The diet in pregnancy should consist of enough calories to maintain a healthy pregnant woman and a healthy fetus. The idea of “eating for two” is not a realistic goal and the growing fetus does not require that many calories on a daily basis, especially early in pregnancy. For some women, the thought of pregnancy weight gain may be difficult enough that they attempt to diet in pregnancy. It is unsafe to diet in pregnancy, though weight loss is not dangerous in some cases, as was once thought.
Normal Body Weight and Diet in Pregnancy
Women of normal body weight do not need to diet in pregnancy. Losing weight can lead to a lower than average birth weight infant and other pregnancy complications. The idea of starting a diet in pregnancy should revolve around eating healthy foods rich in fiber and folic acid. Fruits and vegetables, lean meats and complex carbohydrates are perfect for diet in pregnancy. Eating fewer than 2,000 calories, in most cases, may mean the pregnant woman or fetus will suffer from a lack of nutrients. The female body will protect the fetus by pulling vitamins and nutrients from any source inside the female body to maintain growth. If this is the case as a result of diet in pregnancy, the pregnant woman may suffer anemia and vitamin deficiency.
Overweight and Obese Pregnant Women and Diet in Pregnancy
When a woman starts a pregnancy in the overweight or obese range, the same calorie requirements apply. This could mean weight loss as a result of diet in pregnancy. Weight loss was once thought to negatively affect the fetus, but recent research studies have revealed that obese, severely obese and morbidly obese women do not need to gain as much weight during pregnancy as guidelines suggest.
If a woman consumes 4,000 calories a day prior to pregnancy, she may lose weight as a result of adopting a healthy diet in pregnancy. Reducing caloric intake to 2,000 healthy calories will inevitably cause weight loss, but the pregnant woman is consuming enough calories for her body and the fetus.
Herbal Supplements and Diet in Pregnancy
Most herbal supplements used for weight loss are not considered safe during pregnancy. Women who diet in pregnancy may use extreme measures like taking fat burners to lose pregnancy weight, but this can lead to severe consequences as most herbal supplements for weight loss have not been tested on pregnant women.
A Healthy Diet in Pregnancy
Weight loss can be reserved for after baby is born. Diet in pregnancy needs to consist of healthy, vitamin and nutrient rich foods that support the growing fetus. This does not mean doubling the current food intake to “eat for two” but it does mean eating more healthy fruits, vegetables and lean protein to support the hormonal and physical changes in the body. Questions about healthy diet in pregnancy should be addressed by the attending physician. The help of a pregnancy dietician or nutritionist may provide the support a pregnant woman needs for choosing the right diet in pregnancy.