Pregnancy Meal Planning
Your nutritional needs may have increased because you are pregnant, but that does not mean your appetite or even your stomach size has increased. If you are having difficulty eating, or can not stand the sight of food, here are some ideas to help you make the most of your eating every day.
Keep your refrigerator and pantry well stocked
You don't need to keep a months worth of groceries in the house, but making sure you have a few key items on hand all times can really improve your eating. Here is a list is foods to keep on hand.
Learn how to read labels
You don't know what you are eating if you haven't learned how to read the nutritional information that comes on pre-packaged foods. Scanning the labels in the store can help you make the best choices for products to take home. Look for foods that are nutritionally packed to make sure you get the most value out of the things you can eat.
Shop at least once a week
Shopping once a week instead of less often will make it easier keep on hand fresh fruits and vegetables that spoil quickly. As you shop, keep in mind how many servings of each piece of produce you will need for one week. Pay attention each week to which foods are "still here" and which foods you ran out of so that you can gauge how much of a food you actually eat in a week.
Choose your least busy day so that you have time to prepare your fruits and vegetables when you return home. Take the time to wash your fresh fruit and put it in a bowl for easy snacking. Also cut up your vegetables for snacks or salad and keep in the refrigerator so they will be ready when you are hungry. You are more likely to eat a food that is already prepared and ready to be eaten.
Use your freezer
It takes very little extra time to double a recipe, but it will give you an extra meal. Even if you don't want to make a full second batch, enlarge the meal enough to have a good amount of leftovers you can enjoy later in the week as a dinner or lunch. Invest in good quality containers that will allow you to freeze a meal for use later in the week or month when you don't have the time or desire to cook. Keeping a batch of soup in the fridge or freezer can be a great way to get a variety of vegetables without having to wait for a snack.
If you buy food with the intention of using it only to throw it out when it goes bad, stock up on a few frozen vegetables and fruits. You can add the vegetables to other dishes and eat the fruit plain or make it into smoothies. As long as you keep it in a sealed bag, it should be good for weeks and you will have a variety of fruit and vegetables available for every meal and snack. Extra vegetables are easy to add to soups, pasta or can be used as a side dish.
Use your Grill
Grilling is a very healthy way to prepare meats, it cooks relatively quickly and the smells stay outdoors. A gas grill makes the process very fast, working as easily as your stove and can be purchased through most home stores for about $100. In addition to meats, you can also grill vegetables so in the summer you don't have to heat the house to eat.
Use your Crock Pot
A crock pot makes dinner easy if you have the energy in the morning to toss in a few ingredients. Find a few recipes you know you like and keep them handy for days you know you will be too busy to cook. You are less likely to resort to junk food if dinner is all ready for you. The large portions from many crock pot recipes will give you extras to freeze.
Reorganize your Food Storage
Organize your refrigerator so ingredients for salads and sandwiches are easily accessible and ready to be used. You are much more likely to eat the fruit, vegetables and sandwich fillers if they are ready to eat. Convenience can be a plus when you are tired or hungry.
A bowl with a tight fitting lid can keep made-up salads fresh for a few days so you can grab as much as you are hungry for quickly. If you enjoy eating tossed salads, vary the ingredients you buy to put in it. Select different greens each week and rotate your olives, onions, tomatoes, cucumber, radishes, carrots, sprouts and salad toppers such as nuts, seeds and cheeses.
Change your snacking habits
If you find that you snack on chips and cookies, start experimenting with some more nutritious and satisfying snacks. Cheese and crackers is very easy to keep on hand and can satisfy a craving. Nuts are easily transported and so are many fresh fruits. Keep vegetables and bean dips in your refrigerator.
Instead of cookies and muffins, think yogurt and dried fruit. Instead of ice cream, try a fruit and yogurt smoothie or pureed frozen fruit. You will find that they give you the "sweet" you want, but also provide you with protein and nutrients to keep you and your baby healthy. Here are some ideas for ways to use your snacks to complete your nutritional needs for the day.
Eat when you are hungry
Some women don't eat because they are concerned about gaining weight during pregnancy. You will gain weight during pregnancy, and it is healthy to do so. It is not healthy to starve yourself and your growing baby of the food you both need desperately. Other women put off eating because they are busy or to ensure they eat meals with family. Be prepared with small snacks that will relieve your hunger without ruining your appetite for later.
Some women use eating as a way to manage stress, overcome loneliness or boredom, to hide hurt and anger or fulfill other emotional needs. Not only will overeating increase your risk of health problems, it will also increase the discomfort you feel from indigestion and heartburn. Before you grab a snack, ask yourself "Am I really hungry?" If the answer is no, then find some other way to fill the emotional need.
Enlist the help of friends and familyIf you are really having difficulty preparing food, ask your family and friends to each prepare a dish for you to freeze. Most won't mind doing it, and you should have enough food to last you a couple weeks. By that time, your energy level and ability to stomach raw ingredients may have improved.