Expecting? Yay, it's time to eat for two!
Well, not exactly. It's one of those common pregnancy myths that we wish were true!
While we do need more calories during pregnancy, it's only about 300 extra calories per day.
Yet many expectant mamas report feeling very hungry, and often.
But if we only need around 300 extra calories, why do we get so hungry and have so many cravings?
One reason we might have more cravings, our body needs more nutrition during pregnancy and the foods we choose are not nutrient dense. Some cravings might simply be due to our regular eating habits.
We need more protein, more healthy fats and more vitamins and minerals. Another theory is our cravings are simply a cultural norm, we're told we will have pregnancy cravings and that we need to eat for two.
Whatever the reason for our cravings, it is important to make healthy choices. It's okay to have a small treat here and there, but it is important we think of food as fuel for our health and growing our baby.
5 Healthy Pregnancy Snacks
Here are 5 quick and healthy snacks that can help curb cravings and provide us with great nutrition during pregnancy:
#1: Hummus With Vegetables
Hummus provides us with protein and healthy fats. Spices used to flavor the hummus can also offer health benefits. Using raw veggies to dip, rather than chips or bread, makes this a very nutrient dense snack. The savory flavors of hummus and the crunch of vegetables can help curb our junk food cravings for chips and dip.
Broccoli is a great veggie for dipping, it is an excellent source of folate. Bell peppers/capsicum, carrots, celery and tomatoes are also great for dipping.
Homemade hummus is likely to be lower in sodium and be free of preservatives which makes it a better option than commercially packaged versions. You might also be able to find a healthy prepared version in your grocers freshly prepared food section. If you want to make your own, it can be done with simple ingredients in just a few minutes:
- 1 can of garbanzo beans/chickpeas, salt free if possible, rinsed
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2 tablespoons of tahini
- 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
- Salt, cumin, pepper, roasted red peppers and/or any other seasonings and flavors you desire
Blend all of the ingredients together in a food processor or high powered blender. Add water if necessary to reach your desired texture. Transfer to a bowl and add a little more olive oil and sprinkle with paprika if desired.
#2: Dark Chocolate, Nuts & Seeds
Let’s face it, we aren't likely to avoid sweet cravings, especially chocolate! The good news? A quality dark chocolate can provide us with some nutrition. A good high percentage cocoa provides us with calcium, magnesium and potassium. Up to 7 ounces per week of quality dark chocolate is considered a healthy source of these minerals.
Add some low or no salt nuts and this snack also offers healthy fats. Eating the chocolate with nuts will help you feel satisfied as protein helps us to feel and stay full. Walnuts, almonds, pistachios and cashews are a great source of healthy fats and protein.
Seeds are also a great accompaniment to many meals. Sprinkle chia or sesame seeds on top of meals (or in smoothies) for some nutrition that packs a punch.
These snack ideas, in moderation, offers great nutrition and an option to curve those sweet cravings!
#3: Avocado and Tomato Salad
This salad makes a great snack or even a meal side dish. The vinegar and salty taste can help curb cravings for savory snack foods. The avocado and olive oil offer healthy fat that is essential to a good diet. Cucumbers, tomato, onion and parsley all offer some essential vitamins and nutrients.
This simple recipe can be made in minutes. Just chop and toss all off the ingredients together.
- 1 ripe avocado
- ¼ cup chopped red onion or green onion
- 2 medium to large tomatoes
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 medium cucumber peeled or half an unpeeled English cucumber
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoons white vinegar
- splash of fresh lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
#4: Apple Slices & Nut/Seed Butters
This elementary snack still provides a great taste packed with nutrition. Sliced apples make a great substitute for crackers or bread when craving nut/seed butters. Peanut butter, almond butters and sun flower seed butter all offer healthy fats and protein.
While there was a brief period expectant mamas were concerned about eating nuts and nut allergies in their babies, we now know this isn't an issue. In fact, some research suggests eating nuts may reduce the risk of nut allergies in your children.
#5: Fresh Seasonal Fruit
Grabbing a piece of fresh in-season fruit is always an excellent snack option. In-season fruit is more likely to be local so you're eating it soon after it was harvested. Of course any fruit, local or not, can provide some nutrition. In-season fruit also tends to be sweeter so it may be better to kick those sugar cravings! Fruits like apples are best with the skin on – it contains fibre so you'll feel fuller. When eating fruit or vegetables with the skin on, remember to wash thoroughly before eating, especially if the fruit is not organic.
A great goal is to eat a rainbow each day. Eat a whole food to represent each colour. A varied diet helps ensure we get a variety of nutrition in natural forms. Our body absorbs nutrients best in their natural form. While prenatal vitamins are great, they aren't a substitute for a healthy, varied whole foods diet.
Pregnancy isn't a time to restrict your food intake or try fad diets, but it is a time to focus on healthy options. It is a good idea to eat to hunger, just make the choices health ones whenever possible. During pregnancy the body goes through many changes. You are, after all, making a human!
Make sure you're drinking lots of water too — a hydrating, electrolyte product like Endura is beneficial for mothers before and after the birth. The added magnesium helps ease and prevent cramps too, at a time when the nutritional demands on your body are high. Avoid sports drinks, most are full of sugar.
Good nutrition helps our body adjust well to the demands of pregnancy and can reduce our risk of complications such as hypertension and gestational diabetes. Head to your kitchen and start trying some healthy snacks and curb the cravings before they begin!