We all love a bit of comfort food, but it’s easy to overdo it at Christmas. Follow our advice on how to handle the festive season when pregnant…
All the treats around at Christmas are tempting at the best of times. But being pregnant is no reason to give in and stuff yourself! In fact, it’s more important to take care with what you eat. Follow our simple tips to help you enjoy the festivities – and still stay healthy...
Although we’d love it to be true, you don’t need to eat for two throughout your whole pregnancy. It’s only in the last trimester that you should up your calorie intake – and even then by only 200 calories a day (that’s the equivalent of a small mince pie or five Quality Street!).
So while there’s no harm in having a bit of what you fancy, keeping your weight in check will help you lose those pregnancy pounds afterwards. What’s more, a recent study at Harvard Medical School suggests that weight gain during pregnancy may increase the risk of having an overweight toddler.
Eating healthily throughout your nine months will ensure your growing baby will get all the nutrients she needs. Eating up to two portions of oily fish (such as salmon, tuna or mackerel) a week is also thought to be beneficial to your baby’s brain development, according to a study by Bristol University (but don’t exceed this amount).
1) Have a bit of what you fancy, but don’t pig out. Christmas dinner is actually quite nutritious: turkey is a lean meat and full of protein, while vegetables such as sprouts, red cabbage, carrots and parsnips are packed with vitamins and minerals. Just don’t overdo it – have a small dollop of bread sauce, stick to a couple of roast potatoes, and go easy on the stuffing. Dessert-wise, Christmas pudding contains dried fruit that is good for easing constipation, but avoid brandy butter and treat yourself to a small drizzle of cream instead.
2) Steer clear of risky foods. Christmas platters contain yummy but off-the-menu foods such as Brie, Stilton, raw shellfish, pâté and cured (raw) meat like Parma ham. These could carry listeria, which can cause miscarriage or premature delivery, and you can’t tell by looking or smelling whether or not a food is infected. Keep an eye out for desserts containing raw eggs, like chocolate mousse or ice cream, as these could contain salmonella. Opt for a tasty mince pie instead.
3) Choose your tipple wisely. Current government guidelines recommend that pregnant women abstain from alcohol, due to the potential risk of harming your baby. Fret not – it’s easy to create non-alcoholic tipples that are just as good as the real thing (and you won’t run the risk of making a fool of yourself at the Christmas party!). Try a Virgin Mary (tomato juice, Worcester sauce, dash of Tabasco and a slice of lemon), tonic with a squeeze of lime, cranberry and soda, or a good old fashioned ginger beer. Or make a festive winter warmer by heating cranberry juice, a stick of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and orange zest – yum!
4) Be wary of leftovers. Boxing Day is famous for leftover turkey, and while using up spare food is an economical and generally risk-free thing to do, it’s vital that leftovers are stored properly. Make sure you only eat foods that have been refrigerated and covered so they don’t come into contact with raw meat, for instance. Turkey sandwiches and soup are nutritious, but don’t use leftovers more than two days old. If in doubt, bin it!
Snacking is big business over Christmas, with friends and family inconsiderately leaving out bowls overflowing with chocolates, peanuts and crisps. Avoiding grazing can be tough, but try to ensure you’re being as healthy as you can…
1) Go nuts
If you’re hungry, nibble on nuts and raisins. The Food Standards Agency advises that pregnant women should avoid peanuts if they, their partner or any siblings suffer from asthma, eczema or hay fever, as there’s a slight risk of the baby developing a nut allergy. However, this information is currently under review, and other experts believe abstaining may actually increase the risk of your baby developing an allergy. For now, though, you can freely eat nuts such as almonds and walnuts as they’re full of calcium, magnesium and zinc.
2) Cut down on crisps
Choose vitamin-packed crudités such as carrot, cucumber and celery to dip into houmous instead of fat laden crisps. Bread sticks are also a good option, while oatcakes make a healthy and filling base for low-fat cheese spreads or cottage cheese.
If you need a chocolate fix, there’s good news – scientists in Finland say that eating chocolate during pregnancy may make for a happier baby. Plump for the dark variety, as this has more health benefits and less fat and sugar, than milk chocolate but don’t overdo it – it also contains caffeine.
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