Healthy Pregnancy: Don't Eat for Two

by in Healthy Pregnancy, Healthy Tips, September 3, 2009

“Are you hungry? Have more! You’re eating for two now.”

I’m pregnant with my first child, and it seems like everywhere I go everyone keeps telling me to eat, eat and eat some more. When you’re expecting, figuring out what and how much to eat can be tricky (even for a dietitian like me). Here is what I’m keeping in mind to help me stay healthy and energized. Rule #1: You’re not eating for two. Sorry!

How Much?
All moms-to-be want to make sure they’re giving their babies everything they need, but just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you have a free pass to eat whatever and whenever you want (I wish!). When pregnant, you should only gain about 25 to 35 additional pounds (give or take a few). That’s about two to four pounds in the first trimester, and then one pound per week thereafter. To keep in that range, you just need to bump up your calories by about 350 to 450 every day — and that’s only in the second and third trimesters. Don’t let others fool you; just because you have a baby on board, it doesn’t mean that you’re burning way more calories than usual and should eat twice as much to get extra nutrients or indulge crazy cravings.

If you overdo it, that can lead to too much extra weight (and more to lose after the baby arrives); plus, you’ll get stomach aches, fatigue and heartburn. Thanks to raging hormones, I’m getting enough of those without the help of extra calories! Besides, you probably don’t have a bunch of extra time now to relax and recuperate if heartburn strikes (I know I don’t). So I need to make sure my food choices are easy, healthy and things that, quite frankly, don’t make me want to puke.

Snack It Up!
So how do you get those additional calories smartly? One to two extra snacks a day does the trick. As your pregnancy progresses, snacking helps even more because the room in your abdomen becomes limited as the baby grows. I’ve found that eating small, frequent meals and snacks keeps me full, helps me get my needed nutrients and keeps an upset tummy at bay. Better still, it helps keep my energy levels high throughout the day.

Dana’s Go-To Snacks!
Here are some simple favorites that I’ve been relying on:

  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter and 1 tablespoon jelly on whole wheat bread (450 calories)
  • 6 ounces of low-fat yogurt with 1/2 cup of berries and 1/4 cup of granola (360 calories)
  • 1 cup whole-grain cereal with skim milk and a sliced banana (340 calories)
  • 1/4 cup of almonds and a string cheese (285 calories)
  • 1 apple, 1 ounce of cheddar cheese and 5 whole wheat crackers or pretzel rods (240 calories)
  • 1 scrambled egg in a whole-wheat wrap with salsa (195 calories)
  • 1/3 cup hummus and 10 baby carrot sticks (175 calories)
  • A small smoothie with fresh fruit and yogurt (200-250 calories)

TELL US: How did you eat sensibly during your pregnancy? What did you snack on?

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