You want to do the right thing for you and your baby, and sometimes making simple substitutions in your diet can mean much healthier meals. Here are popular beverages and foods, along with their healthier replacements.
Cranberry Juice Cocktail
SUBSTITUTE SELTZER WITH A SPLASH OF CRANBERRY JUICE COCKTAIL
Expectant moms tend to be thirsty, and it’s important to stay hydrated. Many women reach for cranberry juice cocktail because it is much sweeter than natural cranberry juice — which is very tart — and because it is known to help prevent urinary tract infections. However, beware of the calories and sugar in cranberry juice cocktail. At 137 calories in only eight ounces, it has more than most sodas! Use only a splash with a no-calorie seltzer.
SUBSTITUTE AN ORANGE
Fruit juice seems like such a good idea. However, it’s high in calories, and thirsty moms-to-be can consume several hundred calories without even realizing it. Studies show that the liquid calories in fruit juice do not dull the appetite. A healthier replacement is the whole fruit. An orange has fiber, which slows the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream. The steadier, lower release is more satisfying than if you drank juice. You can also substitute an apple for apple juice, a grapefruit for grapefruit juice and grapes for grape juice.
SUBSTITUTE SWEET POTATOES
Most of us are aware that potatoes are not a vegetable, but that doesn’t mean you cannot include potatoes as part of a healthy diet. A great, easy substitute is switching to sweet potatoes. When it comes to digestion, slower is better. Foods that break down more slowly leave a steadier level of glucose in your bloodstream, rather than a quick spike, which is not good for you or your baby. White potatoes quickly break down into glucose, but sweet potatoes have more fiber and break down more slowly. For this reason, blood glucose will rise more gradually with sweet potatoes than with white. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of vitamin A and beta-carotene.
SUBSTITUTE WHOLE-WHEAT BAGEL
Blueberry muffins — especially if you buy a low-fat version — seem to be a great idea for your health. However, from a nutrition standpoint, a blueberry muffin really is more like dessert. Since a blueberry muffin is made with white flour, butter and sugar, you are better off considering it — or any other type of muffin — a once-in-awhile treat, even the low-fat version. A whole-wheat bagel is a much better choice for daily consumption. Whole wheat is digested more slowly, and releases a steadier level of glucose in your bloodstream compared to white flour. Try making most of the carbohydrates in your diet unprocessed, as in whole-wheat flour and whole-grain cereals.
SUBSTITUTE BROWN RICE
This one is easy. When ordering that burrito, choose a place that offers brown rice, and ask for brown instead of white rice. Just like sweet potatoes and whole-wheat flour, brown rice is broken down in your system more slowly, and is a healthier choice for you and your baby.
SUBSTITUTE FRUIT SMOOTHIE
Most expectant moms will crave the cold, sweet, wetness of ice cream. Ice cream is fine for a once-in-a-while treat. One easy substitution that you can have every day is a smoothie. You can make your own if you invest in a good-quality blender. Try a strawberry- banana smoothie: Blend ½ banana, a few frozen strawberries, a dollop of nonfat vanilla yogurt and a splash of orange juice — and in no time you’ll have a delicious, inexpensive smoothie.
You can substitute other frozen fruit, such as blueberries, raspberries and mangoes, making many varieties. The smoothie provides vitamins and nutrients, and is much lower in fat and calories, yet still satisfies your cravings. It makes a great quick breakfast or afternoon snack.
Hope Ricciotti, MD, is an Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School and practices obstetrics/gynecology at the Dimock Community Health Center and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA. She is the Interim Chair in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where she is also the Residency Program Director.