Fat is necessary for a healthy body because it is used to transport nutrients. However, a little fat goes a long way. Foods that have higher levels of fat tend to be high in calories while low in nutrients. High calorie, low nutrient diets contribute to health problems from obesity to heart disease. This can be a problem at any time during your life, but especially during pregnancy. However, the fatigue and food aversions of pregnancy can make the readily available, quick high fat foods seem very appealing.
Body fat is used to store excess calories because it is so efficient. In fact, it is the only way your body will store extra calories for use later, and there is a lot of work for fat to do while you are pregnant. Because of this, your body increases its ability to store fat during pregnancy. Estrogen, one of the hormones necessary for maintaining a healthy pregnancy, increases the amount of the compound that helps fat store extra calories.
While dietary fat is not the same as body fat, there is a link to the amount of dietary fat you consume and the amount of body fat you have. In general, foods high in fat contain more calories than foods low in fat without providing any extra nutrition. Eating extra calories is the cause of increased body weight. While you want to encourage the normal weight gain of pregnancy, choosing to gain weight with a high fat diet provides your body with very few nutrients to maintain health while providing excess calories to store as fat. Weight gain alone is not a sufficient indicator of health, you must look at what you are eating to ensure you are healthy during pregnancy.
Some women find lower fat eating during pregnancy allows a more comfortable digestive processes. Many women complain of heartburn, indigestion, bloating and gassiness during pregnancy. Reducing the amount of fat and greasy foods eaten can help manage digestive discomforts. Fatty foods tend to feel heavier after they are eaten, which may become uncomfortable later in pregnancy. For women who experience problems with thier gall bladder during pregnancy, a low fat diet is essential.
Your goal should not be to eliminate fat from your diet, in fact some fats are essential to maintaining your health. Instead, aim to limit the amount of fat you add to foods when you cook and begin with fresh ingredients and lean meats. Give yourself a good two to four weeks to adjust to lower fat eating, you will probably find you feel better and have more energy. Soem women find they enjoy the flavor of the food more without added fats.
Lowering Your Fat Intake
If you decide decreasing the amount of fat you eat would be healthy for you, there are several things you can consider incorporating to your meal planning.
Eat your foods in as close to the natural state as possible. Vegetables can be steamed and eaten without added butter, cheese or oil. Fruit can be eaten raw instead of being made into pie or other dessert.
At home, flavor your foods with herbs instead of butters and oils.
When eating out, instead of selecting fried foods, opt for dishes that are baked or grilled.
Do not keep high fat snacks like chips, frozen pizza, microwave popcorns or ice cream in the house. You can always go get these foods if you decide you want them, but having them readily available usually means they will be eaten.
Purchase low fat varieties of dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese.
Cook with the leanest varieties of meat, or use meat substitutes such as beans and other legumes.