Tuesday, February 1, 2011

PREGNANCY- Healthy Eating during pregnancy, NOT "Eating for Two".

Although I can't say I've been pregnant and gone through the whole "craving" thing, there is a line that shouldn't be crossed during pregnancy. Many women in fact do use being pregnant as an excuse to overeat and over indulge in almost anything and everything, when in fact, you are doing more harm than good to your body. I promise that if you are planning on becoming pregnant or are pregnant now, your post-baby body will thank me if you follow the healthy guidelines to eating right during pregnancy!
There is an extra allowance of calories during each trimester of pregnancy, but empty calories and an entire big mac + fries is NOT the way to go, especially on a regular basis. 
For the extra calories you're allotted (don't worry we'll get to exact numbers soon) during pregnancy, you want to go with foods that are nutrient rich and offer healthy benefits to you AND your developing baby. Calcium is crucial to help with the formation of bones and tissue throughout fetal development. Folic acid is also very important (is in many breads and whole grain foods such as lentils, tortillas, pasta, as well as spinach, etc.), it prevents spina bifida, miscarriages, and birth defects. You can also take a prenatal vitamin to assist in getting your essential vitamins and nutrients while pregnant if you are worried you may not get adequate amounts from your food. Empty calories, refined sugars, high-saturated fatty foods are not the way to go when pregnant. These will pack on way more pounds than necessary when pregnant, without offering nutritional value, and the more weight you gain, the more weight you will need to lose after your little one is born, and it can be a struggle, especially when you don't have a lot of time to work out. The whole "baby fat excuse" isn't valid after 9 months. They say this because it takes 9 months to put it on, it should only take 9 months to get it off. But the harder and longer it will take the more unhealthy food you eat during your pregnancy.
Let's talk about numbers. The expression "well, I'm eating for two" is not a reality, people. If you were eating for two you would be eating close to 4,000 calories a day, and and at that rate you would be putting on about 5lbs a week, and we all know that's nonsense. The average, normal weight, woman doesn't need to change their caloric intake during the first trimester (an extra 100 calories/day is acceptable), and only needs about 300 extra calories a day during the last 6 months of their pregnancy. If you are underweight, overweight or have preexisting health conditions when you become pregnant, you should definitely consult your physician on what an appropriate diet plan would be throughout your pregnancy. 300 calories is really not much when you think about it, 3 oreos and an 8 oz glass of milk is 300 calories. 1 piece of fruit and a slice of toast. A bagel with cream cheese. A nice big salad. NOT a double-double, french fries, and chocolate shake, which totals about 1800 calories in itself. The occasional shake, ice cream, french fries, will not hurt you if in moderation (just as if you were not pregnant), but on a daily basis, needs to be avoided, not only for your health and weight, but for your baby. Scientific research proposes that mothers who eat an unhealthy diet while pregnant, the babies are at a higher risk for long term health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, etc. One reason gestational diabetes (diabetes of the mother while pregnant) is so high is because the amount of sugar of the unhealthy foods they are consuming can't keep up with the amount of insulin being produced by the body. So many factors, it seems complicated, but it's really not. 
Light exercise can also be maintained during pregnancy, if ok'd by your doctor. Normally women can perform light physical activity, walking, gym, etc., through their second trimester, if they are not a high-risk pregnancy. But your doctor knows what's best for you, but doing NOTHING while pregnant will not only get you out of the notion, but make it more difficult for your body to bounce back after your little one is delivered.
Bottom line, being pregnant is not an excuse to overeat and "eat for two". 300 calories extra per day is acceptable during your second and third trimester and you should try to make these 300 calories nutrient-rich, rather than icky foods that are high in saturated fatty acids, cholesterol, and refined sugars. Include a daily prenatal vitamin (make sure your doctor agrees) to assure that you are getting adequate amounts of folic acid and other vitamins and minerals that are essential to fetal growth and development. Love your body, and your baby. The average, healthy, amount of weight to gain while pregnant if you are normal and healthy-weight woman is between 25-35 pounds. If you are underweight, 27-40 pounds, and if you are overweight 15-25 pounds. Obese women should consult a physician but attempt to not exceed 15 pounds of gestational weight gain. 
Pregnancy is not an excuse to eat whatever, whenever you want. It is about maintaing a healthy lifestyle for you and your baby. The more unnecessary weight you gain during pregnancy, the harder and longer the process to take it off. Some women never do get back to the pre-baby weight, and blame it on children, but if most would have maintained a healthy diet and exercised regularly ( as instructed by a doctor), would have lost the weight in no time at all. Be aware!