Most mothers-to-be think that they need to “eat for two” for proper growth of the baby. However, “eating for two” may not always be required. If you are already above the ideal body weight (obese) or have diabetes, you need not eat for two. The amount of food that you can eat during pregnancy is dependent on your physical activity, your pre-pregnant weight, and presence of any illness.
The diet during pregnancy should be adequate to provide for:
- Maintenance of mother’s health
- Needs of the growing foetus
- Successful lactation
Your daily meals should include a variety of foods from the four main food groups:
- Fruits and vegetables. You can buy these fresh, frozen, tinned, dried or juiced. Aim for at least five portions each day.
- Starchy food. These include bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. Try to choose wholegrain options.
- Foods rich in protein. These include lean meat and chicken, fish, eggs and pulses (such as beans and lentils). Try to aim for at least two portions of fish a week, including of oily fish.
- Dairy foods. These include milk, cheese and yoghurt, which contain calcium.
Your body becomes more efficient when you're pregnant, and makes even better use of the energy you get from your food. This means you don’t actually need any extra calories for the first six months of pregnancy. Then you only need about 200 extra calories per day for the last three months. Your appetite is your best guide of how much food you need to eat and the best rule to apply is to eat when you are hungry.
First things first you need to be mentally ready, which means you are no longer feeling overwhelmed. Next start slowly, after gaining consent from your doctor. This could mean walking for 10 minutes, three days a week, then gradually increasing your minutes as you feel comfortable and ready. Exercise performed four days a week regularly, along with a good eating plan, will shed pounds; about 2 to 8 pounds per month. The key is being regular, consistent, and be patient; and the pounds will come off. Strength training at least two days per week will tone your abdominal muscles back to fighting condition. It took you nine months to gain weight; it can take four to 10 months to take it all off.
A good rule is to take exercise easy the first three months to condition your body back to the level it was before becoming pregnant. After three months you can push yourself a little bit more, making sure you are fully hydrated and eating well and that you are not fatigued, so that if you arebreastfeeding, your milk supply will be full and not diminished. Key things to look out for when exercising while breastfeeding are to make sure your urine looks very clear, which means you are well hydrated, and making sure your baby's growth is along normal, healthy lines each time you have a visit with your child's pediatrician.
(Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images)
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