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Healthy Eating When Dining Out During Pregnancy

Katlyn Joy | 8, July 2014


It is hard enough at times to eat the way we should while pregnant, but add the challenge of a fast-food restaurant or even a sit-down restaurant, and it can seem virtually impossible. Here are some tips for enjoying a meal away from home, and especially free of a hot, messy kitchen, yet healthy for you and baby.

1. Limit your dining out.

While it can be done and done healthy, it isn't the easiest thing to do. To be certain your food doesn't contain unhealthy or even unsafe ingredients, your best bet is cooking your own food in your own kitchen.

2. Choose the restaurants carefully.

While most any chain will offer healthy options, some have more healthy options than others. If the place is known for its fried foods, chances are healthy choices will be few and far between. If you are fighting horrid indigestion, rethink your favorite Indian or Mexican restaurant. Use your pregnancy trump card to be the chooser of the restaurant.

3. Start with a good beverage choice.

Many times we think we are hungry, when we are really mostly thirsty. Pregnant women are even more prone to dehydration. To avoid the trap of overeating, start with drinking plenty of good old h2O. You can also enjoy juices and milk. Lemonade and other soft drinks that are not carbonated are your next best choices, and last choice should be a carbonated but non-caffeine drink. Nix the caffeine drinks like coffee, caffeinated teas including iced varieties, and sodas. It should go without saying, nothing with alcohol.

4. Don't fill up on bread.

How many times has your mother told you that while out to dinner with the family? It's true. If you pop a few slices of warm bread, buns, rolls or breadsticks before dinner arrives, you'll have less room for the nutritious foods your body needs most. Of course, if there is a whole-grain option, take advantage, but still watch the portion. According to the March of Dimes, you need 6 ounces of grains daily in the first trimester, 7 in the second, and 8 ounces in the last trimester. One ounce equals an average sized slice of bread.

5. Watch the sodium.

You need to be especially watchful if your blood pressure is crawling upwards as your pregnancy progresses. Big culprits include soups, which we often consider healthier choices. Look for healthy options listings on the menu, and take advantage of the option of special requests. An upside: if you order fast food fries without salt, you are guaranteed a hot fresh batch!

6. Pick a protein.

Not necessarily a meat-based dish, and certainly not necessarily a red meat. You can have eggs, legumes, fish or chicken as the main source. Just avoid fried or heavily battered choices. Go with grilled when possible. Ask for a sauce on the side, and skip gravies. Remember, a portion size is roughly palm-sized cuts of meat. You need only 5 ounces daily in the first trimester, 6 in the second and 6 1/2 in the third trimester.

7. Don't ruin the veggies.

If your veggies are deep-fried, swimming in a fatty sauce or smothered in cheese or creams, you are not making a healthy choice. Go for steamed veggies in a light preparation. Go for sweet potatoes rather than fries. Order a salad containing a variety of vegetables rather than meats or croutons, and with a light dressing on the side.

8. Enjoy fruit au natural.

In other words, don't plop them on a big scoop of ice cream and deem it nutritious. Nor should you count apple pie as a fruit serving. Have some fresh fruit as a side, which is increasingly a side choice at even the most unhealthy fast food establishments. If you want embellishment, opt for yogurt.

9. Don't worry about asking.

Ask for ingredients or cooking methods. Ask if you can have the pasta with grilled rather than fried chicken. Inquire whether your soup is cream based. See if a low fat or low sodium diet is on the menu. You aren't being a fussy customer, but a conscientious mother-to-be.

10. Watch out for unsafe foods.

If you are concerned at all about cleanliness, go elsewhere. Don't eat foods made with anything unpasteurized or containing raw eggs, such as many Caesar salad dressing. Don't eat hot dogs or lunch meats unheated. Never eat undercooked or raw meats.

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