From Stopping Heartburn To Avoiding Overeating And Knowing What Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy, We Share The 5 Holiday Eating Rules During Pregnancy.

Are you ready for the annual parade of food, commonly referred to as Thanksgiving, which is followed closely by another "eating" holiday -- Christmas? You may be “eating for two” this year, but don’t let your pregnancy be an excuse to overload your plate. As this festive holiday meal approaches, arm yourself with some helpful tips to ensure your meal is memorable and not regrettable.
Tiernan McKay

Use common sense
Sometimes the overwhelming appearance of a huge Thanksgiving spread can make you feel like you need to eat everything! Don’t fall into that trap. “Common sense is your best defense,” says Dr. Timothy Tsui of Cedar Sinai Medical Group in Beverly Hills, CA. If your plate is filled to the brim with every possible selection, there is probably a little voice inside your head saying, “Easy there! Isn’t this a little much?” Ignore that voice and you could be paying the price later with a bad case of pregnancy heartburn, an uncomfortable fullness, even constipation. Try to focus on the company around you and the spirit of the holiday rather than the excessive amount of food in front of you.
Rethink the Thanksgiving process
Typically, the way most of us (pregnant or not) approach the Thanksgiving meal is unhealthful. Most of us completely ignore the fact that it’s always best to eat small meals, moderate in lean protein and complex carbs and low in fat “Nutrition is really about how you eat and less about what you eat,” says Dr. Kerri Parks, an OB/GYN based in Glendale, CA. “It’s not healthy to save up and eat one big meal at the end of the day.” Dr. Parks suggests snacking throughout the day and encourages patients to pay attention to those snacks so that they’re aware of their caloric intake.

How many calories should you eat when pregnant?
How do you know how many calories to eat? Determine your ideal body weight (for example, 150 lbs), add a zero (1500) then add 200-300 (1700-1800). “Most pregnant women need to eat 1800-2000 calories a day, but not at one meal,” says Dr. Parks. “These calories need to be evenly spaced over two-hour intervals.”

What’s the harm in a good face-stuffing every once in a while? It can cause more than an uncomfortable fullness. According to Dr, Parks, “When you take in a large amount of calories at once, it causes an insulin surge, which then increases storage of fat in the pregnant mom as well as high glucose levels in the baby.”

Remember your immune system
Pregnant women are at risk for food-borne illnesses because “the immune system is lower than normal,” says Dr. Tsui. “You need to be a little more vigilant about what goes in your mouth.” Listeria and E. coli are two big culprits.

To avoid them, stay away from anything that is not pasteurized (such as some apple ciders, eggnogs and soft cheeses) and cold cuts or deli meats (which may contain listeria if they aren’t handled properly during manufacturing or at the deli). Smoked meats and fish that need to be refrigerated can also be potentially harmful because they are often not cooked. Dr. Tsui notes, “Usually if there is an outbreak of listeria, or other food-borne bacteria, there will be a recall and you’ll see it on the news, but when you’re pregnant, it’s wise to err on the side of caution to avoid any problems.”

Watch the carbs!
Dr. Susan Cohen, a Beverly Hills-based OB/GYN reminds her patients to watch the simple carbs during Thanksgiving, and throughout the holiday season. This means limiting consumption of sweets, pasta, crackers and anything else that contributes empty calories to your diet.  “During the holidays we have a tenancy to overindulge and to the average person that means gaining five to ten pounds,” she says. “For pregnant women, that could mean closer to ten to fifteen pounds.”

When you are tempted, try focusing on your upcoming delivery and ask yourself if the treat in front of you is worth a potentially more difficult experience. “A cookie here, a muffin there could mean a harder delivery,” says Dr. Cohen. “Remember, as you grow so too does the baby.”

For more on healthy eating during pregnancy:

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