The Busy Woman's Diet

Takeout, frozen entrees and even fast food can be a healthful part of your prenatal plan. We give you the best choices for each.

In an ideal world, you would always follow Plan A: Exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and eat well-balanced meals (preferably homemade and organic) to have the healthiest pregnancy possible. The reality is, you're lucky to get to work on time, let alone eat a sensible breakfast! While you may wish for more time to rest or exercise, you still can eat well when life feels out of control. This is particularly important now that you're expecting, when you and your baby need nutrients such as calcium, folate, fiber, iron and protein to function and develop properly. The trick is to have a healthy Plan B. With the help of Christine M. Palumbo, R.D., a nutritionist in Chicago, we show you how to make easy, healthful meals packed with important prenatal nutrients using fast food, takeout or frozen entrees. Enjoy!


Many restaurants now have healthful dishes noted on their menus, and most will modify the dishes if you ask them to.

Pizza Parlor

Order A small vegetable pizza--mushrooms, peppers, broccoli and tomatoes--with tomato sauce, but no cheese; and a garden salad with no dressing

At Home Sprinkle reduced-fat shredded cheese or grated Parmesan (it's extremely high in calcium) over pizza and heat in a 350* F oven until cheese melts. Palumbo suggests dressing salad with 2 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. Eat half the pizza, saving the other half for another meal. Enjoy fresh grapes for dessert. Key Nutrients Calcium, fiber, folate and vitamin C


Order Hot-and-sour soup; beef (or chicken) and broccoli; fortune cookies (they're low-fat!)

At Home Make a pot of quick-cooking brown rice (fiber is important to fight constipation, Palumbo says). Eat 1 1/2 cups of the beef or chicken and broccoli with rice, saving the leftovers for another meal. Cut an orange into sections for a vitamin C-rich dessert and eat with the fortune cookies.

Key Nutrients Complex carbohydrates (a high-quality source of energy, vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals), fiber, folate, protein and vitamin C


Order Salsa, but no chips; fish Veracruz (with tomatoes); side order of black beans

At Home Have baked corn chips with salsa; steam asparagus for a side dish and enjoy calcium-rich, low-fat cocoa with a sprinkle of cinnamon and cayenne pepper for dessert.

Key Nutrients Fiber, folate, protein and vitamin C


Order Green papaya salad (or garden salad); barbecue beef and sauteed mixed vegetables

At Home Make a pot of fiber-rich, quick-cooking brown rice to eat with the vegetables and half the barbecue beef; save leftover beef for another meal. Enjoy sliced pineapple for dessert.

Key Nutrients Complex carbohydrates, iron, fiber and vitamins C and E


Order Cooked edamame; seaweed (or garden) salad and an assortment of cooked sushi and/or vegetarian sushi, such as California rolls (crab meat, avocado and cucumber), shiitake mushroom rolls, omelet sushi or cooked shrimp sushi

At Home Dip sushi in low-sodium soy sauce; enjoy a wedge of cantaloupe for dessert.

Key Nutrients Beta carotene, mono- and polyunsaturated fats (from avocado and edamame; these fats have a beneficial effect on cholesterol), protein and vitamin C

Fast Food

Here are some good fast-food picks, based on items that contain a modest amount of fat, sodium and cholesterol. Avoid high-fat salad dressings, sauces and additions, such as cheese, croutons and sour cream. Look for whole-wheat breads, rolls and wraps, and order water or reduced-fat (2%) milk to drink.


Order A Bacon Ranch Salad with Grilled Chicken (not Crispy Chicken). Ask for a packet of low-fat balsamic vinaigrette or Italian salad dressing and use only half of it to avoid excessive sodium, Palumbo suggests. Have Apple Dippers (no caramel) for dessert.

Key Nutrients Calcium, fiber and protein

Burger King

Order The Original Whopper Jr. burger with no mayonnaise and a garden salad with no dressing; tuck the salad into the sandwich. Have Strawberry-Flavored Applesauce for dessert.

Key Nutrients Fiber, iron, protein and vitamin C


Order The Broccoli and Cheese Hot Stuffed Potato. Request a side of salsa to enjoy over the potato. Have the Mandarin Orange Cup for dessert.

Key Nutrients Fiber, protein and vitamin C

Taco Bell

Order A Grilled Steak Soft Taco "Fresco Style," the new low-fat option that substitutes a healthful tomato salsa for fatty sauces and cheese. Sip a reduced-fat (2%) chocolate milk for dessert.

Key Nutrients Protein, calcium and vitamin C


Order The Tender Roast Sandwich without sauce. Remove the top piece of bread to eat it as an open-faced sandwich. At Home, add a side of green bean salad.

Key Nutrients Protein, folate, fiber, iron and vitamin C

Frozen Entrees

Frozen meals can be loaded with sodium and fat, says nutritionist Christine M. Palumbo, so be sure to read labels carefully. Healthful options, such as the ones below, are available in most major supermarkets.

Cedarlane Organic

Low-Fat Macaroni And Cheese Supplement it with a garden salad with reduced-fat dressing (or 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil and a splash of fresh lemon or balsamic vinegar). Have a crisp apple for dessert. Key Nutrients Calcium, fiber and monounsaturated fat

Ethnic Gourmet

Vietnamese Chicken (thit ga kho tieu) This entree includes vegetables and rice. Boost nutrients with a carton of reduced-fat (2%) milk and dried fruit for dessert. Key Nutrients Calcium, fiber, iron and protein

Healthy Choice

Salisbury Steak And Redskin Mashed Potatoes Round it out with a green vegetable, such as steamed green beans, and fresh strawberries for dessert. Key Nutrients Calcium, fiber, iron, protein and vitamin C

Amy's Kitchen

Organic Indian Vegetable Korma Includes curried vegetables, raisins, cashews, rice, spiced lentils and beans. Finish the meal off with fresh grapes for dessert. Key Nutrients Complex carbs, fiber, iron and protein

Uncle Ben's

Rice Bowls Sweet & Sour Chicken Accompany it with crisp raw vegetables (baby carrots, cucumber spears, sweet pepper strips) and a ripe pear for dessert. Key Nutrients Beta carotene, complex carbs, fiber, iron, protein and vitamin C