Pregnancy is a remarkable journey, filled with unique experiences and special moments. Dining out at restaurants during this time should be no exception. It’s an opportunity to savor delicious dishes and celebrate your changing body. However, it’s crucial to prioritize your health and the safety of your growing baby. This guide will provide you with an extensive insight into how to safely and healthily enjoy restaurant dining while pregnant, allowing you to embrace the culinary world with confidence and delight.
The Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
Before diving into tips for eating healthily at restaurants, let’s start with a reminder of the foods and beverages to steer clear of during pregnancy:
- Alcoholic Drinks: Absolutely no amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy, so opt for non-alcoholic alternatives like mocktails or sparkling water.
- Unpasteurized Dairy: Unpasteurized milk and cheese may contain harmful bacteria, so choose pasteurized options.
- Raw or Seared Seafood: To avoid potential risks of foodborne illnesses, stick to fully cooked seafood.
- Rare or Undercooked Meat: Undercooked meat can harbor bacteria, so order your meat well-done to reduce any risks.
- Hot Dogs and Deli Meat: These can be prone to listeria contamination, so heat them thoroughly before consuming.
- Raw or Undercooked Eggs: Eliminate the risk of salmonella by choosing well-cooked eggs and dishes that don’t contain raw eggs.
- High-Mercury Fish: High levels of mercury can be harmful to your baby’s developing nervous system. Avoid fish like shark, swordfish, and king mackerel, and opt for low-mercury alternatives like salmon, trout, or tilapia.
- Raw Sprouts: Raw sprouts, such as alfalfa, can carry bacteria and should be avoided during pregnancy.
Now, let’s delve into the tips for enjoying a safe and healthy dining experience while expecting.
How to Eat Healthy at Restaurants During Pregnancy
1. Choose the Right Restaurant
Selecting the right restaurant is the first step to ensuring a healthy dining experience during pregnancy. Look for establishments that offer a variety of cooked and safe options. Mediterranean restaurants with grilled veggies and fish can be an excellent choice. On the other hand, if you’re experiencing heartburn or tummy troubles, it’s advisable to avoid restaurants that specialize in spicy or fried foods.
2. Don’t Hesitate to Make Special Requests
Restaurant staff and chefs are usually accommodating when it comes to substitutions and special requests. Don’t hesitate to ask for adjustments to your dish to ensure it’s safe and suitable for your pregnancy. Whether you want your salad without blue cheese or need your meat thoroughly cooked, speaking up is encouraged. You’re pregnant, and it’s essential to prioritize your well-being and your baby’s health.
3. Opt for Greens and Beans
Start your meal with a healthy first course, such as a salad or grilled vegetables. Even fast-food restaurants nowadays offer nutritious side dishes like steamed veggies, baked potatoes, or yams. Soups, especially those with lentils, beans, or vegetable bases, provide an excellent opportunity to incorporate more veggies into your meal. Don’t hesitate to order a bowl of vegetable or tomato-based broth to get in those essential nutrients.
4. Seek Nutrient-Packed Entrees
Scan the menu for protein-packed main courses and nutritious whole grains that will provide you with sustained energy throughout the day. Options like grilled or braised fish, lean meats, tofu, lentils, and beans are excellent choices. Don’t forget to explore healthy dips and condiments like fresh salsa, guacamole, tzatziki, hummus, or baba ganoush to enhance the flavor of your dish while adding nutritional value.
5. Mind Your Portions
Restaurants often serve generous portions, which may be more than you can comfortably consume. Pregnant women are particularly prone to indigestion and heartburn, so it’s essential to listen to your body. Pay attention to your satiety cues, and if you feel full, request a container from your server to save any leftovers for future meals. This way, you can enjoy your delicious meal without overindulging.