So you’re pregnant — and excited about the new baby on board. But pregnancy comes with questions, and in my experience, some of the biggest questions center around weight gain.
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I’ve written before about the myths of pregnancy and weight and about the health problems associated with excessive weight gain during pregnancy, from diabetes to high blood pressure. There are plenty of reasons why you should maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy. But how do you do it?
Start with these six tips to keep your weight on track — for a healthy you and a healthy baby.
“Protein is necessary not only for your baby’s growth and development but also for maintaining even levels of blood glucose throughout the day.”
Karen Cooper, DO
Women’s Health Institute
1. Know your BMI
Your doctor will guide you to gain the appropriate amount of weight based on your body mass index (BMI). For example, if you are within the normal range (BMI of 19–24), you will be advised to gain 25 to 35 pounds. If you are overweight (BMI of 25–29), you should gain 15 to 25 pounds. And if you are obese (BMI of 30 or more), then your weight gain should range from 11 to 20 pounds. Once you know the proper range, you can work to keep yourself within it.
2. Watch your portion sizes
Keep portions to one serving size — based on food labels and recipes — and increase your protein content to stay fuller between meals. Protein is necessary not only for your baby’s growth and development but also for maintaining even levels of blood glucose throughout the day. Good sources of protein include greek yogurt, low-fat milk, low-fat cheese, fish, chicken, eggs and lean meat.
3. Hydrate, then hydrate some more
Drink 10 to 11 glasses of water per day. It is easy to confuse hunger with thirst, and satisfying your thirst will help prevent you from eating too much. In general, your water intake should be slightly increased during pregnancy.
4. Keep yourself moving
Unless you are on bed rest, do some form of low-impact exercise daily for at least 30 to 45 minutes. Brisk walking, swimming, yoga and strengthening exercises are all appropriate during pregnancy, with your doctor’s permission.
5. Curb your cravings
If your cravings are getting the best of you, try to limit portions to one serving size at a time. Better yet, search for lower-calorie alternatives. If you have non-food cravings — such as ice, baking soda, chalk or paper — report them to your doctor immediately. These often indicate a nutrient deficiency that may be harmful.
6. Seek help
Losing and maintaining weight are hard tasks for anyone, but the cravings of pregnancy can make them even harder. Consider meeting with a dietitian early during your pregnancy for guidance on limiting excessive calories and finding healthy alternatives to high-calorie foods. A little expert help can go a long way toward a good nutrition plan.