Dieting: Third trimester dieting?

I am due in 11 weeks. I eat only three meals a day, exercise and drink plenty of fruit juice. So far I have gained 45 pounds. I am so disgusted with myself that I am reverting to strictly fresh, uncooked vegetables and fruit. How can I minimize any further excess weight gain without harming my baby?

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

The third trimester is definitely not the time to go on a weight loss diet. In fact, it may be that some of the weight you have gained is fluid. It is common for fluid retention to increase during the last few months of pregnancy. Your weight may continue to fluctuate quite a bit during the next few weeks until delivery because of this water retention.

Your doctor has suggested that you watch what you eat, but did not advise that you restrict your eating. During the third trimester, some very important developments are occurring in your baby that require proper nourishment on your part. It is during the last months of gestation that calcium is being laid down in bones. Therefore, you need to be sure your calcium intake is adequate. You should be consuming at least a quart of milk or its equivalent per day.

Babies are rapidly storing iron to get them through the first few months of life when iron intake will be low. Therefore, you need an adequate iron intake, as well. The best sources are red meats, but you can also get iron from certain vegetables and legumes.

Eye, brain and nerve development are being completed, and important components of fat are necessary. Especially good are the oils from fish and flax seed. Your baby is also putting on pounds during this last trimester, at the rate of up to two ounces per day during the ninth month. Therefore, you don't want to be in a calorie or protein deficit.

Some ways you may keep weight gain within a proper range is to limit your food intake to only highly nutritious foods that deliver the nutrients you and your baby need. There is little or no room in your diet for things like cakes and cookies that have calories but little else to offer.

Choose foods with the most nutrition for the least calories. For example, choose skim milk instead of two percent, eat melon or strawberries for fruit instead of dried or canned fruits. Eat skinless chicken breast instead of the leg.

Look for hidden sources of excess fat in your diet. Cut out high-fat salad dressing, omit butter on your bread or vegetables, avoid gravies and full-fat ice cream or cheeses. It may be that the fruit juice you are drinking is adding unnecessary calories, and is contributing to excess fluid retention. Once you have the vitamin C you need from a glass of orange juice, additional fluids should be only skim milk and calorie-free things such as water, mineral water, herbal teas or decaffeinated coffee.

You can also prevent unnecessary weight gain by continuing your exercise routine. Include a brisk walk or some laps in the pool.

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