Improving your diet to include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains has such enormous benefits to both mother and child.
The best part about improving your diet during pregnancy can be that fresh fruits and vegetables can take on an almost extra dimension in flavour and smell as your senses are so much more alive when you are pregnant.
Many a pregnant woman has been able to smell the best apples from afar and the ripest sweetest strawberries, it is almost like we gain an extra sense!
If you have ever had trouble getting yourself to eat and enjoy fruit and raw vegetables than pregnancy is an incredible time to get to know them all over again.
It is often the way that as mothers we will cut up fresh fruit for our children's healthy snacks and then just grab whatever for ourselves because we somehow don't see the value in ourselves and our health enough that we are worth the effort and time it takes to create healthy snacks for ourselves.
Have you ever cut up a juicy orange for your children, fresh crunchy stalks of celery and carrot or refreshing watermelon, eaten a piece and then marveled at how good it actually tasted and wondered why you don't do this for yourself? Instead of just quickly grabbing some biscuits, a coffee, sandwich or crisps?
When you have a sweet craving do you always address it with chocolate, lollies, cake or fizzy drink, have you ever tried some fresh fruit instead? It really might just pleasantly surprise you! Not just think of it and dismiss it as 'boring' but actually made a fresh fruit snack for yourself? While there is nothing wrong with having some chocolate or cake here and there, break it up with some fresh fruit and you'll really notice a difference in your health.
There can almost be a built up 'it's healthy so it wont be as exciting or appealing' resistance at the mere thought of tucking into a banana, some rock melon or an in season mandarin as adults.
We can also put such little value on fruit that we will not buy it at the supermarket because it is too expensive-instead falling in to the marketing trap of cheap junk foods, for example not buying a bag of oranges for $5.00 and instead spending that same $5.00 on an impulse buy of a special like 2 family blocks of chocolate for $5.00 or jam and cream buns on special buy for $5.00.
We might even be very happy that we got these as a 'bargain', where as see the oranges as rudely expensive.
Maybe even perhaps because they are grown on a tree?
Is it in fact possible that because we have such great access to fresh fruits and vegetables throughout most places in Australia and because they are something that is produced from a plant that we overlook just how much hard work and effort actually can go into bringing these fresh ingredients to our supermarket shelves?
Because they can be so readily available to overlook their actual significance and how fortunate we are to have such access to them all?
Or are we surrounded so much with fresh produce that it is no longer exciting?
Or does the fact that it is 'healthy' put us even subconsciously off?
Or have we learnt bad eating habits from our parents and just decide that we don't like fruit? Even if maybe there are many types we have actually never event tried?
When the craziest thing of it all is that if we did buy that in season quality fresh fruit instead of an unhealthy alternative not only would it taste delicious and be really satisfying but our bodies and health will respond positively too this great anti oxidant filled fuel.
The simple undeniable fact is you feel great when you eat great food. You feel flat and sluggish when you eat too much of these 'non' or 'sometimes' foods. The difference is huge.
Tips for turning yourself into a fruit lover
Go quality over quantity. While it can be tempting to always 'bargain buy' especially if your on a tight budget you can end up wasting your money in the long run if your left with uneaten fruit going off. If you can sometimes pick up some great cheap fruit that still tastes OK that by all means do so! But remember that no fruit is a 'bargain' if no-one eats it in the end.
Buy as fresh as you can afford. That cheap bag of apples that are a bit bruised and probably very old and even soft will not be full of fresh flavour that makes them a great delicious healthy snack-so unless you are planning on baking with old fruit go for fresh. 5 Gorgeous oranges that make 5 exciting and healthy morning teas is far better than a whole swag full at half the price that are left to go off in the fruit bowl because they tasted awful.
Shop for fruit you actually like. Ingrained habits can be hard to shake, sometimes we might buy the same fruit our parents did-whether we actually like it or not.Or what we have just always bought our family.
