Monthly Archives: March 2013

Pregnant: eating for two? Not really!!

ID-100142236Pregnancy is a very beautiful phase in a female’s life. She is loved and cared for even more than before. With it comes the responsibility of having a correct lifestyle and a healthy diet. Our adults always used to propagate the concept of eating for two; which is obsolete now. Guess you all will agree with me on this point.

The entire duration of pregnancy is divided into three trimesters; one trimester with three months each. Fetal growth is slow in first, increases marginally in second and exponentially in the last trimester. To cope with this growth calorie, protein and intake of other nutrients also needs to be increased. A woman who has been well-nourished before conception begins her pregnancy with reserves of several nutrients so that the needs of the growing fetus can be met without affecting her health. These reserves help her during first months when nausea makes it difficult to get proper nutrition from diet.

Additional calories are required during pregnancy to support the growth of the fetus, placenta (support system of fetus inside the womb) and maternal tissue. Extra calories (approximately 300 kcal which is like our one meal) should be added only in the second and third trimesters (in lieu of fast fetal growth).  So that means only one extra meal and not one extra person….

Proteins are equally important; if a female is deficient in proteins it may lead to several risks like fetal growth at mother’s expense or poor growth of baby or number of cells in tissues particularly in brain may be less. Out of the total protein consumed per day at least 50-60% should come from good quality proteins. (to know more)

A generous fat intake is needed (only for those who are gaining weight normally) to meet the essential fatty acid requirements not only to provide energy but for brain development of the fetus and storage for future use (read milk production).

Talking about vitamins and minerals; needs of all the nutrients which are essential for blood formation increases. This includes folic acid (deficiency of this can lead to severe malformation of brain and/or spinal cord of fetus),vitamin B12 and iron. To meet the additional needs gynecologists recommend the intake of supplements during pregnancy. Calcium is another nutrient of utmost importance. Deficiency of calcium during pregnancy can weaken the bones of the mother, poor stores for the fetus which continues with poor milk production in lactation.

Not only in case of pregnancy but all of us should include iodized salt in our diet as it is the only daily source of iodine for us besides seafoods. But more so during pregnancy because poor iodine intake can lead to birth of a cretin child (poorly developed brain).

Apart form the regular sonographies (generally thrice during the entire period), weight gain is considered as the best indicator of a healthy pregnancy. A total addition of 10-12 kg to the pre-pregnancy weight is considered healthy. The progressive weight gain during pregnancy: 1.5 kg in the first three months.In each subsequent months: average gain should be 1.5 kg/month.Maximum weight gain occurs only during the second and third trimester. Excess weight gain can also adversely affect the health of both mother & fetus and may also increase the risks during labour.

Coming back to our original issue of eating for two. What is important is to eat enough so as to have sufficient amount of nutrients in the body to meet the increasing demands of the growing fetus which can be met by having a balanced diet. Let me share a small secret; when I was carrying my daughter I don’t remember eating one square meal; initially because of nausea and later due to acidity. Still she managed with a decent birth weight; thanks to eating small frequent protein and fiber rich snacks.

What was your secret? Why don’t you share yours?

Image Courtesy: Stuart Miles

Weight Gain OH! Not Again

weightHave you ever stood in front of a mirror and said Why ME? I don’t even eat sweets…. Well…sweets are not the only culprit which change your hour glass shape to a spherical one. Knowing the causes of weight gain might help you in coping with it…

No one likes the needle of the weighing scale to inch up on a regular basis. But it does for most of us. Biggest culprit is the way we live our lives – Our lifestyle. Changes in life style due to rapid urbanization have contributed to the rise in weight gain. Significant lifestyle changes such as desk jobs, an increase in the number of hours devoted to television viewing, inclusion of convenience foods, frequent eating out are some of the factors which can be accounted for the bulging waistline.

Is urbanization the sole offender? Before you start blaming India Shining let’s take a look at our genes. Obesity tends to run in families, suggesting a genetic cause. It is believed that obesity is a hereditary condition.  Most researchers put forward an argument that family members tend to share similar lifestyles and diets that may contribute to obesity. But numerous studies have refuted environment / lifestyle as the only cause. In one such study done by Department of Psychiatry, Philadelphia twins who were brought up apart were studied and it was concluded that their BMI were closer to each other. In this case, the person’s genetic makeup had more influence on development of obesity than environment in the adoptive family home.

Weight gain can also be as a result of energy imbalance where energy intake has been more than the energy use over a period of many years. This involves consuming excess calories than required or not using the ingested calories by doing physical activity. Physical activity plays a key role in energy balance because it uses up calories consumed.

Apart from these, psychological factors may also influence eating habits. Some people tend to overindulge in food, as a response to negative emotions such as boredom, sadness or anger. They may also overeat as a way of dealing with stress or depression.

Some rare illnesses can cause gain in weight. These include hypothyroidism (diminished activity of thyroid gland), Cushing’s syndrome and certain neurological problems that can lead to overeating. Certain drugs such as steroids and antidepressants may also lead to weight gain.

Though comparatively lesser in proportion Eating Disorders like binge eating, night eating syndrome have also been mentioned as a cause of weight gain. It takes a combination of things to develop eating disorder — including a person’s genes, emotions and experience. Biological abnormalities can contribute to binge eating. For example, the hypothalamus (the hunger centre of brain) may not be sending correct messages about hunger and fullness. Depression and eating disorders are strongly linked. Low self-esteem, loneliness, and body dissatisfaction may also contribute to eating disorders.

Binge eating is characterized by compulsive overeating in which people consume huge amounts of food while feeling out of control to stop. Binge eaters often eat even when they are not hungry.  Those suffering with night eating syndrome consume more than half of their daily calories in the latter half of the day and even arise from sleep to eat.  These disorders are completely treatable with psychological help and motivation.

Now, maybe, you would have found out why that devilish needle is going up all the time. No… Not a problem. For those who have still not been able to decipher the reason of weight gain can blame it on their slow BMR. (Read more on BMR in subsequent write ups)

Image Courtesy: Akarakingdoms