Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pregnancy Weight Gain--Gaining Just the Right Amount

"Eating for Two" goes the old saying. And that's a dream come true for women--eat what tickles your fancy, and all for a good cause!!

But too much emphasis on weight gain during pregnancy may be leading to more weight gain, delivery complications and gestational diabetes for the mom, and a larger weight gain and future health problems like metabolic syndrome and overweight for the baby.

The majority of women in the US are overweight--so to begin with, they don't need to gain as much weight since part of the weight for pregnancy is fat--stored for future breastfeeding. That means a weight gain of only 15-25 pounds, according to the Institute of Medicine--and up to 15 pounds for a BMI in the obese range. The Institute of Medicine is now discussing updating the weight gain guidelines that have been used since 1990. (for more info, see

Nutrients for Two--Making Every Bite Count!

The truth is, calorie needs don't increase that much--but the need for more nutrients does. The requirement for most vitamins and minerals increase 10-20%--but some increase by almost 50%. And when you consider that many women start their pregnancy with nutrient deficts, it's important to make every bite count during pregnancy.

Ten Tips for "Eating Expectantly"

  1. Start every day with a good breakfast. Eggs are a super food for pregnancy because they are one of the richest sources of choline, a vitamin necessary for normal brain development. Scramble them with some bell peppers or salsa to boost iron absorption. A high fiber cereal with low fat milk or soy milk, a sprinkle of flax seed and a fresh fruit is another good choice.

  2. Focus on Fiber--try to have at least 5 grams of fiber with each meal. This helps with constipation and fills you up faster. Whole grains have a treasure trove of nutrients that refined grains are missing. Half of your grains should be whole grains.

  3. Make Produce a Priority: Most pregnant women need to eat 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables a day. Start at breakfast and have a fruit or veggie at each meal and snack.

  4. Get Your Vitamin D. Researchers now believe that there is a vitamin D epidemic in the US. Vitamn D deficiency is correlated with seventeen cancers--even a possible link to autism. Current recommended intakes of vitamin D are thought to be too low and don't correlate with natural Vitamin D from sun exposure. Twenty minutes of full body unprotected sun exposure in a fair skinned person produces about 20,000 IU of vitamin D. The current DRI for vitamin D is 200 IU You'd have to drink 200 glass of vitamin D milk to get the same amount from food! Sunscreen, pollution, higher latitude and cloud cover all decrease the amount of UV rays that gets to the skin, affecting Vitamin D production. (see for more info)

  5. Vary your Protein. Lean beef and pork, cold water fish, chicken (even the dark meat), eggs, tofu, beans, and nuts--they're all good and they should all be part of your diet!

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