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Eating for Two: Healthy Ways to Increase Calories During Pregnancy

written by: Lindsay Evans • edited by: Rhonda Callow • updated: 4/1/2010

How much weight should you gain during your pregnancy? What's the best way to make those extra calories count? Find out how many extra calories to include in your diet during pregnancy and learn delicious, healthy snacks to meet those needs.

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    Normal Weight Gain During Pregnancy

    pregnant belly Your pregnant body demands an increase in calories to healthfully grow your baby. How many extra calories you need depends upon your starting weight and whether or not you're carrying multiples. For a normal weight woman carrying one baby, the typical recommended weight gain is 25 - 35 pounds. Underweight women should aim to gain 28 - 40 pounds while overweight women may gain less weight, about 15 - 25 pounds or as determined by your healthcare provider.

    A normal weight woman expecting twins should gain about 45 pounds during her pregnancy. In the case of twins or other multiples, your doctor or midwife will monitor your weight gain and give recommendations.

    You'll need to increase your calories to meet the demands of your pregnant body. Adding around 300 calories to your typical diet per day is advised during a normal pregnancy. Underweight women may add more than 300 calories per day. Overweight women should still increase calories, especially during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, but may need fewer additional calories per day.

    Always steer clear of dieting while pregnant. Intentionally adding calories to your diet each day may be something you try to avoid, but while you're pregnant your body and your baby need the extra nutrition provided by additional healthy snacks.

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    Healthy 300 Calorie Snacks

    hummus While you shouldn't worry too much about counting calories while you're pregnant, it can help you monitor your caloric intake to know which types of snacks can help you meet your weight gain goal. Strive to include protein in each snack along with fruits or vegetables.

    You can meet your increased needs by eating one 300 calorie snack per day or by eating a couple smaller snacks. The following snack combinations are around 300 calories and packed with baby-building nutrition.

    * a medium apple and a cup of low-fat yogurt (instead of a sugar-packed flavored yogurt, try adding a bit of jam or honey to plain yogurt)

    * 1 medium banana and 1 Tablespoon all-natural peanut butter

    * 1/2 cup hummus with 1/2 cup raw vegetables (such as carrots, celery, and cherry tomatoes)

    * a quesadilla made with a small whole wheat tortilla and 1/3 cup grated cheese

    * 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese with 1/2 cup fresh fruit (try pears, cantaloupe, or peaches)

    * 6 cups air-popped popcorn with 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

    * a hard boiled egg and one piece of whole wheat toast

    * 1 cup mixed salad greens with 1/2 cup shredded chicken breast

    * 1 cup sorbet or vanilla ice cream

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    Photos courtesy flickr.com creative commons license:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mestreech/1141289549/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lorenia/2828270041/