Is It Safe To Diet During Pregnancy?

Diet During Pregnancy

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As a pregnant woman, you’ll hear time and again that you need to eat for ‘two’. It is normal for women to gain those extra pounds happily when they are pregnant. Gaining weight is surely essential for a healthy pregnancy.

But what if you are already overweight or obese? Do you still need to gain as much weight as other slim women? Do you want to know if dieting while pregnant is a safe option?

Gaining too much weight or being overweight during pregnancy is not safe. There are a number of complications that arise due to being too heavy while pregnant (1). But does that mean you should restrict your diet? There is a lot of controversy regarding the safety of dieting when you are expecting a baby.Can you diet while pregnant?

If you are looking to keep your pregnancy weight under check but not sure if dieting is a safe option, let us help demystify the topic a little for you!

Being Overweight During Pregnancy – Complications:

If you are obese or have gained too much weight during your pregnancy, you run the risk of developing the following complications:

1. Gestational Diabetes (GD):

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops only during pregnancy. If you are overweight, your chances of developing GD go up manifold (2).

2. Pre-eclampsia:

Pre-eclampsia is a serious medical issue that can lead to severe complications and can even prove to be fatal. Obesity increases the risk of pre-eclampsia among pregnant women (3).

3. Thrombosis:

Obese women are more likely to suffer from Thrombosis, a disorder that causes clots to form inside the blood vessel. And if you smoke, you’ll be putting your health at further risk (4).

4. Obstructive Sleep Apnea:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea can prove to be a serious cause for concern among pregnant women. It can cause pre-eclampsia too (5). Obesity increases the risk of this disorder among pregnant women.

5. Overdue Pregnancy:

When you are in the final days of your pregnancy, all you want is for your baby to enter the world quickly and safely. Unfortunately, being overweight can cause your pregnancy to buzz past your due date (6)!

6. Difficult Labor And Delivery:

Does the very thought of labor scare you? Well, for overweight women labor can become even scarier! Your chances of c-section also go up when you are pregnant (7).

7. Pregnancy Loss:

A miscarriage is the last thing pregnant women even want to imagine. But when you are obese, an early miscarriage becomes a distinct possibility as does the chance of stillbirth (8).

Apart from affecting you, being obese also puts your unborn baby at risk. Some of the problems your baby might encounter includes:

8. Macrosomia:

Obese women are likely to give birth to larger than average sized babies (9).

9. Chronic Conditions:

Babies of obese mothers are more likely to suffer from chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes later in life (10).

10. Birth Defects:

Obese women are also more likely to give birth to babies with birth defects such as neural tube defect (11).

So, it is clear that being overweight during pregnancy is not a great idea. So this scenario will push you to think Can I diet while pregnant? Let’s find out!

Dieting While Pregnant? Is It Safe?

Most people will tell you that it is not a good idea to restrict your food intake when you are pregnant. But if you listen to a study published in the British Medical Journal, dieting during pregnancy is not just safe, but can even be a good thing! (12)

According to the study, pregnant women who follow healthy diets are less likely to develop preeclampsia. The chance of gestational diabetes also goes down manifold (60%) for women on a diet, so does the risk of premature birth and miscarriage (13).

The study recommends that pregnant women limit their overall calorie intake and make sure they have balanced meals. Dieting when pregnant can be a reality.

How Much Weight Should A Pregnant Woman Gain?

If you are wondering how much weight you should gain during pregnancy, make use of this table!

In case you are carrying a singleton:

Pre-pregnancy weightRecommended weight gain
Underweight (BMI < 18.5)28 to 40 lbs. (about 13 to 18 kg)
Normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9)25 to 35 lbs. (about 11 to 16 kg)
Overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9)15 to 25 lbs. (about 7 to 11 kg)
Obese (BMI 30 or more)11 to 20 lbs. (about 5 to 9 kg)

If you are carrying multiples :

Pre-pregnancy weightRecommended weight gain
Normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9)37 to 54 lbs. (about 17 to 25 kg)
Overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9)31 to 50 lbs. (about 14 to 23 kg)
Obese (BMI 30 or more)25 to 42 lbs. (about 11 to 19 kg)

Source: 1

Experts recommend that it is safe for obese women to lose up to five kilograms during their pregnancy without causing their unborn baby any harm.

Foods To Eat During Pregnancy:

Now, it may be a good idea to go on a diet while pregnant, but that does not mean trying crash diets or fads like Atkins diet! What you need is a wholesome meal plan that will allow you to eat healthy without piling on unnecessary pounds. Remember, you need just 300 extra calories to enjoy a healthy pregnancy! So, try and fill your diet with healthy foods. Here’s a simple guide to help you plan your menu:

Protein: Go for foods like shrimp, tuna, chicken, tofu, and eggs. All these foods are high in protein but low in calories. Just what you need to manage your weight while pregnant!

Carbohydrate: Looking for carbohydrate sources that won’t make you fat? Try fruits, beans, oats, lentils, quinoa, brown rice, and potatoes.

Fats: You need some fat in your diet. But go for foods that contain ‘good’ fat that won’t lead to extra weight gain. You can add nuts, seeds, avocado, etc. to your pregnancy diet.

Apart from these, try and avoid eating processed food. Junk food is the quickest way to weight gain! So, avoid junk food and eat wholesome meals. Don’t forget to drink a lot of water and spend a few minutes each day working out to keep your pregnancy weight comfortable.

Most importantly, don’t go on a diet without consulting your doctor first.Dieting in pregnancy requires medical guidance. He is the best person to guide you in this situation. If your doctor says dieting is not a good idea, forget it for the time being!

Did you follow a particular diet while pregnant? Share with us!

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