Having a big meal (or three!) over the holidays is always a must and there are many reasons for this. One is because we want to have a big celebratory meal with friends and family and another is because holiday food is something we typically have only on special occasions and it’s too darn tasty to miss out on!
Being pregnant can limit your options for appetizers as discussed in Part One of this series, but the main event – typically a big turkey dinner with all the usual sides – is safe to dig into. However, some of the foods may not be the healthiest for you and for baby and so I’ve put together a list of healthy substitutions you can make and some tips and tricks for eating healthier around the holidays!
Good Foods to Have from the Holiday Table
Being a lean white meat, turkey is an excellent source of protein during pregnancy. Definitely make sure you get enough protein during the holidays but don’t forget to balance it out with vegetables to ensure you get a good blend of nutrients for you and baby! Organic is best but conventional is ok if you’re on a budget, just make sure to not eat the skin if using conventional. And save the bones for bone broth which will be extra helpful for boosting your immune function over the coming winter months. Either freeze the bones or make the broth and freeze it in cubes or in freezer safe containers that are BPA Free.
Non-Dairy Based Vegetable Dishes
Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Mashed Potatoes, Salad, Beets, Sweet Potatoes etc. are all wonderfully nutritious foods for you and baby. Try to ensure that there isn’t a ton of dairy on them though as dairy can weaken your immune system, create mucous and phlegm and can cause digestive upset as well. Some butter and milk in your mashed potatoes is ok, but I’ve made wonderful mashed potatoes without them using earth balance and almond milk or even the boiling water in their places. If your family tends to overdo the cheese and cream over the holidays, offer to bring a side dish along so that you have at least one safe option.
Tips and Tricks to Keep Your Holidays Healthy
- Be Mindful – Don’t just eat because food is in front of you. Your health and that of your growing baby are a conscious decision with every food or drink you put in your mouth. Think about what you are eating and why and trust me, your life will change for the better. Mindful eating tends to increase your nutrition which makes you feel better, look better and give you an overall sense of wellbeing.
- Offer to Bring Part of the Meal – This is one of my favourites as it ensures that you have a safe option that you know you can feel good about eating before you dive into the things you know you probably shouldn’t.
- Don’t Worry About Offending Anyone – Sometimes we have family members who can feel offended when we don’t eat what they have brought or made. These family members mean well and if saying no doesn’t satisfy them or doesn’t feel right to you then feel free to place the blame elsewhere by saying “My Dr. recommended I stay away from this and that for a month or two because I was having digestive issues, heartburn, nausea (basically anything)”. Most people will accept this and those that don’t will go on a rant about your doctor but at the end of the day if someone of authority has “told” you to do something then they will likely judge it not your fault and spare you the guilt trip! OR if you’re like me and go to a minimum of three family meals per holiday then you can definitely pull the “I’m still full from yesterday and baby is kicking my stomach” card. You’re pregnant, they’ll understand.
And the MOST important tip of all is this – Do what you feel your body is telling you. You’re going to have to trust your instincts a LOT as a mom so consider this a starting point. Feel like you need a second helping of turkey? Maybe your body is craving protein for baby. Are those scalloped potatoes chock full of cream and cheese calling your name? Be mindful about it and if you feel that’s what your body needs then perhaps baby is signalling the need for extra calcium for bone building and the mucous aftermath is worth it. It’s your body and your baby and you will make the right choices for you if you listen to your body and give it the thought it and you deserve!
Have a WONDERFUL holiday season!!