Overweight and pregnant? How to eat right

Pregnancy is the most important period of a woman’s life because there is both happiness in the motherhood and a feeling of apprehension in the associated responsibilities that change one’s life pattern.

Pregnancy is the time when a woman is expected to put on weight and be absolutely healthy for the sake of the child to be born and in preparation for the subsequent duties as a lactating mom and thereafter. Not only for the child’s sake but for her own sake, a woman should be healthy.

Pregnancy is a phase when most women put on maximum weight. An expected weight increase is 10 to 13 kilos. What if you are an already overweight woman? The following are important rules to be considered by overweight ladies.

• If you are planning to have a baby, then please reduce your weight through a balanced diet and exercise before conceiving. Crash diets or too low calorie diets that may lead to nutrient deficiencies are harmful for your health and therefore the baby’s. For example a mother who is deficient in folic acid at the time of conception, risks having child with spinal deformities.
• Pregnancy is not the time to reduce weight.
• Try to maintain your weight during the first trimester (3 months). This is the only period of pregnancy where you may maintain or lose weight slightly (one or two kilos in the trimester) without harming the growth of the foetus.
• You need to eat for two but not twice as much. All you need is an increase of 300 kcal per day which relates to a glass of milk, an extra serving of whole grain or legume and a fruit.
• Increase your weight steadily during the last 2 trimesters.
• Try to keep your weight increase to less than 10 kilos if your BMI is between 25-29.9 and around 6 kilos if BMI is > 30.
• After delivery, total breast feeding is the best way to reduce your weight and get back to shape. You can see those numbers tumbling down on the weighing scale each month! Some women lose up to one kilo a week through breastfeeding alone.

Eating during the first trimester to maintain weight:
• Make a note of all that you eat in a day. Then assess it yourself and see where you are eating wrong. Cancel out the greasy foods, fried snacks and sweets.
• Cut down on coffee, tea and carbonated drinks.
• Instead increase intake of fresh fruits and vegetables (including cooked and as salad).
• Change over to low fat milk and curds.

Eating during the next two trimesters:
• A pregnant woman of normal weight is expected to increase 1.5 to 1.8 kilos per month during this time. But an overweight lady is expected to gain about ½ or 2/3 of this depending on the degree of obesity and caloric requirement.
• The foods you choose are important as the increased need of iron, calcium, protein, B vitamins, etc should be met with the increased eating. Give priority to protein foods like milk, nuts and legumes and vitamin rich foods like fruits and greens.

If you are aiming for an increase of 6 kilos in the last 6 months, which equals one kilo every month, then you may need to increase 250 kcal /day.

Some choices of foods that provide nutrients for 250 kcal are given below. You may note that calcium providing milk or curds is a compulsory item.
• A glass of fat free milk and an egg sandwich with one slice whole wheat bread
• ½ cup sprouted green gram , one glass of buttermilk, 2 tablespoon peanuts
• ½ cup Bengal gram sundal, one guava and a glass of milk
• A glass of milk with ½ cup ragi porridge and 4 dates
• One bowl of green salad, ½ cup paneer and a whole wheat roti
• One bowl of bran flakes with a glass of fat free milk and an orange
• 3 ounce piece grilled chicken and a cup of no fat yoghurt

Your weight increase and level of physical activity should be decided by your physician and dietician. With a little effort, it is possible to stay on track with a convenient weight increase for an overweight/obese mom-to-be. This weight control reduces a risky pregnancy and its complications delivering a healthy baby.

Parvathy R Krishnan

The author is a trained Nutrition & Dietetics expert with over 20 years’ of experience in hospitals like Vijaya Hospital in Chennai and the Armed Forces Hospital and New Mowasat Hospitals in Kuwait. She is presently a member of the Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India. Parvathy blogs at http://premadiet.blogspot.in/

More by this author:

How to reduce cholesterol in the Indian diet

Dieting tips for those at work

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