"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 http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/540511/)
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"
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/ for more info)
- 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!