Nutrition and Pregnancy – What’s My Plan?
Becoming pregnant while losing weight might have you thinking you have to stop coming to class but that’s not the case. You’ve no doubt heard women say ‘I’m eating for two’ but that is a myth, what’s most important it that you eat a healthy and balance diet during pregnancy. So how do you balance your Unislim plan to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy weight?
Weight gain and pregnancy – how much is healthy?
The first thing to remember is that you are supposed to gain weight while you are pregnant. You are growing a baby and babies weigh up to 10lbs! So you need to gain at least this amount of weight. Then there will be the placenta (about the same weight as the baby), amniotic fluid (which is pretty heavy), extra blood (you make 25% more blood during pregnancy), and of course the fat stores for breastfeeding (which will arrive whether you plan to breastfeed or not). Official guidelines for weight gain in pregnancy are:
- If you are a healthy weight: 1 ½ to 2 stones (9-12kg)
Even if you are very overweight, you still need to gain at least 1 stone for a healthy pregnancy. Remember that you will lose most of this weight within a day or two of giving birth!
Eating for two
You need around 200 calories extra per day after 3 months. Some women will be hungrier from 4-5 months, others just in the last three. So don’t feel you have to force yourself to eat extra food if your body is not looking for it. A great approach is to keep following your Unislim plan and as you get hungrier add in 2-4 extra bites per day.
Do pay attention to your hunger. You might find that you are eating a slightly bigger dinner or getting hungrier in between meals. This is okay. Stick your free foods for snacks. It can be tempting to only go for treats and crisps, but your body needs extra calcium, protein, vitamins and minerals and not just calories. Snacking on yoghurt, fruit, wholegrain foods, nuts and seeds will help satisfy your hunger and nourish you and your baby at the same time.
Why do some women gain more weight?
We know that bodies come in different shapes and sizes and this is true in pregnancy as well as any other time. What can sometimes happen is that people think “Well, if I am going to get fat anyway, I might as well eat EVERYTHING”. This is especially true for women who may have been watching their weight for most of their lives. Pregnancy can become the excuse to add in all the treats and takeaways that you have been limiting. While there is no problem having an occasional treat, do remember to count it with your bites and as part of your Unislim plan. Staying on track will help you have a healthy and happy pregnancy.
What should I add in?
Eating a healthy and balanced diet before you become pregnant is important as your baby mainly lives off nutrients already stored in your body for the first 3 months or so. This means that even if you spend the first three months with morning sickness, you baby will be fine from a nutrition point of view. Remember to take Folic acid 3 months before you become pregnant and during your pregnancy.
Foods to focus on are:
Protein: found in meat, chicken, fish, eggs and beans. You need one of these foods two to three times a day. Protein has the added benefit of really ‘satisfying’ your appetite and helping you to control how much food you eat in a day.
Fruit and vegetables: Aim for 5-7 servings a day. Try adding fruit to your breakfast, a bowl of soup or salad at lunch and a good serving of vegetables at dinner. Add in a piece of fruit during the day and you will easily make 5-a-day. Keep your plate well balanced – ½ of your plate at lunch and dinner needs to be salad or vegetables.
Calcium: Growing bones need lots of calcium so make sure you are getting your 3-a-day from dairy. Low fat and skimmed milk and low fat yoghurt are great sources of calcium. Cheddar cheese is also great and you can choose reduced fat options. If you don’t take dairy, talk to your GP about calcium supplements as it is very difficult to get enough calcium without dairy. Calcium fortified plant milks can help. Green vegetables, almonds and sesame seeds will give you a little extra calcium but it won’t be enough for what you need.
Fibre: There is nothing like pregnancy to slow down your digestive system and fibre is great for helping to keep everything moving. Fibre also makes it easier for you to stay at a healthy weight. Luckily the Unislim Balance Plan is full of fibre so do re-read your book and make sure you are choosing the high fibre options as often as you can. Go for high fibre breakfast cereals, wholegrain bread, jacket potatoes, lots and lots of fruit and vegetables.
Vitamin D. Many women in Ireland are not eating enough vitamin D and up to 80% of pregnant women do not meet recommendations for this vitamin. It is difficult to get enough vitamin D from food alone – we are supposed to get it from sunshine. Unfortunately, the sun doesn’t shine too often in Ireland so many of us miss out. Do go for a vitamin D supplement but make sure it is suitable for pregnant women – speak to your pharmacist or dietitian. Most pregnancy multivitamins do have vitamin D so they can be a good choice.