Yummy festive treats are one of the many things that everyone looks forward to during Christmas. With so much food temptations, it can be a trying time for pregnant mums who want to maintain a healthy diet, and especially so if they have gestational diabetes.
But, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the deliciousness that the holiday has to offer, says Rddhi Naidu, senior dietitian and programme manager at Novi Health, a local health-tech company. A slight break from norm is okay but try to avoid consistently high glucose readings.
By making some simple adjustments to what and how you eat, monitoring blood glucose levels regularly and engaging in some light after-dinner exercise, you can usually enjoy this season without compromising on your health. Here, Rddhi shares five healthier Christmas foods that pregnant mums can enjoy – and five to avoid.
5 healthier Christmas foods to enjoy
Warm non-cream based soups such as minestrone soup, tomato soup are low-calorie starters which help to fill you up before your main meals. You can use low fat yoghurt to make it creamier when preparing at home.
Roast turkey breast is a good choice of lean protein when you choose the breast meat portion and have it without skin. Go easy on the cranberry sauce though! When preparing at home, why not try a walnut and almond meal stuffing instead of breadcrumbs and high fat meat.
Herbed roasted vegetables Choose more of non-starchy vegetables like carrots, zucchini, parsnips, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, red/green/yellow bell peppers, cauliflower. When you fill half your plate with these, you can add bulk to your meal and the added fibre keeps you fuller for longer without raising your glucose levels. When preparing at home, go easy on adding butter. Try using at olive oil spray to reduce the overall added calories.
Creamy dill dip is a healthier alternative instead of mayonnaise. When preparing at home, try using low-fat yoghurt, mashed white beans and a clove of garlic, to make a delicious white dip with a clean addition of herbs of your choice and some zesty lemon juice. Feel free to salt and pepper to taste.
Chicken cacciatore is a zesty veggie packed chicken dish with olives and peppers that it is not short on flavour. When preparing this at home, use chicken fillets or skinless chicken breast to cut down on the overall fat and calories.
5 Christmas foods to avoid
Now, and here are five festive foods that pregnant mums should avoid or limit in general, and also if they have gestational diabetes.
Salads with smoked salmon, raw seafood, pate or salami unsafe for pregnant mums as raw seafood or undercooked meat may contain listeria, a bacteria which causes food poisoning and potentially runs the risk of harming mum & the baby.
Eggnog Pregnant woman should avoid this dish as it contains raw unpasteurised eggs and mostly made with alcohol. Raw or undercooked eggs pose the same threat of food poisoning while alcohol may cause harm to the baby’s growth (foetal alcohol syndrome).
Cheese platers Avoid mould ripen cheese e.g. brie, camembert or any blue veined cheese, soft cheese e.g. goats’ cheese. These too run the risk of listeria contamination. It is ok to have hard cheeses like cheddar, parmesan. Soft cheese like mozzarella, cottage cheese or ricotta are ok if they are pasteurised. However, cheese is generally high in calories and saturated fat. Choose the low-fat varieties and have it in moderation.
Carb heavy side dishes, such as mashed potatoes, pumpkin mash, thick bread rolls and corn puddings, are loaded with carbs and when you don’t practice portion control, your glucose levels may spike up. Choose wraps or tortilla instead of thick rolls. Limit intake of these starchy veggie sides, you may not need to completely avoid these sides.
Mince pie is a festive favourite that is high in simple sugar and refined carb sugar from fruit to the sugar to white flour pastry. Limit to a bite-size portion instead of a whole slice.
(Also read: How to manage hunger pangs during pregnancy)
Should you really skip all the decadent Christmas desserts?
Most desserts are high in simple sugars and may cause your glucose levels to spike. But, it doesn’t mean that you should avoid them totally. Limit your intake to having it only on the festive day rather than indulging for the rest of the holiday period.
Go easy on puddings and fruit cakes if you cannot resist them – make sure you stick to a bite-size piece or keep your serving sizes sensible. You can also try to walk away from your cravings, literally. Take a 10 to 15-minute walk to enjoy some fresh air. This can help release endorphins that can help you overcome your cravings.
Here’s a look at the nutritional values of some common favourites and healthier substitutes:
- 1 small slice of a Christmas fruit pudding (50g) has 30g carb and 188 kcal.
- 1 small fruit mince pie (40g) has 27g carb and 192kcal.
- 1 slice of chocolate log cake (140g) has 44g carbs and 310kcal.
All of the above are high in saturated fat as well.
Healthier substitutes that you can enjoy with some low-fat frozen yoghurt:
- A cupful of fresh apricots (155g) has only 17g carb and only 75kcal.
- A cupful of cherries without seeds (154g) has 25g carb and 97kcal.
- A cupful of strawberries with no stems (174g) has only 13g carb and 60 kcal.
- Four pieces of biscotti has around 25g carbs and 134kcal.
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