Eating healthy and exercising is hard enough for anyone. But once you’re pregnant, it’s two of the last things you feel like doing. Everyones pregnancy is different and everyones body reacts differently to being pregnant. Aside from the importance of having a healthy baby, many women are concerned about the weight they will gain, how they will lose it after and if their body will ever look the same. I’ve been there too. One side of my brain telling me to let go and splurge because “hey, I’m eating for two” and the other side of my brain wondering how big I am really going to get and how the heck does someone exercise or find time to eat healthy with a young child, let alone a newborn baby? I was very blessed to have a healthy pregnancy, but I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 28 weeks. I won’t forget the moment when the diabetes educator was explaining to me how to eat in order to control my blood sugar and my husband looked at her with complete denial and said “but she eats so healthy and she’s not fat!” Okay, so gestational diabetes can affect anyone and to be honest it was a blessing in disguise for me. Although I was quite a healthy eater during the first two trimesters, I was certainly eating more sweets and hot chips than normally (what pregnant women doesn’t?) and even found that my healthy meals and snacks were often not properly balanced with the correct carb to protein to fat ratio. Once I started incorporating a balanced way to eat, my belly kept growing and the rest of my body didn’t. Stabilising your blood sugar levels isn’t just important for those with diabetes and gestational diabetes, but is essential for anyone looking to lose weight, maintain a healthy weight and grow at a healthy rate during pregnancy. How I carried my weight during pregnancy and after birth is a topic that has come up with plenty of my family and friends and I want to share with you how uncomplicated and achievable it can be. Read on for my top 5 tips for maintaining a healthy weight and fitness during pregnancy.
 Go walking – everyday, just do it
Ideally, within an hour after you’ve eaten a meal. In the first trimester, you can resume your usual activities. If you keep walking, you’ll be surprised how well your fitness level will carry over into your second and third trimesters. Pregnancy is tiring, but even just a short walk around the block after breakfast helps to balance your blood sugar.
 Eat carbs at every meal, but make sure to pair them with a protein and/or fat
There is never any reason to completely cut out your carbs, and especially not during pregnancy. Carbohydrates are so important to give your body the energy it needs to grow your baby and now is not the time to reduce them. You should aim for around one serving of carbohydrates with every snack and 3 servings of carbohydrates with every meal. A serving of carbohydrates is 15 grams, so your meals should contain around 45 grams of carbohydrates. It’s really important to educate yourself on how many carbs are in a serving of the foods you buy in your regular grocery shop. For instance, rice – even brown rice has A LOT of grams of carbs per serving. There are many healthy foods that actually will spike your blood sugar a lot more than you realise. Rice was something I had to avoid completely when I had gestational diabetes. I opted for super whole grain breads and crackers that are low GI and things like sweet potato, pumpkin and berries. Its not about cutting out these healthy foods, just be mindful of your portions. Then you will want to pair your carbs with a protein and or a fat – always. If I ate an apple on its own, my blood sugar spiked. If I paired it with ten almonds, it didn’t! I also had to be mindful of my smoothie and juice intake. Smoothies are great if you add fats like avocado and nuts. Juices – even cold pressed and raw, I just avoided. Sometimes even your favourite green smoothies you will find are actually 60% or more apple or pear juice.
White bread, bread rolls, cakes, cookies, donuts… it would be best to say avoid them all together. But they exist in our world, and sometimes it’s hard to stomach the healthy stuff when you’re pregnant. Indulge, you deserve to. Just be mindful of how frequent these things are included in your diet. You don’t have to be perfect every time. Adopt an 80-20 rule, and try and balance the naughty stuff with the good stuff. Sometimes I would have some chocolate and just accept that my blood sugar would spike. Or I would order the hot chips, but eat half the restaurant portion and pair it with chicken breast.
 Hydrate and eat often
You know that saying to drink 8 glasses of water a day? It’s true, and it works. Staying hydrated will also help work against other pregnancy side effects such as stretch marks and leg cramps. And it’s not just about what you eat, it’s how and when you eat it. Having massive meals can spike blood sugar too, so aim for smaller more frequent meals and snacks. In the third trimester, when there is less room for your stomach, you will find this way of eating works better anyway.
When you are working full time and growing a baby, you’re really doing two jobs at once. Find ways to pamper yourself when you’re pregnant that doesn’t always involve food indulgences. Once Bub arrives, try and get as much sleep where you can. Sleep when the baby sleeps, nap when your baby naps or with your older baby instead of being tempted to fit in exercise. If you aren’t getting adequate rest, exercise isn’t going to work optimally and you may risk burnout. Childbirth – Caesarian or natural is a massive event for your body to endure and requires a long healing process afterwards. It’s important to take it easy, let go of everything you think you need to be doing and just focus on your recovery and that little angel you’ve brought into the world. Fitness will come back, your body shape will too and you will eventually find time to make your healthy meals again.
 Breastfeed, if you can
Breastfeeding combined with walking was the ultimate way for me to combat unwanted weight gain after birth. Most people think that pregnancy is the time you will gain the most weight, but it could easily pile on after. It is very difficult to take care of yourself when you have a newborn at home. Self hygiene gets neglected for most of us, so that goes without saying that exercise and healthy eating fall far off the radar. Severe sleep deprivation causes many of us to reach for copious amounts of coffee and quick fixes wherever we can. Allow yourself to do what you need to do to survive these early days. I had a fair few cinnamon scrolls this last year and I firmly believe that getting outside and walking five or more days a week (not in the first few weeks though) on top of extended breastfeeding helped me to lose the pregnancy weight relatively quickly. It takes nine months to put the weight on so don’t expect it all to come off in the first couple of months.
What did you do to stay healthy and active during pregnancy?
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