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Erin van Vuuren

Holiday Eating for Moms-to-Be

Eat healthy this holiday season without missing out on all the action.

The holidays are upon us, and you know what that means: casseroles, roasts, fudge, and tables full of pies. Every year, you’ve promised yourself to take it easy on the calories, but now that there’s a baby on the way, you actually have to get serious about this “healthy eating” thing. So what’s a girl to do when the holiday buffet rolls out? Here are a few tips .

Ask before you eat
Make sure you know what your grub is made of. “Even if you’re at a restaurant, don’t be shy,” says Nicole Meadow, MPN, RD, and our resident expert. “It is your right to ask a question about how something on the menu is prepared or what’s in it.” According to Meadow, you want to steer clear of items containing any raw ingredients, soft, unpasteurized cheeses, and cold deli meat, which can be breeding grounds for listeria. Another surprising no-no: raw sprouts. (They’re known to carry E. coli.)

Go natural
To boost the chances of a healthy pregnancy, Meadow suggests eating foods that are not processed and staying away from those with high fructose corn syrup. “Getting back to a natural diet is essential,” she says. Does this mean you have to pass on all the good stuff? No way. Just be aware and practice moderation.

Be skeptical of seconds
Your fetus is more susceptible to bacteria than you are, so it’s best to fill your dish at the beginning of a party (that is, before the food has been out in the open for two hours or more). If you get a hankering for seconds, reach for safe items like veggies, fruits, and breads.

Don’t arrive hungry
If you’re attending an event where lots of food will be served, don’t starve yourself beforehand to “make room.” That will only result in scarfing down more than necessary after that first run to the buffet. (And remember, eating for two does not mean eating double—you only need about 300 extra calories per day when pregnant.) So, before you head out, grab a handful of almonds or whip up a quick banana smoothie.

Plan ahead
Spend a lot of time on the road during the holidays? Save yourself from drive-thru meals and gas station snacks by packing a cooler of fruit, healthy (or at least healthy-ish) munchies, and sandwiches for the ride. And if you aren’t so motivated? Look for healthier menu choices, like the Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich at Wendy’s (320 calories, 7 grams of fat), or a “Fresco” Style Ranchero Chicken Soft Taco at Taco Bell (170 calories, 4 grams of fat).

Map your plate
Keep those gravy cravings under wraps by reserving portions of your plate for specific food groups. Meadow recommends saving half of your plate for fruits and veggies, and keeping portion sizes small when scooping up fatty and carb-loaded items. Try this plan for your plate: ½ fruits and veggies, ¼ carbs, and ¼ meats or other protein.

Don’t deprive yourself
The dessert spread is beckoning. Should you lock yourself in your car until it’s over? Nah—relax and grab a (small) dish. It’s important not to go overboard with junk when you’re growing another human inside you, but denying yourself the joy of Aunt Ida’s fudge isn’t necessary. It is time for celebrating, after all!

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