Nothing plagues the mind of a pregnant woman more than food. Food becomes an obsession, and she is not leaving the house without a purse full of snacks. Even if she is not hungry now, or if she won’t be gone for long, she needs to make sure she is always prepared in case the little one decides it needs to eat.
An expectant mom can pack all of the food she wants, but there is no guarantee that it will be enough. Mom-to-be may eat it all in the first half an hour, or her little baby may decide that is not what they want and then a craving happens. Often times, a pregnant woman craves foods that are not exactly healthy, they usually crave fast food.
This can send many a husband out in the middle of the night in search of that perfect morsel that will satisfy his wife and unborn baby. Not all fast food is created equal and some are healthier than others. While we know that there isn’t really a fast food out there that is completely healthy, there are good choices and bad choices.
When it comes to pregnancy, what a woman eats is going right to her baby, so we need to monitor what we eat. We have compiled a list of the 10 “best” fast food choices for mom-to-be and 10 out there that should be completely avoided.
20 Avoid: Subway
We mentioned earlier that there really isn’t a lot of fast food restaurants out there that can be considered ‘healthy,’ but some are better than others. Subway has always been thought as one of the healthier places to go to get something to eat, as long as you are not pregnant.
Calories and fat-content are not the reasons a pregnant woman should stay away from Subway, they need to be more concerned with the deli meat. It is not advised that pregnant woman eat deli meat because of the risk of Listeria. A pregnant woman’s immune system is weaker, so it is much easier for her to contract food poisoning. Deli meat is ok when it is warmed up to steaming temperature.
19 Avoid: Red Lobster
Red Lobster may not be as popular as it once was, but there are still thousands of loyal fans out there who love to go for their rolls, lobster, and shrimp. Pregnant women should be cautious when eating at a restaurant that is primarily serving fish and seafood. Fish is one of those ‘grey areas’ when it comes to what a pregnant woman can eat.
Fish that is high in mercury should be avoided, and fish that has a lower level cannot be eaten frequently. Shellfish and any type of seafood need to be cooked to a certain temperature, and it is hard to monitor that when you are eating food someone else has cooked. This would put mom-to-be at risk of food poisoning as well.
18 Avoid: Starbucks
There is a Starbucks on every corner, making them very hard to avoid. A pregnant woman is usually a tired woman and she may be tempted to sneak in for a quick pick-me-up. It is best to avoid Starbucks all together in order to watch your caffeine content.
Pregnant women are allowed to have caffeine, but they have to make sure they don’t go overboard on it. Experts are recommending that pregnant woman should limit their caffeine intake to about 200mg a day. This is about 2 cups of coffee. However, we need to keep in mind the other forms of caffeine that we get throughout the day. Chocolate, te, and soda all contain caffeine as well.
17 Avoid: Bamboo Sushi
Sushi is a very trendy food at the moment, and there are a lot of people out there who look forward to binge-eating some sushi on a Friday night. Unless you are pregnant, go nuts on the sushi, but pregnant women need to hold off for 9-months. It is not that this food is unhealthy, but it can be dangerous to the health of the growing baby.
A lot of sushi is cooked, but there is a selection out there that contains raw fish. Raw fish is a big red flag on the ‘do not eat’ list. What we eat when we are pregnant goes directly to the baby, and raw food is bound to cause food poisoning in a weakened immune system. It really is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to what we eat when we are pregnant.
16 Avoid: Panda Express
Chinese food is a great guilty pleasure, and it is one of the most favored foods in the USA and Canada. However, pregnant women should take it easy when it comes to this food that is traditionally found at all-you-can-eat buffets.
While a lot of restaurants are now advertising that their food is MSG-free, we still need to be weary of this. MSG is a food additive that is designed to help enhance the flavour of food and it is often found in Chinese food. While there is no clear evidence that this will cause any harm or damage to your baby, it is another case of better being safe than sorry.
