It starts out small. You gain a pound here and a pound there, and before you know it the scale is tipping into the OMG digits. You know you’re not supposed to literally eat for two, but that doesn’t make it any easier when the pregnancy cravings come calling.
Yes, pregnancy weight gain is inevitable, but too much can be dangerous for you and your baby. “Gaining too much weight during pregnancy can put moms at risk for developing gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, and can lead to having babies that are too large and require C-sections,” warns Frances Largeman-Roth, RD, author of Feed the Belly: The Pregnant Mom’s Healthy Eating Guide. Ask your doctor how much you should gain, and practice these anti-binging strategies to stay within the safe scale range.
1. Practice portion control.
Having a bun in the oven doesn’t give you license to eat everything in sight. “Pregnancy only increases your caloric needs by 300 calories—and that’s only during the second and third trimesters,” says Largeman-Roth. To prevent overeating, stick to the servings sizes (psst! peanut butter is only 2 tablespoons), pre-pack snacks, and downsize your dishes. “Instead of eating meals from a dinner plate, switch to a salad plate,” suggests Largeman-Roth.
2. Be your own chef.
Some restaurant items max out your day’s worth of calories in just one meal. Making your own food means you control the fat, calories and portions. Healthy cooking techniques can also make a difference. Choose roasting, grilling or steaming over frying and save 120 calories and 14 grams of fat per tablespoon of cooking oil.
3. Season with spices.
When was the last time you used thyme, turmeric or tarragon? If you’re not getting the most out of your spice rack, know this: Both dried and fresh herbs add flavor without extra fat and calories. So spice up your popcorn with chili powder, sprinkle cinnamon on oatmeal, and top pasta with dried oregano.
4. Eat less more often.
Eating small, frequent meals (every three hours) helps nix nausea and heartburn and keeps blood glucose levels steady. “When you keep your blood sugar level on an even keel, you’ll be less likely to grab the first thing that catches your eye,” says Largeman-Roth. “If you’re craving something salty,
that might mean you’ll go for hummus and veggies over a bag of chips.”
5. Skip the sinful sauces and calorie-dense condiments.
The calories in condiments and sauces can add up in a hurry, but with a few smart substitutions you can scale down. Take your taco: Top it with 2 tablespoons salsa instead of sour cream and save 50 calories. Other healthy swaps include tomato sauce over Alfredo, vinaigrette over creamy salad dressing, and mustard over mayo.
6. Start skinny sipping.
A grande White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks has more calories than a McChicken sandwich. Yikes! Pass on the sugar-laden sodas, fruit drinks and fancy coffees in favor of zero-calorie unsweetened tea, water or black coffee. “You get really thirsty during the third trimester due to the 50 percent increase in blood volume,” says Largeman-Roth. “To stay hydrated without racking up the calories, mix a small amount of fruit juice with plain seltzer.”
7. Pull up a chair.
Between the need to nest and your growing to-do list, it’s easy to eat on your feet when preggers, but doing so can mean extra calories. A University of Toronto study found that people who sit down to eat consume 30 percent fewer calories. Making your food feel like a meal—think table, chair, plate and cutlery—satiates the stomach and the brain.
8. Fill up on fiber.
High fiber foods deliver a double whammy; they slow digestion to make you feel full longer, plus they reduce the risk of preeclampsia and constipation. “Pregnant women should aim for 25 to 28 grams of fiber per day,” says Largeman-Roth. Get your fiber fill with plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains.