Those cravings can get the best of you when you are trying to maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy. However, gaining too much or too little can affect the health of the little one growing inside of you. Learning how to satisfy those cravings with needed nutrients and manage your weight during pregnancy can assist in keeping you and your baby healthy, but also keep you more comfortable as your body continues to change.
Recommended Weight Gain
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), most women will gain two to four pounds during the first trimester and one pound a week for the duration of the pregnancy, ideally gaining a total of 25 to 35 pounds. Overweight women, though, need to gain only 15 to 20 pounds or less, depending on pre-pregnancy weight, according to the NIH, and underweight women may need to gain anywhere from 28 to 40 pounds.
Fuel Up with Protein
A key element in maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy involves fueling your body with necessary nutrients for both mom and baby. Quality proteins are a must-have for your diet, says Rania Batayneh, a nutritionist and author of "The 1:1:1 Diet." Batayneh recommends proteins rich in omega 3, such as eggs and beans, to give you energy to exercise but also help you feel full after meals.
Stock Up on Vitamins
Beyond taking a prenatal vitamin and folic acid each day, pregnant women can also make healthy food choices to maintain their weight while getting necessary vitamisn. According to Batayneh, green leafy vegetables offer vitamins A, C and K, as well as folate, while sweet potatoes offer a healthy dose of vitamins A, C, folate and fiber to keep you feeling full. Add some lentils to your diet, too, to boost your iron intake.
Even though you may feel uncomfortable with the added physical strains of a pregnancy, it's important to keep your body moving to maintain a healthy weight. Incorporate daily walks into your routine and opt for the stairs when possible. Simple yoga exercises and stretches may also reduce some of your discomfort while carrying your child. When exercising, though, it is crucial to keep yourself hydrated, says Sharon Richter, a Manhattan-based registered dietitian. "Pregnant women need to drink water during exercise and eat within an hour after some protein for muscle repair and carbohydrates," says Richter.
Count the Calories
A balanced diet complete with vitamins and nutrients will pave the way for a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Calorie counting can ensure that you are providing your baby with just the right amount of fuel to grow and develop. According to the National Institutes of Health, pregnant women should consume 1,800 calories per day in the first trimester, 2,200 calories per day in the second and 2,400 calories per day in the third. Make the most of these calories by fueling your body with meals that provide calories and nutrients, such as fruits, leafy green vegetables, proteins and fiber. Batayneh recommends meals such as scrambled eggs with spinach and whole grain toast or steak and broccoli stir-fry served over quinoa to keep your calorie intake within the recommend limits while also fueling your body with vitamins, protein and fiber.