Between hectic work schedules, family obligations and the normal stresses of everyday life, it’s hard for most of us to always eat healthy when we’re so busy—pregnant or not. But for moms-to-be, it’s especially important to get in adequate nutrition during their pregnancy. Read on for easy ways to integrate nutrient-dense power meals in your day that will satisfy your hunger and keep you (and baby) healthy.
Sure, you’ve heard it a million times: Breakfast’s the most important meal of the day. But just why is it so important? Not only does it set the tone for metabolic function, skipping out on it will probably leave you cranky and tired earlier in the day. Not a fan of a big breakfast? Go light. Try some fresh seasonal fruit and yogurt, topped off with chopped organic nuts and seeds. The nuts and seeds will slow down the burn of the fruit’s sugars. If morning sickness is really getting to you during the first two trimesters, boost your diet with high-protein snacks. Make a bowl of oatmeal and stir in flaxseed or hemp seeds, cinnamon and your choice of a light sweetener (like maple syrup, agave nectar or honey).
Keeping food on hand when you need a quick bite to eat will prevent you from impulsively buying higher-calorie foods and will probably save you cash in the long-run. Buy healthy trail mix or try making your own at home—just get some mixed nuts and seeds of your choice, add in some dried fruit, and store it in portable, reusable containers. Nut and seed butter are other great sources of protein; try packing an apple and spread some almond, cashew or pumpkin seed butter on it. (Pretty tasty!) Not only are nuts and seeds high in protein, they’re also high in zinc. You’ll want to pay attention to zinc levels if morning sickness has been really plaguing you, since the mineral is known to stave off nausea. Not into nuts? Having sliced veggies with a bean spread, like hummus, is also a great snack option.
When you’re busy, lunch is the perfect time to have an all-in-one meal, since you can pack a variety of nutrients and flavors into a simple wrap or sandwich. For example, a wrap with beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado and arugula, topped off with a nice pesto or tapenade is a great way to get a yummy and balanced one-dish meal. (Tip: Unless you have access to a fridge, be cautious about packing any meat protein for lunch.)
It’s always important to stick to a diet that contains enough high-quality fats during pregnancy. So use your afternoon snack to do this—just keep an eye on your portion size. A serving of marinated olives is a great way to be sure you’re getting in some good fats, but it also boosts your “good” cholesterol. In the mood for something sweeter? Try an acai and blueberry smoothie (check out the recipe below). Acai is chock-full of antioxidants, omega 3s and 6s and protein. It also gets bonus points for being a fatty fruit that won’t pack on the pounds. You can make the smoothie at home or buy it packaged and take it to-go.
Recipe: Acai & Blueberry Protein Smoothie
Acai is an Amazonian super-berry touted for its nutritional benefits. This berry duo offers a unique blend of antioxidants, and the omega fatty acids in the Acai make it a complete protein. With a teaspoon of powerful little chia seeds or 1 tablespoon hemp powder for an added protein kick, this energy-packed smoothie will surely become one of your favorites—babies love it too! You can find Sambazon Acai in the frozen fruit section of your grocery store.
1 packet of acai pulp (Sambazon Smoothie Pack)
1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 tsp. chia seeds or 1 tbl. hemp protein powder
1 3/4 cups water or apple juice
1/2 banana, peeled
Homemade granola for topping (optional)
Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and process until smooth. The mixture will be creamy. Place in a bowl and top with homemade granola, and banana slices. Whether you have it at breakfast, before nursing, or post-workout, this smoothie packs a powerful protein punch!
Expert source: Latham Thomas, founder of Mama Glow, co-founder of the Mama Glow Film Festival and Mama Glow Salon Series, and author of Mama Glow: A Hip Guide to a Fabulous and Abundant Pregnancy.