Pregnancy is not always a time when we can sit back, relax and spend hours clicking through mum-to-be websites (hello!). Many of us have two jobs to do, homes to run and older children to look after.
In the middle of all of that, we also have to remember to eat for two or at least one-and-a-bump. How can we manage our busy lives and still eat well? Here is some expert advice on how to get maximum nutrition with minimum fuss for busy mums on the go:
1. Remember to eat
This may sound obvious, but it is surprising how many people skip breakfast, use lunch to run errands and then collapse on the couch with a bowl of cereal at the end of a long day. Not eating means no energy and even less chance that you will get around to a healthy meal the next time you eat. Always have breakfast lunch and dinner – even if you just give it five minutes and only have time for a snack.
2. Plan ahead
If you are busy it is easy to miss meals but take 30 minutes to plan the week’s menu and it can make all the difference. Plan dinners for the week and then look at what you want for breakfast and lunch. Then shop!
If you don’t have good food in the house, you will end up eating something less than ideal. The first time you do this, it might take a little thought but you will quickly find you can fly through it and having a plan for the week will help you stay on top of your nutrition.
3. Cook ahead
Make use of your freezer and save money by cooking double the amount of meals like Bolognese, lasagna, soups and casseroles that you can freeze and pull out on evenings you are too tired to cook. Soup is easy to make and freeze and is great for a work lunch along with some bread and cheese.
Getting dehydrated will make you feel very tired and it will be harder to think straight and plan anything. It is not unusual for pregnant women to get dehydrated – morning sickness can be a problem but many just forget to drink when they are running around looking after other children, work and family. You need at least two litres of water every day. You can add mint leaves, cucumber, lemon slices or a drop of low-sugar cordial.
5. Ask for help
We do have this idea of being a ‘superwoman’ and handling everything ourselves, but the reality is that we can only handle so much before something gives. If there are people around you can ask for help, then do. If your mum can cook a meal, then ask her. If a neighbour offers help with shopping then say yes. These are favours you can pay back later and have probably paid forward already.
6. Super snacks
Even if you miss a meal or don’t have time to cook, you can still pick up some valuable nutrition with some healthy snacks.
- Yoghurt and yoghurt drinks are great snacks. They are good sources of protein for a growing baby and also give you lots of calcium for those little bones.
- Cheese is another great high protein snack and small packs of cheese are great in a handbag or lunchbox.
- A handful of dried fruit counts as one of your five-a-day and they are packed with vitamins and minerals. Raisins have iron and dried apricots are rich in beta-carotene.
- Fruit is a quick and easy stand-by and is a great way to pick up vitamin A and fibre.
- Nuts are another good protein-rich snack and they only need to be avoided if you have a strong history of peanut allergy in your family – or you are allergic yourself.
- Cereal bars are not as ‘full-of-sugar’ as you might think and they are a great high-fibre snack that often comes with the benefits of wholegrains and nutritious seeds. Check labels and look for bars that have at least 3g of fibre per 100g.
Add nutrition to meals
In an ideal world, we will all grow our own organic vegetables, harvest them lovingly and cook everything from scratch… However, if you are like most people and trying to pull a healthy meal together in fifteen minutes with what you found in the freezer, then there are a few things you can do to boost the nutrition:
1. Use frozen veg.
Frozen veg are just as good as fresh and need a whole lot less preparation. Even if you are having fish-and-chips for dinner, boil up some frozen peas to add some vitamins.
2. Add seeds.
Seeds are a quick and easy way to add minerals like magnesium and copper. All seeds are useful so try anything from sunflower seeds to linseeds to pumpkin seeds. Add them to a yoghurt for a snack or dessert and use them on breakfast cereals and salads.
3. Stock up on tins.
Sweet corn, tuna, salmon and beans to make a quick sandwich or meal anytime. Add a dollop of mayonnaise to tuna and sweetcorn for a sandwich that ticks all the nutrition boxes or try baked beans on toast.
A good source of bone-strengthening calcium (an eight-ounce carton contains about 35% of your daily requirement), low-fat or non-fat yogurt also supplies protein and potassium. Choose plain yoghurt, since the flavoured kinds are often high in sugar, and make sure the label says the brand contains “live and active cultures,” since those bacteria have been shown to benefit your gastrointestinal tract and may help prevent yeast infections.
5. Boil an egg.
Eggs are a great way to add protein as well as some iron. Hardboiled eggs travel well so they are great to throw into a lunch box for work or just to have in the fridge for a quick lunch. A boiled egg and wholegrain toast with a sliced tomato is a super-quick meal for any mum-on-the-go.
More like this:
The best foods for new mums
Eating for two
Supplements in pregnancy