Do you always buy the same variety of apples? Have you ever tried other varieties? Do you skip a whole isle in the fruit section because everything there you are sure you don't like-or maybe you have never actually tasted? Is there some types of fruit that you actually love but you don't buy because they are generally more expensive so you can't justify it? When there are perfectly fine other fruit types you can buy and fill your fruit bowl with at a much smaller cost, never mind that you might not be actually very keen on them though and so therefore will be unlikely to end up eating any, leaving them instead for the rest of the family or even worse to just go off?
Do you find yourself buying some fruit each week just because you feel you should? Not because you actually really desire to eat it? This should tell you that you are not buying fruit you actually overly like.
Go for whats in season. Try and be more flexible with your shopping and eating habits, buying whats in season ensures you are getting your fresh produce at its peak and there is alot better chance of it being fresher and even having traveled less food miles to get to you. Some of the healthiest societies are those that's diet varies greatly depending on the season. For example the fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and sometimes even grains they eat in colder winter months being very different from what they eat in the more warmer summer ones.
Be creative. It can be all in the 'how'. Just plonking an apple in a lunchbox or grabbing an orange doesn't always make it a 'first pick' snack, sometimes just that little bit of preparation or presentation makes all the difference in the world.
Such as a juicy orange might sound great on a hot day but the thought of sticky fingers and the mess required to eat the said orange can be what causes it to be overlooked in favour of something much easier and less messy to eat.
That same orange peeled and cut into segments inside a container that has been chilled for easy access could be a most exciting and refreshing snack that you might even find yourself grabbing before an unhealthy option.
A chilled miniature fruit salad of chopped watermelon, blueberries and grapes can be just as appetising and fulfilling as some unhealthy biscuits-it just takes some effort to put together and the making of ourselves and what we eat a priority in our busy lives.
We can become 'experts' and creative inventors when it comes to great tasty and fun ways to get children to eat their fresh fruit and vegetables but not put even a little of this effort into ourselves.
Buy fruit as a snack; find yourself near a supermarket at around lunch time or when you are feeling peckish? Before heading to a takeaway stand, grabbing a choccy bar or pie have a stroll through the fresh fruit section, do the blueberries look especially tasty? Is their some really lovely looking bananas or apples? Give it a go, you'll probably be very pleasantly surprised and feel so good afterwards.
Take fruit to events; going on a family outing to the beach, park, a football game? Take a watermelon or bag of juicy oranges along, such a great way for everyone to enjoy some refreshing and energizing fruit together-also a great way to cost costs of buying expensive nibbles while out.
Great fruit tempting ideas:
Freezing fruit; it really adds a whole new dimension and is just beautiful on hot days. Frozen grapes, strawberries, blueberries and banana's all become like beautiful cool summer treats. You can eat them as is for a refreshing snack or blend them with some yogurt for a chilled delicious smoothie-also a great way of storing excess fruit when you can bulk buy cheap in season.
Add a little flair; dress up some chopped fruit with some low fat custard, yogurt or even ice cream for a delicious fruit salad you will excitedly devour.
Try serving it different ways; think grated apple, thinly sliced pear and cubes of mango.
Blend it; you can't beat a fresh delicious fruit smoothie for a power boost of great nutrients and a great healthy snack or breakfast.
Serve fruit nibbles when entertaining; platters of chopped fruit, fruit 'kebabs', fruit and low fat cheese combinations-get creative.
Be prepared. When you come home from shopping spend a few minutes and cut up some fruit for easy to grab snacks in the fridge-yes chop up some watermelon and rock melon, put it in an airtight container in the fridge, you will be so surprised at just how much more you will find yourself grabbing this for a snack when its easy and convenient.
So what are you waiting for? Go get a great refreshing fruit snack!
For more great ideas on eating healthier including supermarket shopping tips and advice and also great easy recipes check out The Pram Diet Book.
Available through Amazon, Angus & Robertson and even most Australian libraries.