Prenatal Nutrition: Healthy Eating During the Holidays (When Everything Looks So Good!)

Photo: Shutterstock / The Bump
Photo: Shutterstock / The Bump

The winter holidays are full of days of feasting. The month of December alone is full of cultural traditions that bring a plethora of tasty and sumptuous treats including cakes, pies, candies, chocolates, among other things. Most of us who are indulging in these delights will pack on an extra three to seven pounds during the holiday season. With family gatherings and social events taking priority, healthy eating and fitness often takes a back seat. When you wake up to the smell of fresh rolls, and have a choice of three desserts after your seven-course family meal, it’s especially difficult to monitor your eating habits. So during this festive season, remember that you’re not eating for two — you’re eating for one. Food enough for one is food enough for two. The extra energy required during pregnancy is only 200-300 calories a day beginning in the second trimester. Some women do feel a lot more hungry and if they’re gaining weight at a gradual rate, they should eat according to their appetite. Always choose the healthiest options available to ensure you are getting the calories from the best sources. Follow these simple guidelines to get through the holidays without feeling perpetually full to the brim.

Don’t stress about your weight. You’re carrying a baby, you need to gain weight to support your growing baby. However, don’t use this time to “Let it go” thinking you’ll get back to your normal eating habits and manage your weight in January. If you eat healthy whole foods most of the time and an occasional sweet treat 20 percent of the time, it’s completely fine.

Engage in physical activities. Have fun doing activities that are not food related; try bowling, a walk through the snow, and shopping (which goes without saying). At holiday parties, put down the egg nog and sparkling cider and make your way to the dance floor.

Bring your mobile pantry. Avoid showing up to parties and dinners on an empty stomach. Ravenous hunger will impair your decision making and you’ll be likely to select things that are less than optimal and will overeat as a result. When traveling, bring healthy options with you for the plane ride. Carry with you a small high-fiber or protein-rich snack before heading out the door. Always bring water with you as well.

Follow the two serving rule. If you have to eat seconds, make sure the first serving is small so that when you go back for seconds, both plates equal one normal sized portion. Anticipate your hunger and your family’s reaction to your bump. Everyone is going to pressure you to eat more, since you’ve got a bun in the oven. What will you do when grandma fills your plate with more yams and stuffing?

Eat slowly. Chew your food. I know it sounds absurd, but it takes 20 minutes for the brain to realize that you’re no longer hungry. By then you’ve already eaten too much. When you finish a plate of food, wait for at least twenty minutes before you go for the next round. In the meantime, fill the time with conversation, laughing and telling stories. Allowing the body time to digest. Chew your food at least 30 times before you swallow it, this means let work for your digestive system.

Keep a food diary. Yes, during the holidays – monitor what you’re eating, not only to manage your caloric intake, but to have a record of what you’ve eaten in case you have a reaction to certain foods. Set a habit in motion of being responsible about your food choices.

Drink lots of water. Water is required for all metabolic processes and if we drink enough of it you can actually help increase your metabolism. Drinking three liters of water per day will boost your metabolism by 33 percent.

Celebrate with flavor. Eating well during the holidays doesn’t mean you should forget about flavor. You can still enjoy favorite holiday foods by making simple substitutions to recipes incorporating healthier, organic ingredients. The holidays are a great time to connect with loved ones and celebrate with cheer. Enjoy the best of what the season has to offer and happy, healthy feasting.

How do you plan to stay healthy over the holidays?