15 Avoid: Smashburger
Unfortunately, some of the best tasting fast food out there is going to be the unhealthiest. It is a harsh reality of the world we live in. Another reason we love fast-food is that it tends to be cheaper than going to the grocery store and buying ingredients to make a healthier meal. Smashburger is a cheaper fast-food restaurant but it is just not worth it.
This burger chain is one of the greasiest out there, and it may taste very good, but it has little in nutritional benefits. Another problem is that their prices are so low that customers tend to buy (and eat) more than they really should. Just avoid this one.
14 Avoid: Dairy Queen
If you are pregnant in the summer than nothing is more satisfying than ice cream. Dairy Queen is the queen of the ice cream, but it also may be the queen of sugar and things too sweet. They are known for their soft serve, sundaes, and blizzards. There has been some concern on how healthy this product is, even though it is marketed as a great source of calcium.
There has even been some concern about the possibility of contracting listeria from it. There is worry that they are not cleaning the machines as properly as they should be. When it comes to this sweet shop, it is best to proceed with caution.
13 Avoid: IN-N-OUT
Being Canadian, I have only heard the rumors about the famous IN-N-OUT burgers and fries. I have heard they are heavenly and must be tried, however, after writing this I am not so sure. They are named IN-N-OUT because of how quick you are in there and out with your food. However, some worry the same happens with your digestive system.
The main reason for this is because the food is incredibly greasy. Anything that has a lot of grease in it is bound to be bad for your digestive system and should be avoided. It is also not going to add a lot in the way of nutrients, something you should be supplying to your baby.
12 Avoid: Arby’s
Arby’s is another well-known and well-loved fast food restaurant, but if you are expecting you may need to take a 9-month break from this establishment. Arby’s is known for their sandwiches and their waffle-cut fries. However, if you take a closer look at the nutritional value of the items here you will notice one thing. The items are all incredibly high in salt content.
Pregnant women tend to have some difficulties when it comes to swelling. When you add extra salt to your diet it can make this problem much worse. If you do indulge in this every now and then, make sure you are drinking a lot of water with it to help flush out some of the salt.
11 Avoid: KFC
KFC, or Kentucky Fried Chicken, is one of the better know fried chicken restaurants. Colonel Saunders has us all hooked on his secret recipe batter for his chicken and it always has us coming back for more. However, the reason we love it so much is that it is anything but good for you. No one, let alone a pregnant woman, should be eating something that is covered in that much grease.
The chicken is greasy, the fries are greasy, and you can see where I am going with this. Even if you don’t eat the skin, the meat is still going to be greasy. It may be fine as a guilty pleasure, but it is a very guilty one and one that shouldn’t be indulged too often at all.
10 Cleared: McDonald's
It may appear that this photograph was put in the wrong article, but trust me, it should be here. This is a picture of a couple who have just given birth to their first child. What makes this special is that they gave birth while in the drive-thru of a McDonalds. Contrary to popular belief, McDonald's is a healthier option when it comes to pregnancy. This means mom can get all of her cravings fulfilled.
Now, of course, a Big Mac combo may not be the best choice, but there are very healthy options at McDonald's. They have a full array of salads that one can choose from and these are all great choices. Even a hamburger and small fries are good enough for mom to eat, we should just try not to make it a daily habit.
9 Cleared: Chipotle
I have a confession to make, I am in Canada, and we do not have a lot of Chipotles hanging around where I am. However, that doesn’t mean that this is not one of the healthier choices for mom when she needs a fix of Mexican food. Chipotle has a lot of fresh options for mom, ingredients that are new, tasty and hold a lot of nutrients.
The food at Chipotle is also low in sodium, so mom won’t have to worry about extra salt making her ankles swell just a little bit more. All of the meat choices will also ensure that she gets enough protein in her diet to help that baby grow.
8 Cleared: Pizza Hut
Who doesn’t love good pizza night? A night when no one has to worry about making dinner and a tired mom-to-be can just call and order in a hot dinner. Pizza has always been a staple ‘fast food’ and it has never been considered particularly healthy. While, it may not be better than a salad made at home, when mom wants some fast food, this one will work.
