Congratulations, mom-to-be! Of course you're excited about the little bun growing in your oven, but you still don't want to look like you ate an entire bread factory. Whether you're in your first trimester or your third, here are some tips to keep in mind to prevent excessive weight gain during your pregnancy.
- Educate yourself on expected weight gain: Every pregnant woman will gain weight. For those with a healthy prepregnancy body weight, 25 to 35 pounds is the norm. For those who are underweight, expect to gain closer to 40 pounds, and anyone who is overweight will gain an average of 20 pounds. Expect variables, though. Many average-weight women can gain anywhere from 45 to 60 pounds during pregnancy but have no issues giving birth or shedding the weight later.
- Don't eat for two: While you are growing a human being, that little baby is a fraction of the size of an adult, so no need to feed it like one. While pregnant, you need an extra 150 calories a day in the first few months and an extra 300 calories a day for the remainder of your pregnancy.
- Fiber is your BFF: Foods that are high in fiber such as fruits and veggies, whole grains, and legumes have the power to fill you up and make you feel full longer. Eat fiber-rich foods every few hours to prevent hunger pains that cause you to crave high-calorie snacks.
- Find healthy ways to satisfy cravings: Every time you eat is an opportunity to nourish the body and help grow a healthy baby. If you always choose foods high in sugar and fat, think about how that can affect the little bundle inside of you. That said, you are a pregnant woman with needs, so find nutritious alternatives to the foods you want. Whip up this 150-calorie mango ice cream instead of reaching for a store-bought pint, or make this tomato, basil, and mozzarella quinoa polenta when you feel like heading to the nearest pizzeria.
Keep reading for more pregnancy weight-gain prevention tips.
- Keep on exercising: If you were exercising before your pregnancy, it's safe to continue, but make sure to check in with your doctor. Most importantly, listen to your body. Fatigue, a decreased sense of balance, nausea, and muscle pain might make it difficult to run like you used to; just do what you can. Also be sure to include strength training since muscle mass burns calories — here's a 10-minute yoga strength-training routine you can do at home. If you weren't exercising before but want to start, again, speak with your doctor before getting started. She'll probably recommend focusing on gentle types of movement such as walking, leisurely swimming, strength training with light weights, and yoga, as well as classes and videos geared specifically toward pregnant women.
- Get enough sleep: Between waking up every hour to change positions or pee or staying awake thinking of baby names and what color to paint the nursery, a solid night's sleep is a tall order when you're about to be a mom. But not getting enough z's contributes to weight gain by slowing down your metabolism, causing you to eat more, and making you feel too tired to work out. Make up for interrupted sleep by hitting the hay earlier or napping during the day.
- Keep a food journal and monitor your weekly weight gain: If the pounds are creeping up and you don't know why, keep track of your calorie intake by writing everything down. It'll make you realize how those extra handfuls of M&M's really add up, remind you to measure out serving sizes of everything you eat, and keep you honest about how many scoops of mac and cheese you're really eating.
- Go ahead and indulge a little: You know choosing fruit or Greek yogurt is the more responsible option when it comes to satisfying your pregnancy hunger, but that doesn't mean you should never give in to your insatiable cravings. Denying yourself that slice of cheesy pizza or hot fudge sundae will just make you crave it more, which can lead to binging later. Eat healthy most of the time, and allow yourself a small indulgence a few times a week to keep cravings at bay.