As one of the most traveled holidays, it’s likely you’re heading to someone’s house this Thanksgiving, or, perhaps because of your “condition,” your family is coming to you. If Thanksgiving is a family tradition for you and you’re pregnant this year, here are 10 tips to help you stay more comfortable and healthy around this big family meal.
1. Turn up the temp on the turkey.
If your pregnancy craving is turkey for Thanksgiving, go for it-just be sure the bird is thoroughly cooked to avoid salmonella and e.coli. Cook the stuffing outside the bird to be on the safe side. The ideal turkey temp? At least 165-degrees when you take it out of the oven.
2. Rethink the hors d’oeuvres.
Cheese and pâté are common hors d’oeuvres for Thanksgiving and other holiday get-togethers. If you’re pregnant, avoid soft cheeses including brie, camembert, chevre, blue cheese and gorgonzola-and skip the pâté. Chances are, the offered cheeses have been pasteurized and they’re fine, but the concern is that they could have listeria, which can be dangerous for pregnant women.
3. Drink carefully.
As if your list of holiday cocktails, cordials and other festive drinks weren’t short enough already during pregnancy! While you may skip imbibing alcohol during pregnancy and reach for egg nog instead, watch out. Pregnant women are advised not to drink raw, unpasteurized apple cider or egg nog to avoid salmonella exposure. Again, if it’s pasteurized (and store-bought ciders and egg nogs usually are), it’s okay.
4. Make your plate colorful.
Eat all the vegetables you want on the Thanksgiving table this year. Yams, green beans, cranberry, broccoli, spinach, brussel sprouts, pumpkin, apples, turnips, rutabegas-fruits and vegetables deliver so many good nutrients for your pregnant body and your growing baby. If you’re going to run the risk of eating too much at Thanksgiving, this is where you should do it!
5. Go ahead and have a piece of pie.
Pumpkin is especially good for pregnant women, so go ahead and eat a piece of pumpkin pie without any guilt whatsoever. Even better–make a pumpkin soup for your Thanksgiving dinner. Pumpkin helps regulate blood sugar (well, when it’s not in a sweet pie!) and may help reduce swelling and cramps in your legs during pregnancy. Plus, it’s rich in calcium and zinc, which are good for your baby.
6. Stay hydrated.
Increasing your water intake is important for pregnant women and during the holidays there’s another benefit. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day, but especially before your Thanksgiving meal, can help you feel more full-so you’re less likely to overindulge.
7. Be careful how many you eat for at Thanksgiving.
Speaking of overindulging, you do need to watch your portions at the holiday table. In addition to having the same risk of adding 5-10+ holiday pounds as non-pregnant eaters, eating large meals while pregnant makes you prone to heartburn and other digestive discomfort. Digestion slows during pregnancy. Help your body through Thanksgiving and other holiday meals by eating smaller portions. So you don’t miss out on those great vegetables and Grandma’s holiday corn pudding, consider dividing the Thanksgiving offerings into two plates for yourself and saving one to nosh on a few hours later.
8. Go nuts.
In some families, bowls of mixed nuts are always on hand before the Thanksgiving dinner. If this isn’t part of your family tradition yet, consider making it one, or least introducing nuts to your pregnant Thanksgiving this year. Nibbling on a handful of nuts gives your baby healthy, nutritious fatty acids that aid in brain development.
9. Be prepared for heartburn.
50% of pregnant women experience heartburn. As mentioned above, eating too much can cause heartburn flare-up, but so can eating many of the heavier, fattier foods that seem to pop up on Thanksgiving tables (in this author’s family: creamed onions!). Stave it off by having some pregnancy heartburn tea at the ready.
10. Say no to extra salt.
Sodium intake affects water retention and blood pressure-two things that are already going to be affected by being pregnant. Minimize puffy legs, ankles, fingers: don’t add any extra salt to your Thanksgiving meal.
Have a wonderful pregnant Thanksgiving!