For decades doctors have warned pregnant patients that dieting during pregnancy is not suggested. Weight gain was thought to be crucial to the growth and development of the fetus, but that may no longer be the suggestion. According to research published on BMJ.com, dieting is not only acceptable during pregnancy; it may be advisable for women who are overweight or obese during pregnancy.
Pregnancy Does Not Mean Eating Whatever You Want
Many women think of pregnancy as a time when they can "eat for two", but that's not how the human body works. The body needs between 300 and 500 extra calories during pregnancy if the pregnant woman is a normal weight. Overweight and obese pregnant women need to eat healthy, controlled calorie diets as a means of controlling weight gain.
The study investigated the outcome of dietary changes and controlled calorie diets to minimize weight gain on more than 7,000 pregnant women. When women who were overweight or obese gained fewer pounds, they were less likely to suffer preeclampsia and premature birth. The women also suffered diabetes less often when weight gain was reduced.
The Ideal Weight Program During Pregnancy
While researchers don't feel there is enough evidence to push a complete change in pregnancy guidelines, I believe the information from this study simply adds credibility to what many doctors have been saying for years. Being overweight or obese during pregnancy can cause increase risk of pregnancy complications that may lead to premature delivery or even fetal/maternal death. Losing weight during pregnancy with a controlled calorie diet and exercise plan is not only safe - it's necessary for a safe, healthy pregnancy for some women. Researchers believe (and I agree) that women are more apt to take dietary advice during pregnancy because they want the best for their unborn child.
Doctors should take the time to discuss proper eating habits and possibly suggest a nutritionist or dietary consultant to talk about healthy food choices. Women who are overweight or obese can reduce total calorie intake during pregnancy instead of increasing calories to "eat for two." Nutrition plans should be established to meet the dietary needs of the pregnant woman, i.e. more green leafy vegetables to increase folic acid intake. Lean proteins, healthy fats and whole foods should replace processed and fast foods.
Eating right for baby is the right choice and now pregnant woman can make that choice without worrying about weight loss as long as they maintain a healthy calorie intake.