1. All calories are not created equal. All foods contain nutrients, but some are more nutritious than others. “Empty calorie” foods (junk food!) contain calories but do little to help your body stay healthy. Nutrient- dense foods provide a lot of nutrition in a small volume and for a reasonable number of calories. The key to healthy eating during pregnancy is to eat nutrient-dense foods that ounce for ounce contain both the nutrients and calories you need.
2. Crossover corrects for different tastes. Food likes and dislikes are part of human nature. If you develop an aversion to broccoli during pregnancy, you can easily find the same nutrients in other foods that have a nutritional quality called “crossover.”
3. Excess calories turn into excess fat. Eating too many calories will put excess weight on your baby in the form of excess fat. You have a basic caloric need, meaning the minimum number of calories your body needs to grow and function. Eat less of this and your body must burn stored fat. Eat more and your fat deposits grow.
4. Every bite adds up. Even a little nibble may show up on your body while pregnant. An extra chocolate chip cookie each day (over your basic caloric need) adds up to an extra pound of body fat each month or an extra 9 pounds of excess fat you must shed after baby is delivered. Unfortunately it’s a lot easier for people to gain weight than lose weight. Before you are tempted to indulge, consider what you have to do to work off the extra 9 pounds gained in 9 months. Remember, it takes 1 hour to burn off 500 calories; and 1 week of one- hour-a-day of vigorous exercise to burn off the 3500 calories in one pound of fat.
5. Control weight by exercise and healthy eating. An hour walk each day is good for body and mind. Exercise burns calories from unneeded fat stores. It also stimulates your body to produce endorphin hormones, and exercise improves your sense of well-being.
6. Too much fat in the food yields too many fat on the body. One gram of fat contains 9 calories, more than twice as many as 1 gram of protein or carbohydrate. That’s what makes fat a more efficient fuel. Yet it’s also the nutrient that contributes most to unneeded weight. Body fat is the body’s fuel storage system. Everyone needs fat, but the pregnant body needs more. But excess fat in the diet is all too readily stored in the body as fuel you will never use.
7. Value the fiber factor. Pregnant women need extra fiber to speed up the passage of food waste through their slowed-down intestines. Include fiber foods such as raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, and the P foods— prunes, pears, plums, peaches, and psyllium.