges, cheese, yogurt, salmon, eggs, poultry, and beans. There is also a very short list of foods that should be avoided during pregnancy.
How can you avoid over eating while pregnant?
You can avoid overeating by choosing, and remembering to take, a good multivitamin. It’s suggested that pregnancy cravings may spur from nutritional holes. As a mother of four, I support this suggestion. Also, avoid the I’m-already-going-to-get-fat mindset when it comes to eating. If it’s not something you’d feel healthy to eat while not pregnant, don’t use your pregnancy as an excuse to include it in your pregnancy diet. The old eating for two adage is also false as you can see from the caloric estimate above. You do not need to double your food intake. Perception goes a long way in controlling weight gain during pregnancy.
What exercise is safe during pregnancy?
The majority of exercise is fine to couple with your pregnancy diet. The key is to keep in line with your previous exercise habits or to start slow if you are new to exercising. For instance, if you swam 2 hours a day prior to pregnancy, this level of activity would be fine during, but if you never swam prior to pregnancy and attempted a 2-hour work-out, you may have a problem. Avoid exercise that requires great balance, offers a high chance of falling on your abdomen, involves lots of jumping or bouncing, deep squats, abdominal twisting, contact sports, and high heat. If you experience any off feelings, maybe your chest hurting or abdominal pain, disorientation, dizziness, swelling, or especially vaginal bleeding, stop and consult your prenatal care provider.
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