With the holidays coming up, it’s a great time to encourage moms-to-be to continue eating healthy even when they’re surrounded by rich food at various parties and gatherings. Below are some guidelines you can incorporate into your lesson plans that will help the moms you work with keep themselves and their babies healthy this holiday season.
Important guidelines for your moms-to-be
The easiest piece of advice to give your pregnant patients is to use common sense when it comes to food. Encourage them to focus on the people they are with and the spirit of the holidays rather than on the excessive amount of food and drinks around. By switching their focus to what’s truly important, they’ll avoid the discomforts associated with overeating while pregnant such as heartburn and constipation.
Although most pregnant women need to eat 1,800–2,000 calories a day, it’s important to emphasize that the calories need to be spaced throughout the day and not consumed in one sitting. Even overeating once in a while can have negative consequences, as an insulin spike occurs after taking in a lot of calories at one time, resulting in the storage of fat in the pregnant woman and higher glucose levels in the baby. Remind your patients that Thanksgiving and other holiday celebrations are not a license to overindulge.
Explain that the consumption of simple carbohydrates such as pasta, crackers, and sweets needs to be kept to a minimum. Overindulging in too many of these foods can lead to weight gain of 10 to 15 pounds for pregnant women. As pregnant women grow, so do the babies inside them, increasing the chances of a difficult delivery.
What to Eat and What to Avoid
Since the immune systems of pregnant women are lower than normal, they have a higher risk of contracting food-borne illnesses. Moms-to-be should be extra careful about what they eat during the holidays when homemade foods are abundant.
Foods to enjoy
- Fresh Fruit and Vegetables. Fresh fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins that women and their babies need. But they should be washed well before consuming.
- Whole Grains, Nuts, Beans, and Seeds. Pregnant women need a lot of folic acid, iron, and protein, which these foods provide.
- Water. Encourage your students to drink plenty of water and to always have a glass of water in their hands at holiday events. This will not only help them to stay hydrated but will discourage them from grazing mindlessly.
Foods to avoid
In general, pregnant women need to be reminded to avoid any food that isn’t pasteurized such as eggnogs, soft cheeses, and certain apple ciders. Other foods to steer clear of include:
- Raw or Undercooked Meats. Double-check that the turkey is properly cooked!
- Raw Cookie Dough. As tempting as it may be to grab a spoonful to sample while baking, this is a no-no for pregnant women, as the uncooked eggs inside the dough may contain salmonella.
- Caffeine. Pregnant women should cut back on their intake of caffeinated beverages, including coffee, tea, and soda. Even better, avoid caffeine altogether.
You can refer your patients to the CDC website for additional information.