06:29 PM

Pregnancy: 10 Tips for Mindful Eating to Keep the Holidays Healthy

It’s the most tempting time of the year. Buffet tables are overflowing. Expectations for traditional dishes are running high. And calorie-laden foods are never more than arms reach away. What’s a pregnant woman to do?

Sticking to your nutritional plan all year long is necessary for your baby’s healthy development. Mindful eating during the busy holiday season is especially important, since holiday indulgence can come with added risk.

“The holidays are a time when we cook more and eat more too,” says obstetrician-gynecologist Kristin Friel, MD of LVPG Obstetrics and Gynecology–1245 Cedar Crest. “It’s important to be mindful of the risks traditional foods like raw eggs, raw fish, shellfish and unpasteurized foods can have during pregnancy.”

According to Friel, everyone needs to think through their food choices whether they’re pregnant or not. Below is Friel’s top 10 list to keep the holidays healthy during pregnancy:

1. Avoid liquid calories.

Calories add up quickly when you are drinking sugar-laden punches, soda and juices. Skip the empty calories and drink water flavored with mint or fresh fruit like orange, lime or lemon instead. It will fill you up and keep you hydrated during the winter’s cold chill. Alcohol is never safe for pregnant women – avoid it in all its forms.

2. Say no to raw cookie dough.

It’s a temptation most people should avoid. Pregnant women should never eat raw cookie dough due to the risk of salmonella.

3. Non-pasteurized cheeses are a no-no.

Soft cheeses like Brie, Camembert, goat, feta and queso fresco cheeses are often unpasteurized, which can cause listeria. Hard cheeses are generally safe.

4. Safe sipping is a must.

Like soft cheeses, homemade apple cider and eggnog aren’t pasteurized. Stick to pasteurized store brands to avoid the risk of illness and limit yourself to one serving since both are loaded with sugar and calories.

5. Practice safe sauces.

Holiday sauces often contain raw eggs. Avoid Béarnaise and Hollandaise sauce to avoid tummy trouble.

6. There’s something fishy about raw fish.

Pregnant women should always avoid raw fish, shellfish and sushi, or risk infection.

7. Caution at carving stations. 

Undercooked and rare meats are a breeding ground for bacteria. Choose medium or well-done cuts to keep your tummy happy and your baby healthy.

8. Follow safe cooking practices.

Wash your hands before you start your cooking project. It’s also important to use separate cutting boards and utensils when preparing meat or cutting vegetables.

9. Turkey talk.

Your bird isn’t safe for consumption until it reaches an internal temperature of 165-degrees. Avoid stuffing your turkey too. Instead, use a separate dish to warm up your stuffing to avoid bacterial growth and stomach ills that come with it.

10. Don’t go on an empty stomach.

Eating a small meal before you attend a holiday party can help you stick to your eating plan. That meal should include protein, complex carbohydrates, fruits and veggies. Treat yourself to small portions of your favorite foods and savor the flavor. When you’re mindful of your eating, you enjoy it more.

“Pregnant women need to be extra mindful that their getting the nutrition their baby needs,” Friel says. “That’s true during the holidays too. If you’re pregnant and unsure of your nutritional needs, talk to your doctor. Our practice performs a nutritional screen during early pregnancy and can refer patients to a registered dietitian when they need extra help and guidance.”