Dieting and Pregnant—Is it safe?

dieting

Proper nutrition is essential to a healthy pregnancy.  The diet of a pregnant woman should include recommended daily amounts of foods from each food group, including four or more servings of vegetables, two to four servings of fruits, four servings of dairy products, six to eleven servings of breads and grains, and three servings of protein sources, to ensure uptake of essential vitamins and minerals.  In addition, pregnant women are often encouraged to incorporate a prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement into their diet.

The caloric intake of pregnant women should be greater than that of non-pregnant women with pregnant women consuming 2,500 calories a day. In general, this is 100 to 300 more calories for pregnant women. Thus, although pregnant women are not actually “eating for two”, an increased caloric intake is necessary to “fuel” the growing nutritional and developmental needs of expectant mothers and babies. Such food consumption sets the stage for weight gain.  Specifically, pregnant women should expect to gain approximately 15 to 40 pounds, depending on their pre-pregnancy size, with most weight gain taking place in the last 3 months of pregnancy.

To avoid excessive weight gain, pregnant women should adopt a pregnancy diet that’s not very different from a healthy diet anyone can follow, including avoiding “empty calories” from fats and sugary foods, eating the right portion of foods, and choosing a variety of foods to obtain essential nutrients and minerals. Research shows that women who avoid excessive weight gain by adhering to a healthy, calorie controlled diet greatly reduce their risk of pregnancy complications. As well, increasingly, women are encouraged to ensure better pregnancy outcomes by establishing optimal preconception health.  By limiting weight gain before and during pregnancy, women are much more likely to be able to lose the “baby weight” following pregnancy and to return to their pre-pregnancy size.

 

As a woman’s body changes with pregnancy, so does her body image. Women should pursue strategies to embrace one’s evolving self and recognize that pregnancy is for a limited time. One’s body image will change again following pregnancy. Dieting to limit weight gain is not recommended and can be harmful to a developing baby.  Maintaining healthy eating and physical activity habits can best shape one’s pregnancy body size and image. Additionally, women can plan to lose weight after pregnancy by exercising and breastfeeding. Both activities are beneficial for mom and baby.

 

 

References:

http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/eating-right-when-pregnant

http://www.nutrition.gov/life-stages/women/women-pregnancy

http://www.choosemyplate.gov/pregnancy-breastfeeding/pregnancy_weight_gain.aspx

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18101423

http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/eating-well/pregnancy-diet.aspx

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/nutrition-two-7/gaining-weight

Dr. Gareth Forde

About Dr. Gareth Forde

An obstetrician-gynecologist, a clinical professor, a researcher, and a father of five—and he delivered them all! He speaks and publishes extensively on maternal and child health issues, where he emphasizes the role of a healthy maternal lifestyle, good nutrition, and breastfeeding on infant development. He chose the field of obstetrics because it is a celebration of life, a happy and exciting profession. “Children are a blessing and they bring joy and laughter to the world,” he says. “I cherish my work, as a doctor and a dad.” The study of genetic imprinting is a major focus of both Dr. Forde’s research and medical practice. This looks at what happens in the womb, how the genes a baby inherits are expressed (turned on and off), and how this influences the child’s health after birth. “This field holds great promise, shedding light on many unsolved mysteries in health and disease from infancy to adulthood,” he adds. Dr. Forde grew up in London, England and Orlando, Florida. He received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and is currently pursuing a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of California, Irvine. Prior to this, he practiced with Grand Rapids Medical Education Partners, a consortium of Saint Mary’s Health Care, Spectrum Health, Grand Valley State University, and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine—where he was a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology. He also has a master’s in molecular and cellular biology from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University; a Ph.D. in environmental science (computational chemistry) from Jackson State University; and a post-doctoral fellowship in biophysics from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York.”