How to gain weight, but not too much.
SO. I was sitting in my midwife's office for my second visit since I found out I was preggers and I asked her cautiously: Do you have any suggestions for me? I'm starting this pregnancy heavier than I have been in a while, and I would love to have some tools to help control my cravings and weight gain in general. She thought about it for a few seconds and said: Well, this is a touchy subject. Honestly sometimes I talk about weight gain with my patients, and sometimes I don't. Women can get very overwhelmed with this subject, and very upset at the thought of their changing bodies and uncontrollable cravings... and rightfully so! But since you asked, here is what I suggest: go online and check out the gestational diabetes diet. Find recipes that you like and try to stick to the guidelines as best you can. Basically it's three meals a day and two snacks. Lots of water, avoid juices and sodas- don't drink your calories. And keep exercising- I know you will be tired, but keep moving. Most of my patients find that it's VERY easy to follow this diet. It's safe, It's delicious and all it is, is a low glycemic diet.
I LOVED hearing this. Personally I love when someone gives me a very definite place to start. I went home, got right online and starting finding delicious recipes that were really basic and easy to prepare. Boom! I felt empowered, inspired and like I could control myself within those guidelines.
Here is the gist of the diet- but let me be very clear and say that I have not been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. However, I am following the guidelines for this low glycemic diet for weight management purposes. If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, the steps below are great guidelines for you. Work with your practitioner to best suit your needs.
1. The diet aims to have your calories and carbs evenly distributed throughout the day by eating three meals and two snacks, or five balanced meals a day. Be consistent about WHEN you eat and the AMOUNT of food you eat at each one. Your blood sugar will remain more stable if your food is distributed evenly throughout the day and consistently from day to day. DO NOT SKIP MEALS.
2. Eat a lovely hearty breakfast! In my experience, if I have a good amount of protein with my breakfast then I will have enough energy to get to my first snack of the day with out getting shaky or foggy-headed. These are signs that your blood sugar levels are off. An example of my breakfast: I often will make hard boiled eggs in the morning with whole grain toast and some salsa or sliced tomatoes on the side. Or I will make oatmeal with almond milk, some chopped nuts, a little nut butter mixed in, topped with some fresh fruit and / or maple syrup. Pay attention to how you feel after breakfast. If you are starving or craving things in an hour, then try adding MORE protein and healthy fats to your meal. There are tons of vegetarian and vegan options out there too.
3. With each meal you have, look for a balance between carbs, fat and protein. For example a great snack is an apple AND a small handful of nuts or carrots AND hummus or some cheese. Combining a carb (veggie or fruit) with a fat/ protein (nuts, cheese etc.) will help your body to digest more slowly. You will actually feel sated, and stay sated for LONGER. Another meal example: I make a salad for lunch. In my salad I throw in (for example) nuts, seeds, beans, cubed sweet potatoes. I make sure that there is a variety of carb, fat and protein sources going into it so I actually feel fuller after I eat it. Aim to eat mostly whole unprocessed foods for your meals and you will find that you are WAY less hungry throughout the day. Eating less processed foods will truly help to control your cravings too. Win, win.
4. Limit or avoid all together sodas, fruit juices, flavors teas and sugary bottled drinks. They are LOADED with sugar (flip that bottle around and check out the label- every 4 g of sugar is a tsp. Some drinks have over 30g of sugar and that will totally throw your blood sugar out of whack). Try drinking bubbly water with a splash of juice to limit your intake of those empty calories that are found in the drinks I have listed above.
5. Milk is high in lactose, a simple sugar, so you should limit the amount you drink and find an alternative source of calcium. I use unsweetened almond milk here in our home and it's a BIG hit. We also get our calcium from other dairy sources and leafy greens as well.
6. Keeping up a consistent level of physical activity during your pregnancy is another key way to even out your blood sugar. If exercise is new to you, talk with your doctor or midwife about an appropriate amount of exercise for you. I will share in next week's post what I have been doing at the gym. Perhaps it will inspire you to find your own routine that feels awesome for you!
The diet is simply whole grains, fruits and veggies, avoid drinking empty calories, balanced meals and snacks... 85% of the time. The rest of the time, enjoy yourself. Love your body, your growing baby, this phase that is short in a life that is long. The phase (pregnancy) will seem loooong at times, it may seem never ending. It can seem as though your lovely body is further away from what you know it to be, and like the stretching and shifting of skin and bones will change you forever. Well... that is true, and it is a beautiful gift that only women get to experience. You are a Mama and you are not alone. Keep your chin up in whatever way suits you and enjoy the ride the best you can.
AND don't forget to reach out for support when you need it!
Best of luck to you this week and lots of love,