Although good nutrition is key to a healthy pregnancy, it can be difficult to eat well when you’re dealing with cravings and people telling you to “eat for two.” The holiday season can be especially challenging with tempting sweets and rich foods at every party and gathering.
So how can you make healthier food choices for you and your baby during this season? It’s okay to indulge a bit, but it’s very important to continue getting a daily intake of vitamins that can only be found in healthy and well-balanced meals. You can still enjoy the food spread at parties without compromising nutrition by looking for healthy choices. For example, the traditional holiday turkey breast and honey ham are a great way to get some protein. But you might want to skip the sweet potato casserole, which is traditionally high in calories, carbs and fat. Instead, load up on the green bean casserole and enjoy the added benefit of Vitamin A and Vitamin C from the beans. What about dessert? The clear winner is a slice of pumpkin pie, which has nearly half the calories, carbs and fat as a slice of pecan pie.
As you know, there are certain foods which can be harmful to your unborn baby. Although cheese is plentiful at most holiday parties, you need to be extra cautious with it during your pregnancy. The FDA recommends checking the label of any soft cheese and making sure it says “made with pasteurized milk.” If you can’t check the label, avoid blue cheese, soft cheeses (including Brie, Camembert, goat cheese, feta and Roquefort) and Mexican-style cheeses, like queso fresco, queso blanco and Panela. This is because raw or unpasteurized dairy can contain harmful bacteria. If you’re not sure which cheeses are safe, ask your OB/GYN. If in doubt, don’t risk it!
Folic Acid is one of the most important vitamins to consume during your pregnancy because it aids the development of blood cells and hemoglobin. Make sure you continue eating plenty of:
- Dark leafy greens
- Dried peas and beans
- Citrus fruits, bananas and tomatoes
- Fortified breads and cereals
Pregnant women also need extra iron in their diet: 30 milligrams (mg) of iron a day. It’s very difficult to get this much iron in your diet, so ask your OB/GYN if you need to be taking iron supplements. At the holiday table, look for these foods that are rich in iron:
- Lean red meat
- Dried fruits
- Whole grains, fortified breads and cereal
Your total caloric intake is different during pregnancy, and you need to be aware of the nutritional values of every meal you eat. Your OB/GYN can determine how many calories to consume and which nutrients you and your baby need, both during the holiday season and throughout the year.