A study carried out in Australia at the University of NSW revealed that metabolic changes, allowing conservation of energy and extracting more calories from food, take place in women when they are pregnant. Due to this, a perfectly healthy pregnancy is possible with the fat stores obtained from this metabolic activity and additional intake of food is not required.
Apart from this, leptin, which is a hormone that gives the feeling of being full, is resisted during pregnancy. This leads to more energy extraction from food in the body. This is also a warning signal for women eating a lot more during pregnancy; there is a risk of putting on too much weight leading to complications like gestational diabetes. In extreme conditions, the baby could be at the risk of premature death from a heart disease if the mother becomes obese.
So, no matter how many excuses pregnant women are able to come up with, it is important their hunger cravings are reigned in.
10 Eating for Two
Pregnant women often indulge in the age-old cliché of “eating for two” to justify their intake of large portions of food, such as chocolate. The fact is, if you're pregnant, you shouldn't eat for two as too many calories are bad for you, as well as your baby.
The additional amount of food recommended for pregnant women is limited to 300 calories per day. If your pre-pregnancy weight is normal, gaining a maximum of about 40 pounds during pregnancy is acceptable for your health. Anything more might have an adverse effect on you and your child.
9 Overweight to Start?
If you are overweight prior to your pregnancy, it is suggested not to gain any weight during pregnancy to avoid health complications. A number of risks are associated with excessive weight during pregnancy, such as premature birth, gestational diabetes, emergency Cesarean sections, and pre-eclampsia. High blood sugar levels during pregnancy can also be quite harmful to the health of the baby.
Additionally, women who are overweight during pregnancy are quite likely to have larger newborns and have to face the risk of childhood obesity with their kids.
8 The Temptation to Binge
For many women, the temptation to indulge in excessive eating is too strong to withstand during pregnancy. Once the first trimester is over, it takes with it nausea and uneasiness, and you tend to feel more comfortable around food. Overeating becomes a habit, and since you're pregnant, it’s easy to excuse taking in as much food as possible. You're also quite likely to develop a passion for particular foods, such as ice cream, cheese, and chocolates. Your partner would have little choice in deterring you from your cravings.
You can put on a lot of weight quickly and easily in this situation; however, don't forget that losing it will require a lot of hard work later. Women find it difficult to lose the baby weight post-delivery if the gain is excessive. It can take a long time and a lot of determination to get into shape.
7 Why Do Women Overeat During Pregnancy?
There are a couple of reasons leading to overeating during pregnancy. If you’ve been following an unhealthy diet, it is likely you will overeat, as your body will demand necessary nutrients and signal hunger until its needs are met. Secondly, if you're dehydrated, you're likely to eat more, as you might misread your body's signals for water and hydration as a craving for food. Apart from the misleading message of “eating for two,” overeating can also have emotional, traditional or cultural reasons behind the act.
The truth is, a healthy woman will need no extra intake of food during the first trimester of her pregnancy. As the baby grows, the need for energy increases, and it is suggested to include an extra small snack in your routine during the second and third trimesters.
6 Emotional Overeating
Apart from biological reasons, depression, boredom, stress, fear, and anxiety can increase your trips to the refrigerator, too. During the third trimester of pregnancy, emotions tend to intensify, leading you to eat for emotional reasons. This sort of emotional appetite will draw you into a vicious cycle where emotions will trigger overeating, and overeating will trigger further emotions. You will eat because you're stressed and you might gain a lot of weight. As a result, you'll feel stressed because of the weight and end up eating even more.
The only way to break this cycle is to understand the reasons for overeating. Once you become aware of the emotions that trigger hunger, you can start working on controlling your emotions.
5 How to Curb Emotional Hunger
Maintaining an honest food log often helps. You can write down all that you ate, along with when you ate and what was going on in your mind. You can also write about how you felt before and after eating. A week of doing this exercise will give you some sort of a pattern.
It could be that you overeat when you have a difficult day at work, or when your partner works late and you feel lonely. Whatever the reason, once identified, list everything you can do to make yourself feel better instead of eating. You could go for a walk, speak to a friend, read a book—you just need to reach for this list the next time you experience that emotion instead of going for a snack.
4 The Right Way to Satisfy Hunger Pangs
If you feel hungry in between meals during your pregnancy, you can snack on a boiled egg, boiled fresh vegetables, or nuts. These are nutritious and will satisfy your hunger. You can also include an extra small meal in your diet that consists of a small rice bowl with tofu or vegetables, an avocado sandwich, a salmon salad, or whisk yourself a smoothie out of fruits and yogurt.
Make sure that you drink water throughout the day. Eat meals that are balanced with carbohydrates, healthy fats and proteins to keep you contented. Avoid eating processed foods or snacks with too much sugar, as their nutritional value is very low and they will leave you feeling hungry pretty soon.
3 Effects of Overeating
The risk of birth defects, such as spina bifida and cardiac malfunction, is higher in women who are very heavy during pregnancy. The risk of miscarriage, high blood pressure, and pre-eclampsia is also greater. It is also difficult to see the baby during an ultrasound as the sound waves might not be able to penetrate the fat around the belly.
Pregnant women who are overweight are quite likely to have a C-section than a normal delivery. C-section comes with its own risks, such as wound breakdown at the incision and blood clots. Post-delivery, the excessive fat impacts a woman's fertility and decreases her ability to get pregnant again.
2 Predicting Obesity for the Child
A study carried out by a team of doctors from Boston Children's Hospital, Arkansas Center for Health Improvement and Princeton University, suggests that two children who have the same parents and have grown up in the same house eating the same food could possibly encounter separate risks for obesity. This depends on how much weight was gained by their mother during each pregnancy. The results of the study confirmed that a mother's excess weight during pregnancy makes her child more likely to be obese in middle school, irrespective of diet.
An expectant mother's overeating can saturate her bloodstream with extra calories. If the child's body is exposed to nine months of an ultra-rich diet, it is likely to be programmed to retain calories as an adult and be overweight.
1 Managing Your Weight During Pregnancy
Managing your weight during pregnancy is all about making healthy choices. Incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables in your snacks for a high dose of vitamins. Whole grain bread and cereals are also healthy constituents in a meal.
The dairy products you intake should be reduced-fat. You will need milk or milk products at least 3-4 times a day. However, make sure you use skim milk, so you reduce the amount of fat intake. Low-fat cheese or yogurt makes good substitutes for milk.
If you have sweet cravings, go for foods that are naturally sweet, such as fruit rather than extra sugar or artificial sweeteners, which are high in calories. Drink a lot of water, but avoid sodas and junk snacks, such as chips, cookies, ice cream, and candy. If you're in the mood to eat out, select places that have soups and fresh juices on the menu.
Get into the habit of exercising moderately as recommended by your doctor to burn extra calories gained during pregnancy. Walking, as well as swimming, is generally considered a safe and effective exercise for pregnant women. If you're about to embark on an exercise regime, make sure you run it past your doctor before starting.