The great thing about pizza is that it is all customizable. Mom can have her pizza any way she wants and there are ways to make it as healthy as it can be. Choose a thin crust to cut down on the carbs and load that pizza up with fresh vegetables. You may just want to skip the extra cheese for now.
7 Cleared: Taco Bell
Who would have ever thought that Taco Bell would be on the cleared section of this list? Probably not a lot of people. Taco Bell has never gotten good reviews when it comes to the meat they use and has led a lot of people to assume that it is just not good for you. The world needs a little more imagination because Taco Bell can be healthy with the right order.
Choosing a taco with a grilled chicken or steak as the meat will always be a better option than the plain, regular ground beef. Tacos also have a lot of fresh vegetables added to it, which will provide some nutrients to mom and baby.
6 Cleared: Chick-fil-A
Chick-fil-A is another fast food restaurant that I am unfamiliar with, being Canadian, but I have heard good things about it. Chick-fil-A is known for fried chicken, but that is not all they do and there is a way for mom-to-be to eat healthy here. A pregnant woman will want to stick to options with grilled chicken or see if they will do substitutions.
The chicken that Chick-fil-A uses is 100% breast meat with no fillers or additives, which is not common to see in a fast-food place. Their chicken, when grilled, may be one of the healthier choices when looking at fast food options. Even their fried chicken, while not as healthy as grilled, is not as high in fat when compared to other fried chicken establishments.
5 Cleared: Panera Bread
Panera bread is becoming quite popular, and while it may be known as a bakery first, there are a lot of good options available for a quick lunch or light dinner. If mom-to-be is craving a sandwich, this is the place to go. Consider using whole wheat bread as opposed to a white bread. They also give you the option of a piece of fruit on the side instead of chips.
It may be tempting to indulge in the chips, but when you are thinking about your little one, a piece of fruit is always a better route to take. Panera Bread also has the option of choosing half a sandwich and half a cup of soup. Making a very hearty and healthy meal.
4 Cleared: Wendy’s
Wendy’s is another classic fast-food restaurant and has forever been competing with McDonalds and Burger King. They promise that their meat, which is square instead of round, is always fresh and never frozen. This makes Wendy’s a bit healthier than other burger chains. Wendy’s is also known for their salads.
They have incredible salads that can come in a small or larger size, depending on the appetite of the person eating them. Now, Wendy’s is also known for their Frosties. These are delicious, milkshake type drinks and may not be the healthiest choice. However, if you pair a small frosty with a salad, we won’t tell anyone.
3 Cleared: Boston Market
Sometimes, mom-to-be wants a meal that feels and tastes like it is home-made, but she doesn’t actually want to make it herself. We have all been there, and when this feeling kicks in, mom need look no further than Boston Market. Boston Market provides all the comfort of a home-cooked meal without any cooking and cleaning.
The plus side is that they have a wide array of foods as well so there are bound to be endless options of healthy choices for mom and baby. They also have a lot of turkey and chicken options which is the healthiest form of protein mom will be able to find.
2 Cleared: Applebee’s
At the end of the day, the best choices for a mom-to-be when it comes to fast-food, is to choose big chain restaurants. The reason why is because these places are going to have the most variety and there is guaranteed to be some healthy options. Especially in today’s world where healthy and clean eating is very trendy.
Applebee’s is another great choice for a pregnant woman who does not want to cook. They have a lot of options out there, and even some of their steak dishes are relatively healthy. Red meat may not be the healthiest, but we all need it in moderation, even a growing baby.
1 Cleared: Olive Garden
The Olive Garden is a staple in restaurant cuisine, and there are bound to be a lot of pregnant women out there who are very glad we placed this in the cleared section of this article. There is a disclaimer with this restaurant though, their portions are large. Pregnant women should be sure to ask for a doggy-bag to take some leftovers home with them.
They have a vegetable pasta option which is great, as it provides servings of cards and vegetables to a growing baby. They also have fish options as well. A good hack is to ask for chicken meatballs with your pasta dish which will always cut the calories.
References: babycenter.com, parents.com, thetravel.com