Beat the Treats: 10 Healthy Eating Tips Every Pregnant Woman Needs to Survive the Holidays

Fit & Healthy Pregnancy is a friendly, comprehensive guide to exercising before, during, and after pregnancy from athlete-moms, Dr. Kristina Pinto and Rachel Kramer, MD.

candy corn, candy, halloween candy, halloween

It’s almost Halloween, and you know what that means? Candy. Lots of it. And before you know it, turkey and green bean casserole won’t be too far behind nor will milk and cookies by the tree. When you’re pregnant, these all might sound too good to resist. But you won’t be doing yourself or your baby any favors by shoveling down Snickers bars, especially if you’re training during pregnancy or trying to remain fit. That’s why we’ve put together this list of healthy eating habits to properly fuel your pregnancy throughout the holidays!

1. Eat small meals every few hours

Eating that huge meal on Thanksgiving Day might be tradition, but small meals every few hours will help you avoid a drop in blood sugar, which is a risk in early pregnancy because of the major metabolic changes happening. It will also prevent nausea and dizziness, particularly an hour or so before a workout and right after you finish, when your blood sugar is likely to be low.

cupcake, cake, desserts2. Forsake the simple carbs for complex ones

Everyone wants the holidays to be simple, but when it comes to your carb intake, it should be anything but simple. Those enticing cupcakes sure sounds good around snack time, and are fine in moderation, but your body and baby will be thanking you if you opt for complex carbs, which will help give you that necessary energy to fuel your workouts and your pregnancy, not to mention they’ll leave you feeling fuller longer.

3. Water, water, water

Cider and eggnog are perfect for the fall and holiday season, but when you’re pregnant, water’s got to be your go-to drink. Staying hydrated is extremely important, especially in early pregnancy when your vascular system pumps less blood relative to the expanded capacity of your circulation. Strive for about eight 8 oz. glasses every day.

4. Gain a safe & healthy amount of weight

No need to keep up with Santa Claus when it comes to gaining weight. Beginning around week 12, a woman who is a normal weight before pregnancy will want to be gaining about a pound per week. This will mediate the force on your joints when you exercise. Believe it or not, a 20 percent weight gain can increase the force on a joint by up to 100 percent during a workout. Gaining a healthy amount of pregnancy weight can also prevent hemorrhoids, back pain, varicose veins, stretch marks, and shortness of breath as you get into the third trimester.

vegetables, veggies, healthy food, healthy food for pregnant women5. Eat high-fiber foods

Although preparing for the holidays will get you moving, your digestion might not follow suit. Constipation becomes more likely in the second trimester, so it’s a good idea to eat foods that are very high in fiber, which is most readily available in plants and plant-based foods.

6. Don’t forget your vitamins & minerals

When that tryptophan puts you to sleep, remember iron. Iron is critical to preventing fatigue and feeling weak and is known to stave off depression. It also acts as a key player in tissue repair, which is a major issue for athletes who want to continue training while they’re expecting. You’ll find iron in meat, but it’s also in beans, raisins, and enriched cereals such as Total.

Vitamin C is also another key nutrient during the second trimester because it helps your body to absorb the iron that you need. It’s also useful for fighting infection and boosting your immune system, so shoot for three servings a day.

7. Reduce your salty-food intake

Put down that potato chip at the Halloween party and find a carrot. Avoiding salty food is especially important during the third trimester, which brings on swelling as a result of water retention. Eating a lot of salty food will exacerbate your body’s tendency to retain fluids, so look for low-sodium options.

habanero peppers, spicy peppers, spicy food, foods to avoid when pregnant8. Avoid too much soda, hard candy, and spicy foods

The holidays fill our hearts with warmth. But when that warmth is heartburn, say no to Dr. Pepper, Jolly Ranchers, and habanero salsa. Also, try sleeping propped on pillows to lower your risk of heartburn.

9. Adequate calcium

Frosting doesn’t count. Calcium is key to a fit pregnancy, especially if you’re planning to breast-feed. Your pregnant body will leach calcium from your bones to support the growth of the baby through your milk, so it’s common for a new mom to find herself low on calcium. And for athletes, in particular, adequate calcium is crucial to maintain strong bones to reduce the risk of bone-related injury such as stress fractures.

10. Plenty of omega-3 fatty acids

Ever heard of a Thanksgiving salmon? While it’s smart to boost your diet with omega-3 fatty acids throughout your pregnancy, it becomes even more important in the third trimester because infant brain development depends on the flow of omega-3s provided by the mother in the third trimester and first six weeks of life. They also reduce the risk of premature birth.

So there you have it, 10 tips to beat those treats. Happy Holidays, and Happy Eating!

Fit & Healthy Pregnancy dispels generations of old wives’ tales about exercise and pregnancy. Exercise during pregnancy isn’t just safe, it’s healthy for you and your baby. This modern, comprehensive guide shows active women how to stay strong and in shape before, during, and after pregnancy.