FOOD! If you’re pregnant, you either want it all, or you want it all far, far away from you. So this week, I want to share a few tips on how to eat healthy while you’re pregnant (or even if you’re not. This works for anyone, really!) And don’t worry if you’re in an area that might only have limited options. We’re going to talk about that, too. So what should you be eating?

Eat what you can

Yep. Here we are with the obvious, again. But really. If you’re struggling to keep anything down, eat whatever you can. Take a good prenatal and talk to your doctor about helps for morning sickness (AKA all-the-time sickness). Once your system has calmed down and isn’t acting like a picky toddler anymore, you can add in some other options.

Eat your vegetables

Yup. Green stuff. Or orange. Or purple. Or any other color vegetable. They’re all healthy, but there are some good guidelines to follow. First, shoot for fresh veggies if you can. They will have the most and best nutrients for your system, and can be prepared in a wider variety of ways. Try brussels sprouts or asparagus roasted, with a little olive oil and salt. Or sweet potatoes cut into sticks and baked with olive oil and paprika. Or just a good, old-fashioned salad (with a vinaigrette dressing, not a truckload of cheese, ranch and bacon bits…)

If you can’t get fresh veggies and fruit, shoot for frozen, before you go canned. Canned veggies are usually cooked way past their prime, until they’re mushy, flavorless, and have few nutrients left. They’re also often full of sodium and chemicals that you and your baby really don’t need. Canned fruit is just as bad–mushy, flavorless, and almost worthless, nutrition-wise. And where vegetables are packed with sodium, fruit gets packed with sugar. You honestly might as well just eat a candy bar. 

Get your protein

When we think about protein, most of us go right to the meat department. And that’s fine. Chicken breast, an occasional piece of fish (salmon is good!), or lean beef (more red, less white) is great. Avoid fatty meat and meats that have been processed, like lunchmeat, hot dogs, and fast food burgers. And don’t forget about other great sources of protein! 

Eggs are really good for you and you can have them fried, scrambled, boiled or even mixed into egg salad. Nuts, beans, and some grains are great sources of protein, too. Think peanut butter, quinoa (kinda like rice, but healthier for you), or bean soup. If you use canned beans, rinse them in a colander until the water stops bubbling. 

Be careful about carbs

Carbs, like potatoes, grains, breads, pasta and cereal, are good for you and you need them, but there are some places to be cautious. Too many carbs will raise your blood sugar and can cause you to feel sluggish, or to need to eat again sooner than with other foods. To avoid that, watch out for foods that are high in carbs or sugar.

One place to be especially careful is with breakfast foods. These can have a LOT of extra sugar. For example, a Yoplait yogurt has 19 grams of sugar (a can of Coke has 42 grams), one cup of Raisin Bran has 18 grams (hint: a normal bowl is probably more than that), and one packet of strawberry oatmeal has 8 grams (again, most of us eat two). Always look at the amount of sugar on the nutrition label, as well as the serving size, since most of us eat more than the recommended serving.

Some healthier breakfast options are plain yogurt with fresh fruit or a teaspoon of jam or honey, with some walnuts. Cheerios are a better cereal choice. And if you love oatmeal, try plain oatmeal and sweeten it yourself with a bit of honey and fruit, or a few raisins and some nuts. 

Drink all the water

During pregnancy, you need about 64-96 ounces of water a day (64 ounces is half a gallon). It doesn’t all have to be plain water–you can drink decaf tea/coffee, sparkling water or flavored water–but try to steer clear of drinks with lots of sugar like juice, soda, and sweet tea. You can try adding fruit to your water if you’d like a little flavor!

Grocery shop like a pro

All this sounds like a great idea, until you’re wandering the aisles at the grocery store and that pack of Oreos jumps into your cart. When you’re pregnant, it can be hard to fight those cravings, but there are some strategies that can help:

First, always make a list before you go grocery shopping. It will help you remember what you need and avoid impulse buys. Next, always eat a snack before grocery shopping because when you shop hungry, everything sounds good! And last: shop around the edges of the store. The main food groups (produce, meat, bakery, dairy) are generally located around the outer aisles of the grocery store, while all the unhealthy stuff (chips, candy, cookies, etc) are in the middle aisles. If you have your list with you, and you only go down the middle aisles for the specific things you’re shopping for, you probably won’t even see those Oreos, and they won’t have the chance to hitch a ride home with you!

So what other tips do you have for eating healthy? Share your thoughts, questions and healthy recipes in the comments!