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Ten tips for avoiding excess weight gain during pregnancy

This is an excerpt from Motherwell Maternity Fitness Plan by Bonnie Berk.

1. Eat a good breakfast. Skipping meals will contribute to eating in excess later in the day and may make you feel light-headed around midmorning. Also, after you sleep 6 to 8 hours a night without eating, your baby needs the calories early in the day. There is a theory that pregnant women should wake up at night to eat. I don't believe this is necessary, but try to eat a nutritious breakfast.

2. Plan meals. Think about what you will eat for most meals in the morning so you can budget your nutrients. Take healthful snacks such as carrot sticks, fruit, and whole-grain crackers to work. Without planning, you open yourself to whatever entices you through the day.

3. Choose foods both low in fat and sugar and high in fiber. Canned fruits, for instance, are usually packed in syrup. Read labels for fat and sugar content, especially salad dressings. If you choose to eat something with a high sugar content, also try to eat something nutritious such as a glass of milk. This may help prevent a spike in blood sugar that often stimulates fat storage to occur. Also, it is very common to feel hungry 20 minutes after eating a sugary food because sugar stimulates production of insulin. Fiber tends to make you feel fuller and aids in excess fat removal.

4. Broil, bake, or steam your foods. Even when you go a restaurant, ask about how your food is prepared. Most restaurants will accommodate your dietary needs.

5. Go shopping for food on a full stomach. Make a shopping list to resist impulse buying.

6. Eat before you go to a party or social gathering. The fuller you are when you arrive, the less chance you will be tempted to eat something you do not want.

7. Smuggle fruit into the movies. I can assure you that anything you buy at the movie theater is probably high in fat, sugar, or both. Plan ahead and you will save money as well.

8. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Dehydration often is misinterpreted as hunger. If you are eating all of your nutrients and are still hungry, you might need to drink more water.

9. Avoid people who want you to overeat! People love to encourage pregnant women to eat everything they themselves want but know they should not eat. It is human nature. Do not eat to please anyone. You can still be polite. Just say, thanks, but no thanks!

10. Eat mindfully and savor every bite! Studies show that when a person eats with other people, there is a tendency to eat almost 750 calories more than when eating alone. Researchers attribute this to eating without thinking about what you are eating. Try this eating meditation: Take a bite of food and chew 50 times before swallowing. Notice how the food tastes and then notice how full you feel from just one bite. The more slowly you eat, the less food you will tend to consume and you will enjoy your food more.

More Excerpts From Motherwell Maternity Fitness Plan