Food for Thought…Mindful Eating During Pregnancy

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When you learn you are pregnant, you’ll want to give your baby the best possible start to their new life. That will mean before you even give birth to your little one. The nine months a woman is pregnant are an amazing time of critical growth for a developing fetus. So, during this important time in your baby’s life, it just makes good sense to become more mindful about the foods you consume while you are pregnant. The choices a new mother makes about what and how much she eats cannot only provide her baby with the essential nutrients he or she needs, it can help you reduce stress and weight gain for those nine months. Being mindful of the foods you consume can also significantly affect your baby’s health- both inside and outside the womb.

Mindful eating before, during and after pregnancy is so much more than just a concept- it is a conscious state of mind and practice that encourages us to reconnect with the enjoyment and experience of eating. Mindful eating is purposeful- rather than simply eating because we are hungry, experience cravings or need comfort.

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Mindful eating is founded on Buddhist teachings which focuses on a thoughtful process; enabling us to become more aware of what we are eating and why. Research indicates that pregnancy, in itself, can be a teachable moment with regard to a variety of healthy behaviors. It is this life changing event that inspires choosing foods that are both satisfying and nourishing.  It also motivates a new mom to adapt ‘risk-reducing’ behaviors; resulting in a healthy weight gain for the 9 months she is pregnant.

Although you are now eating for two, that doesn’t mean you have a free pass to eat whatever you want, whenever you want. In fact, on the average, a pregnant woman only needs about 300-400 extra calories per day in order to gain a healthy recommended weight of about 25-30 pounds. The key to mindful eating during pregnancy is comprised of a balance diet of healthy foods, along with getting the essential nutrients both you and your baby need. Practicing mindful eating now also teaches you the basics of nutrition so you can lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating.

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Practicing mindful eating

Tips to achieve mindful eating:

* Consciously make healthy food choices

* Become fully aware of the foods you are eating and why

* Focus solely on the food that is in front of you without distractions (no cell phones, computers or television)

* Be mindful of the portions you consume

* Chew your food well so you can savor it and digest it easily

* Use your senses to enjoy your food (taste, smell, sight)

* Slow down and be present in the experience

* Become more conscious of how hungry you are, when you are full and when you should stop eating

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with grabbing a cookie or your favorite candy bar every once and a while- you should always take a moment, breathe and ask yourself…do I really need this? Becoming more aware of your cravings and why you want to indulge (quick hunger fix, something sweet, boredom) is the core of mindful eating. When become more focused on your thoughts and actions it’s much easier to nurture your body and soul. By consciously starting to make healthy food choices during pregnancy- you can begin to enjoy a healthier lifestyle. In doing so, you will be giving your precious baby a healthy start…the moment he or she is conceived.

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