10 Tips for Avoiding Excess Pregnancy Weight Gain

by Bonnie Berk

healthy foodsEating enough during pregnancy is a good goal. You and baby do need plenty of nutrients. However, eating for two doesn't mean twice the food. How can you nourish your baby without packing on excess pounds? Here are tips to keep your eating healthy and reasonable.

Eat a good breakfast

Skipping meals will contribute to eating in excess later in the day and may make you feel light-headed around mid morning. Also, after you sleep 6 to 8 hours a night without eating, your baby needs the calories early in the day. There is a theory that pregnant women should wake up at night to eat. I don't believe this is necessary, but try to eat a nutritious breakfast.

Plan meals

Think about what you will eat for most meals in the morning so you can budget your nutrients. Take healthful snacks such as carrot sticks, fruit, and whole-grain crackers to work. Without planning, you open yourself to whatever entices you through the day.

Choose foods both low in fat and sugar and high in fiber

Canned fruits, for instance, are usually packed in syrup. Read labels for fat and sugar content, especially salad dressings. If you choose to eat something with a high sugar content, also try to eat something nutritious such as a glass of milk. This may help prevent a spike in blood sugar that often stimulates fat storage to occur. Also, it is very common to feel hungry 20 minutes after eating a sugary food because sugar stimulates production of insulin. Fiber tends to make you feel fuller and aids in excess fat removal.

Broil, bake, or steam your foods

Even when you go a restaurant, ask about how your food is prepared. Most restaurants will accommodate your dietary needs.

Go shopping for food on a full stomach

Make a shopping list to resist impulse buying.

Eat before you go to a party or social gathering

The fuller you are when you arrive, the less chance you will be tempted to eat something you do not want.

Smuggle fruit into the movies

I can assure you that anything you buy at the movie theater is probably high in fat, sugar, or both. Plan ahead and you will save money as well.

Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day

Dehydration often is misinterpreted as hunger. If you are eating all of your nutrients and are still hungry, you might need to drink more water.

Avoid people who want you to overeat!

People love to encourage pregnant women to eat everything they themselves want but know they should not eat. It is human nature. Do not eat to please anyone. You can still be polite. Just say, thanks, but no thanks!

Eat mindfully and savor every bite!

Studies show that when a person eats with other people, there is a tendency to eat almost 750 calories more than when eating alone. Researchers attribute this to eating without thinking about what you are eating. Try this eating meditation: Take a bite of food and chew 50 times before swallowing. Notice how the food tastes and then notice how full you feel from just one bite. The more slowly you eat, the less food you will tend to consume and you will enjoy your food more.

Bonnie Berk, RN, is the founder of Motherwell and a childbirth education specialist with more than 25 years of experience working in the obstetrical and women's health fields. She is a pioneer in the field of pre- and postnatal fitness.

Berk is an author, speaker, and consultant addressing the special needs of women before, during, and after pregnancy. She is a frequent TV and radio talk show guest, has given presentations throughout the United States and has written numerous articles featured in Baby Talk, Pregnancy and many other publications. Berk has also produced two award-winning videos, Motherwell Exercise Video for Pregnant Women and Motherwell Yoga Video for Expectant Moms. In addition, she is a certified master personal fitness trainer through the IDEA Health and Fitness Association, a registered yoga teacher through Yoga Alliance, and a certified Pilates instructor by American Muscle and Fitness, Institute of Fitness Training.

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