Summer is finally here! Ensure you’re fueling your body with the healthy nutrients that it needs. Good nutrition is important for everyone, and it is especially important for expectant and new moms. You may be pregnant or recovering from pregnancy and are working hard to keep yourself and your family healthy and happy. If you live in an area where you don’t have access to fresh and nutritious foods, we’ve got a number of healthy summer treats and tips to help you find ways to keep yourself healthy.
When You Live in a Food Desert
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines “food deserts” as neighborhoods that lack access to reasonably priced fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, and other foods essential to a healthy diet. Start by searching for local organizations that have specific projects to combat food deserts and distribute healthy food to those communities. Healthy, affordable food is available in more places than you think, even if it is just at the dollar or convenience store in your neighborhood. With planning you can create a tasty meal that is inexpensive including staples like eggs, whole grain bread and pasta, brown rice, canned vegetables, fruit, and yogurt. Create a grocery list of healthy options and stick to it. Don’t shop when you’re hungry if you can avoid it. Plan meals in advance. You can also cook in bulk to save time during the busy week. Planning can also help you to avoid choosing an unhealthy quick convenient option. Read labels, watch your portions, and avoid processed foods with more than five easily identifiable ingredients.
Indulge in Refreshing Summer Treats
Getting in your fruits and veggies doesn’t have to be boring. Get creative and make it a fun activity to create your healthy summer treats! Try a healthy and nutritious smoothie that’s easy to make at home. Smoothies are a terrific way to get the nutrition your body needs. Ideally, you will make them at home since many store bought smoothies contain a lot of sugar with fewer nutrients. Get adventurous with green smoothies or popsicles that include spinach, avocado, and tropical fruits. Keep frozen fruit in your freezer to throw into a smoothie, or simply let frozen fruit semi-thaw for a cold, refreshing treat to eat. Drink plenty of water to beat the summer heat and stay hydrated.
The Office on Women’s Health recommends that pregnant women drink about 10 cups (2.4 liters) of fluids daily. Women who are nursing a baby need to consume about 13 cups (3.1 liters) of fluids a day. It seems like a lot, but it’s not impossible. You can do it! Pace yourself and try to find a water bottle to keep yourself on track. Adding fruit to your water can help to boost its flavor while adding nutrition; plus, fruit looks so pretty and tastes so good floating in a glass of water.
Eat Healthily; Stay Consistent
Each time you reach for a snack or sit down for a meal, choose a healthy option. Don’t fall for fad diets, like the short-term calorie “summer slim down” diets. Rather, focus on healthy choices with each meal or snack, and avoid junk food. This is a year-round habit that leads to good health overall. You need to get plenty of calories, and most of those calories should come from whole foods. If you don’t know how many calories you should be consuming each day, ask your healthcare or pregnancy care provider. Stock up on healthy foods. If your cabinets, refrigerator, and freezer hold healthy foods, you’re much more likely to maintain healthy eating for life.
Focus on nutrient rich foods:
- Whole grains
- Lean meats and plant-based proteins
- Fresh fruits and vegetables (the darker the color, the more nutrients it has)
- Calcium-rich foods including dark green veggies, small bone-in fish, tofu, or low-fat dairy
- Nuts and beans and other legumes
Bon Appetit, and enjoy those healthy summer treats!
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Danielle Beasley, PhD, RN, RNC-OB, CNE is an Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida, College of Nursing. She specializes in Maternal-Child Nursing, with an emphasis on labor and delivery. Her research interests include maternal depression, preeclampsia, and postpartum hemorrhage.