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How can I find time to eat more nutritiously when I’m so busy?
Q: I’m married, work full time, and like most women, am always on the go. My dilemma is that I often have to resort to take-out and other fast foods when I am short on time, but now I’m 3 months pregnant and wonder how to find time to eat more nutritiously. Any tips for eating healthy on the run? I am on prenatal vitamins; will they help me make up for any nutritional loss due to my poor eating habits?
Carole Orchard Hill
A: Dear Carole,

I’m delighted to see that you are aware of the importance of nutrition during your pregnancy. While vitamins are helpful supplements, they cannot replace the benefits of a healthy diet. I recommend eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and cereals, and ample protein and dairy during pregnancy (see my article on this web site titled, “Nutrition During Pregnancy”). With a little advance planning, you can create nutritious and portable meals for yourself that are perfect when you are short on time.

On days when you can pack your own “fast foods,” consider bringing along a combination of the following: cheese, vegetable sticks (carrots, celery, zucchini, cucumbers, jicama), hummus, hard-boiled eggs, peanut or almond butter, cooked chicken or turkey, a container of yogurt or cottage cheese, fresh fruits, and whole grain crackers.

If take-out or fast food restaurants are your only options, try to minimize oils, caloric dressings and excessive sweets when you order. Choose salads with grilled chicken or salmon, broiled and baked foods (rather than fried, barbequed or breaded). Include a protein source (poultry, fish, beans, cheese, yogurt, tofu) and vegetables whenever you can. Pick whole grain breads, brown rice or whole grain cereals as your source of carbohydrates. Choose fresh fruit or yogurt for dessert. Try finding foods as close to their natural forms as possible; avoid heavily processed foods and foods containing preservatives and chemical additives. Also be wary of hidden calories in mayonnaise, salad dressings, teriyaki, barbeque and other sauces.

Your ability to pick out the healthiest options when you’re on the go will serve you well when you are a mother and become a role model for your young child. With a little strategic planning, you’ll be able to eat well during pregnancy, even when you are short on time.
Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist