by Stephanie Margolis, R.D.
During pregnancy weight gain is a good thing, a great thing, a wonderful miraculous, amazing thing necessary to keep you and your unborn child healthy! You are asked to gain anywhere between fifteen and thirty-five pounds, which can bring a mix of emotions! But gaining too much weight can bring complications. There is no “one size fits all” pregnancy diet. But there are several important foods and nutrients to eat during pregnancy.
During pregnancy and while breastfeeding your body needs more
calories. Typically this means adding 350-450 calories per day (in
the 2nd & 3rd trimester + while breastfeeding). While pregnant or
breastfeeding, it is important you listen to your doctor and your body’s
hunger cues. If you feel hunger, add more fruits and vegetables, or a
healthy smoothie. Your body is extremely intelligent (it nurtures your
baby without you commanding it to do so!
Download this Pregnancy 411 to see how much weight you should gain during pregnancy.
Eating the Right Foods for Pregnancy
One of the great things about being pregnant is that you’re motivation to improve your eating habits is much stronger than it would be otherwise. Knowing that eating your fruits and veggies each day is not only making you healthier, but contributing to your child’s development.
Nutrition is the foundation of life and affects all aspects of human existence. For the baby, nutrition impacts birth weight, gestational age, his/ her nutritional condition, and the occurrence of birth defects. Moms may not experience nutrition related consequences immediately; however, not receiving proper nutrition can have lasting effects on you including conditions such as osteoporosis, obesity, and diabetes.
With all the information out there about diet and nutrition it is easy to become confused, or even frustrated. While there is no “one size fits all”, a healthy lifestyle can be boiled down to three easy words: Balance – Variety – Moderation.
Balance: A healthy lifestyle is much like a balancing act where we must match the amount of energy we put into our bodies (food) with the amount of energy we spend each day (exercise and activity). Balance also means focusing on foods from all of the food groups; grains, fruits, vegetables, meat/protein, dairy, and fats. Eating from each of these groups allows your body to receive all the nutrients it needs to function properly and deliver nutrients to the placenta.
Variety: Not only is it important to eat from each of the food groups, it is essential to eat a variety of the foods within each group. For example, eating from the meat/protein group does not mean eating only grilled chicken it is also important to eat beef, fish and nuts. All of these foods provide your body with protein, but each one has its own little kick of special nutrients – such as omega-3 fatty acids in found in fish (more on that in the Pregnancy 411 packet).
Moderation: Eating a balance and variety of food may seem exciting as you feel many restrictions you were placing on yourself being lifted. However, it is important to do the previous while staying within a calorie limit. Portion control is probably the most important thing when looking at your current eating habits. Most of you could tell me that fruits and vegetables are excellent choices, while chocolate chip cookies are not the best snack. I am not going to tell you not to give into your craving, you can have a cookie (not a jumbo cookie!) just be sure that you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables throughout the rest of the day . We live in a super-sized economy so it is hard to know what a serving size really is. The easiest place to start is by reading the nutrition label on the side of your food packages.
Balance, Variety and Moderation are just the basics of pregnancy nutrition. In addition, it is important you know what to eat while pregnant, how many calories you should consume, what foods to avoid during pregnancy and why a slow & steady weight gain wins the race! Find all of this in our Pregnancy 411 packet.