Obesity is considered a world wide epidemic. The growing problem has multifactor causes. There are systemic barriers that contribute to obesity such as food insecurity, insufficient money and recourses, housing insecurity, and limited or no access to healthy affordable food. Addressing obesity is not only crucial for our health in order to decrease the risk of chronic health conditions, but to help avoid complication in pregnancies. Trust for America's Health is a non profit group whose mission is to "promotes optimal health for every person and community and makes the prevention of illness and injury a national priority".
In their 2022 Obesity Report: Better Policies for a Healthier America states that four out ten Americans are obese and those rates are continuing to climb.
Obesity during pregnancy may increase the following risk:
- blood clots
- sleep apnea
- premature birth
- high blood pressure
- gestational and type 2 diabetes
- longer labor and possible Cesarean section
- birth defects such as heart defects and neural tube defects
Many health problems are the result of unhealthy habits. Excessive weight gain can be contributed to emotional eating, sugar addiction, and inherited eating habits from our childhood. Instead of using food for nutrition and healing our bodies, we tend to use it for a quick fix to make us feel good and fill voids. It is not uncommon to find oneself mindlessly eating in social situations. We need to learn healthier coping skills instead of reaching out for comfort foods during times of stress.
We frequently hear of fad diets making claims of a quick fix to our weight problems. It can be overwhelming when trying to figure out what to eat. The right balance of carbohydrates, fats, and protein are needed to create health and vitality. We need to avoid those diets and develop a habit of healthy eating. Food is fuel; therefore, we should eat to live instead of living to eat.
If you are overweight, consider losing weight before conception. This helps increase healthier outcomes for you and your baby. The best way to start is to:
- consult your physician
- monitor portion size
- avoid fast food restaurants
- eat 30 minutes to 1 hour after waking
- do not eat at least 2 hours before going to bed
- record your measurements and weight and keep track of your progress weekly
- find out your BMI Click Here (BMI does not take into account fat vs muscle so it should be used as a guide. It is important to have more muscle than fat) Doctors recommend a healthy BMI for women is between 18.5 and 24.9
- drink plenty of water (a minimum of 64 oz. daily if there is no medical condition that requires you to restrict your fluids) The National Institute of Health recommends that 74 oz. of water daily is sufficient for women
- eliminate soda and other high sugar beverages
- eat a variety of fresh fruit, vegetables, grains and low fat meats
- eat fish higher in Omega 3 fatty acid, such as salmon, sardine, cod, freshwater trout, flounder, canned light tuna, shrimp, crab, or scallops. There are many benefits to Omega 3 fatty acids including maintaining good brain health. To limit the risk of mercury and methylmercury the FDA has advised limits on consumption of certain fish to 4 oz. ( measured before cooking) one to three times per week
- limit unhealthy carbohydrates, sugar, unhealthy fats, and sodium.
- work up to or maintain at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic activity (such as brisk walking)
Take time and think of all the reasons for wanting to lose weight and becoming a healthier you. What's in it for you and your family? Make these reasons your WHY. Write your WHY's on note cards and place them where you can see and review them daily. Avoid quick fix diets, create lifestyle changes so you can maintain your weight and long term health. The journey is more than the number on the scale. Reaching your goal weight is just the start of your new healthier life. By modeling healthier habits, you can reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases for you and your family. You and your family deserve a quality life.
Note: During pregnancy it is generally not advised to lose weight. Discuss any weight concerns with your physician.