Cari Stover can't stop thinking about cinnamon rolls. She's seven months pregnant with her second child and, during this pregnancy, she's found herself spreading cinnamon-scented dough on a baking sheet more than once. "I tried to ignore it," she said. "But once I finally ate those cinnamon rolls, I could get on with my life."
Getting on with her life means raising her energetic 3-year-old and working as a nurse practitioner. It also means finding a balance between Cinnabon and, um, the kind of foods that don't come with a side of icing. She talked to us about eating healthfully while you're expecting, handling cravings, and giving her 3-year-old daughter breakfast Skittles.
1. How does being pregnant change your approach to nutrition?
I feel like I always eat pretty healthfully, pregnant or not, but I definitely allow myself more indulgences when I'm pregnant. That's secondary, though, to ensuring that I'm providing adequate nutrition for the baby.
2. Did you learn anything during your first pregnancy that is helpful going into this one?
I realized that I just needed to eat when I was hungry. I also learned that it's best to give into those cravings, in moderation. Yeah, I've had some cinnamon rolls, but I'm not to the point where I'm like "Screw it, the baby wants a number seven from Taco Bell."
3. Does having a 3-year-old affect your meal choices?
4. I'll take that as a yes. Does she eat what you and your husband eat?
[Laughs again] She ate Skittles for breakfast this morning. I had to bribe her so she'd wear shoes and I was like, Fine, eat some Skittles. It was a fair trade. But, to answer your question, no, she's very picky. Most meals I end up making an adult meal and then something that she'll eat because she automatically doesn't like whatever's on our plates — even if it's the exact same thing that's on her plate.
5. How do you define being healthy?
It means having a balanced approach to food and exercise. It also means taking care of myself, because if I don't feel like I'm taken care of then I can't take care of the rest of my little family.
6. What does healthy eating look like for you?
It's eating mostly healthy foods, but not depriving myself either. I'm not going to pass up on a meal out or a dessert just because I feel like I shouldn't have it. It's just a balance of eating mostly good foods and then eating like a dumpster when you and I get together. [Author's note: Cari is my younger sister].
7. What's your favorite healthy breakfast?
Oatmeal with peanut butter. I usually eat that — especially when it's cold.
8. Do you have a favorite grocery snack?
Probably any form of cheese.
9. Do you have any weird food rituals?
I don't know if it's weird, but I do try to make a point to eat meals while I'm sitting down. I don't want to be shoving hospital cafeteria pizza in my face outside a patient's room, or eating in my car. I try to make time — just a few minutes — to savor my food instead of downing three meals a day in my driver's seat.
10. What's your go-to healthy dinner?
Stir-fried ground turkey with cauliflower fried rice.
11. What do you eat when you're too tired to cook?
Either cereal or hummus and crackers.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.