I used to think of pregnancy as a time where calories, sugar and other bad foods just didn’t count. I looked forward to eating a pint of Ben and Jerry’s every day just because I could (who’s going to tell a pregnant lady otherwise?) and truly indulging in all my cravings. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts in trying to find evidence to the contrary, pregnancy is not the time to binge on junk. I had to repeat this to myself last night as I stared longingly at the bowl of left over Halloween candy! Instead, it’s a time to take extra care of what you are putting in your body because you’re growing a little human that depends on you for essential nutrients and its overall wellbeing. The same rules apply if you are trying to conceive. A little known fact is that a healthy pregnancy begins while the baby is still a glimmer in mom and dad’s eye. Making sure you’re on a healthy track by the time you conceive gets the baby off to a good start in life.
So what does the expression “eating for two” really mean? Generally speaking it means eating half as much, twice as often and thinking twice as long about what you consume. Everyone is different, especially in the first trimester when it can be hard to think beyond saltines and ginger ale, but eating smaller, more frequent meals can help keep your blood sugar stable and keep you feeling satisfied longer, which ultimately can alleviate unpleasant symptoms such as nausea, constipation and swelling.
“Eating for two” can also help keep your pregnancy weight gain at bay. The average woman only needs an extra 300 calories per day during pregnancy and should gain roughly 25-35 pounds over the course of 9 months. Trying to stay within this weight gain range has enormous benefits. Not only will you simply feel better (see aforementioned symptoms), but it will lower your risk for issues such as high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. Plus, it makes it much easier to get back to your pre-baby weight.
Every time you go to eat something, ask yourself if it’s something you would feed your baby. I know, what a buzzkill. But you might surprise yourself in what you’re willing to give up. This is not to say you can’t give into your cravings once and awhile - it is all about balance or you will drive yourself crazy. The point is just not to overdo it, and make sure the majority of your diet includes lean protein, healthy fats, whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables.