Pregnancy is one of the most exciting, and important, times of your life. While you may spend a lot of time dreaming about your new baby and preparing for their arrival, your body is working non-stop to provide nourishment to your baby so that they can grow healthy and strong.
This is why it is more important than ever make sure you are eating healthy when pregnant. Here are 5 Tips for Eating Healthy When You’re Pregnant to help you get started and a fun recipe for Chocolate-Chip Faux “Cookie Dough” Sandwiches!
5 Tips for Eating Healthy When You’re Pregnant
1. Read Nutrition Facts labels
For anyone wanting to eat well and make healthy changes to their diet, learning how to read the Nutrition Facts label on grocery store items is key. These labels tell us everything we need to know about the content of the food we are putting in our bodies.
At the grocery store, we can use Nutrition Facts labels to help us pick the best items, or learn that some of our favorites may not be as healthy as we once thought. When you’re preparing a meal or having a snack, the Nutrition Facts help us evaluate how many calories or nutrients we may be getting.
Remember that the numbers you see on the label are how much of each nutrient is in a serving size. So if you eat more or less than the serving size listed on the package, you’ll need to do a little calculating to understand how many calories or grams of fiber you actually ate, for example.
2. Get your partner on board
Having a support system, whether that be your partner, a friend, coworker, or even a health professional, can greatly increase your chances of trying to change your eating habits and sticking with these changes. When it comes to eating healthy, having your partner on board is even more important considering that they need to be in tip-top shape for the arrival of your little one, as well.
There is a lot of research today that shows how impactful social support can be when embarking on some sort of lifestyle change or weight-loss program. When you have your partner on board, the journey can become much easier, more motivating, and more fun.
Think about it this way: A marathon runner may be the only one actually running the race, but without the support of a coach, or her family and friends cheering her on, it would be that much harder
to cross the finish line. If both partners are involved in making lifestyle changes, you are that much more likely to get pregnant and have a healthy baby. Even if your partner isn’t involved in the biological part
of the process (i.e., same-sex couples), having your partner on board is key to maintaining a
peaceful home environment and for motivation and accountability.
3. Batch cook your meals
Preparation is the key to success with pretty much anything we can do, and that’s no different when it comes to eating. Batch cooking helps us do exactly that. It helps you save time throughout the week, and eliminates the barrier of cooking every day, which is often an excuse to order in or make something easy, but not exactly healthy.
Unlike traditional meal prepping, where you prepare every meal you’re going to eat for the week, batch cooking takes away the stress of looking up specific recipes for meals that you may or may not enjoy. Batch cooking involves cooking or preparing several ingredients separately that can be made in large batches and saved in the refrigerator to eat throughout the week, like roasted veggies, cooked grains and legumes, baked chicken, etc.
Chop and prep other fresh ingredients like raw veggies or greens that you might want to snack on or throw in a salad. By doing simple prep work one day, when you need to put together a meal, all you have to do is pick and choose which ingredients you want that day and throw everything in a dish and enjoy!
4. Have healthy snacks on hand
Just like batch cooking can help save us during the week when we don’t want to be cooking every night, having snacks that are readily available in times of need can be a life saver. This is especially true if you’re not someone who spends all day at home or has constant access to a kitchen. Even though snacks are not part of the meal plan I lay out in my book, What to Eat When You Want to Get Pregnant, it’s important to be prepared by having snacks on hand that you can take anywhere.
Snacks like low-sugar energy bars, trail mixes (without chocolates), or other shelf-stable options like crunchy chickpeas can help keep you from overeating at your next meal due to being overly hungry.
5. Replace old habits with new ones
Often it is difficult to change our diets and make those changes stick because of our existing habits. The good news is, we are capable of changing even deeply ingrained habits, although it won’t happen overnight. The key is to be persistent and repetitive, and instead of going cold turkey on your habits, finding a replacement behavior, such as going for a walk when you’re tired instead of reaching for sweets, increases the likelihood that you’ll be able to break your old habits.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they decide to change their eatinghabits is to change too much too fast. Trying to enact every change at the same time can leave you feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and with no margin for error or slipup. For the best results, take baby steps and keep it simple! Choose something that is easy to implement and something that you can do habitually without too much effort.
Here is a fun, healthy recipe to try.
Chocolate-Chip Faux “Cookie Dough” Sandwiches
Instead of using ice cream or frosting as the middle of your sandwiches, this recipe calls for bananas. Frozen bananas that have been sliced prior to freezing whip up to a consistency (and sweetness) similar to ice cream, but with none of the fat or added chemicals. Not to worry, these cookie dough sandwiches don’t contain eggs, so you can lick the spoon with no fear. Plus, the dark chocolate provides you with lots of antioxidants, making it a guilt-free snack!
Makes about 2 sandwiches
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
½ cup almond meal
½ cup oatmeal
1-2 tablespoons water (if needed)
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon dark chocolate chips
2 presliced frozen bananas
- Combine peanut butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, dates, almond meal and oatmeal in a food
processor. Blend until smooth. If the mixture is too dry or thick add a little water and process
again. Remove mixture from food processor, and fold in ¼ cup of the chocolate chips.
- Divide dough into four balls, flatten slightly with a spatula, and refridgerate for about 30 minutes.
- While the cookies are chilling, make the “ice cream.”
- Using a blender, blend bananas and ½ teaspoon vanilla until smooth, sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of chocolate chips.
- Once the cookies are chilled, spoon the banana “ice crem” onto two cookies, then top them off with the remaining cookies.
- Serve immediately.
Nicole Avena, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine
and Visiting Professor of Health Psychology at Princeton University. She is the author of several
books, including Why Diets Fail, and What to Eat When You’re Pregnant. This recipe and post is adapted from her new book, What to Eat When You Want to Get Pregnant Pictures are courtesy of GinaRothePhotography