If you're one of those people who look forward to hitting the local deli or coffee shop during your work lunch break, packing meals during pregnancy may be a bit difficult. The idea that you're eating for two is a myth, but you do have to increase calorie intake by 200 to 300 calories per day, especially during the latter stages of pregnancy. These extra calories are best eaten during lunch and mid-afternoon snack when you are most active, but a donut from the break room is not a nutritional option. Packing meals for work during pregnancy is not as hard as you think as long as you plan ahead.
- Cook more and re-purpose.
Most people take a bit of time planning evening and weekend meals. Throughout the week, cook a little extra and re-purpose for lunch. For instance, cook an extra serving of whole wheat pasta and mix with Italian dressing and fresh vegetables for lunch. Add a touch of chicken breast and you have a complete, nutritious meal.
- Think complex carbohydrates, not simple carbohydrates.
White pasta, white rice, white bread, and white flour are all simple carbohydrates; not to mention white sugar. Replace these foods with complex carbohydrates to increase fiber and nutrient intake. Whole wheat options are one choice, but there are a wide array of alternative choices on the market. Barilla, for instance, offers Barilla Plus pasta that contains 10 to 17 grams of protein per serving, depending on the serving size, for the same amount of calories as one serving of white pasta. Other options include whole wheat bread and rolls, wild rice and sweet potatoes.
- Lean protein options other than meat.
Meat is not the only source of lean protein. Beans and vegetables contain protein. There are even some bread companies that offer protein-enriched bread. Read product labels and find foods online that are rich in protein.
- Food safety is important.
When packing lunch for work during pregnancy, it is important to keep food cold. If reheating food, heat thoroughly before eating. Food poisoning is often associated with improperly stored or reheated foods.
When choosing healthy meals for work during pregnancy, avoid fast foods and frozen meals. Even if the package claims the meal is healthy, pre-packaged meals tend to be high in saturated fats and sodium. Fresh, home-cooked meals are ideal for pregnancy lunches at work.