Diet Plans for Overweight Pregnant Women

Pregnant mother lying in sitting room, cuddling young son to stomach, close-up
Diet Plans for Overweight Pregnant Women (Image: Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Women must gain weight during their pregnancy to support their developing baby, but weight gain recommendations vary based on a woman’s size prior to pregnancy. Women who are overweight may be advised to gain less than their slimmer counterparts. Overweight pregnant women still require extra nutrients for their babies, making following a healthy eating plan crucial.

Weight Gain Recommendations

Woman on a scale
How much weight a woman should gain depends on her prepregnancy weight. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

With few exceptions, women are expected to gain weight during their pregnancy, because their bodies must be able to support a baby’s growth. However, how much weight a woman should gain depends on her prepregnancy weight. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises that overweight women, or those with a BMI of 25 to 29.9, should gain around 10 pounds less than the average woman, or between 15 and 25 pounds. In contrast, an obese woman with a BMI of over 30 should only gain between 11 and 20 pounds for her entire pregnancy.

Dieting and Pregnancy

Young woman washing lettuce at kitchen sink, close-up of hands
Adopt a healthy eating plan that includes many nutrient-rich, low-calorie foods. (Image: Tay Jnr/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

While 15 pounds might not seem like much, the March of Dimes recommends that overweight pregnant women not try to diet in order to keep weight gain minimal. This caution refers to fad diets and excessive calorie restriction. What they should do, however, is adopt a healthy eating plan that includes many nutrient-rich, low-calorie foods. While it may be tempting to aim low, overweight pregnant women should aim close to their recommended daily caloric intake throughout their pregnancy.

Foods to Eat

Woman preparing bell peppers on cutting board
Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are high on the list for overweight pregnant women. (Image: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are high on the list for overweight pregnant women. They generally contain vital nutrients for pregnancy, such as folic acid, vitamin C and iron. They are also low in calories but filling. Try a fresh spinach salad with a slice of whole-wheat toast, or apple wedges mixed with berries for a satisfying but healthy snack. In addition, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products are important sources of both protein and calcium. Low-fat Greek yogurt, baked chicken breast and green beans are healthy choices for overweight pregnant women. Oils and sugars are not completely off the list, but you should limit their quantities.

Portion Sizes

Learning to measure portion sizes is an important skill for any pregnant woman, especially one who is overweight. A serving of meat should be about the size of a deck of cards, and a serving of bread is a single slice. The serving size of vegetables and dairy is 1 cup, while that of fruit is 1/2 cup. Women who pay attention to their serving sizes can potentially avoid eating too much, even of a good thing.

Other Advice

Bay Leaf and Pepper Oil; Lemon Vinegar
Try using less salad dressing, or cooking with olive oil spray instead of butter. (Image: Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Because it can be difficult to drastically change eating habits once you find out you are pregnant, instead focusing on controlling portions and intake by simply by giving up the extras. Try using less salad dressing, or cooking with olive oil spray instead of butter. Switch to whole-wheat pasta and substitute fruits for higher fat, sugary desserts. Treats are still OK from time to time, but instead of eating a whole slice of cake, try a smaller sliver instead and savor the taste.

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