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!
Although we do need more calories during pregnancy, it’s only about 300 extra calories per day.
Even so, many expectant mamas report feeling very hungry, and often.
Healthy snacks during pregnancy
If we only need around 300 extra calories, why do we get so hungry and have so many cravings?
We need more protein, more healthy fats, and more vitamins and minerals.
A healthy pregnancy needs varied and balanced options. Moms and babies must have the kind of foods most needed to boost energy levels for pregnant women, and to help baby to thrive and grow.
Eating more calories isn’t necessarily the aim.
Healthy protein snacks for pregnancy are good options for snacks. Some of these options are listed below.
Unfortunately, many pregnant women don’t go for the healthy pregnancy snacks when they begin their pregnancy.
Morning sickness and food aversions are two things that can affect the kind of pregnancy snack moms reach for.
Extreme hunger pangs and low energy can also affect the digestive system during the first trimester and have moms reaching for unhealthy meals.
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 nourishment for the pregnancy and for the baby.
Healthy pregnancy snacks
Listed below are some ideas for quick and healthy snacks that can provide baby with great nutrition during pregnancy.
Unfortunately, morning sickness can lead to some really weird choices in early pregnancy.
During the first trimester, some women only want ice cream and pickles.
It’s important, though, to stick to the foods that the baby and your body needs.
Energy bars can seem enticing when you’re hungry and in a rush, but a little planning can give you snacks that are more delicious and healthy for baby.
11 quick snacks
Let’s be honest: most of us want foods with one or two ingredients.
Our lives are busy and we want to grab and go.
However, lack of careful planning of our snacks can lead to an imbalance in blood sugar levels.
Veggies are always good to nibble on but might not always sound good.
During pregnancy, many women also make the mistake of thinking that some foods are good for baby when in fact they could make better choices.
Let’s look at 11 quick snack ideas for you to try.
#1: Avocado and tomato salad
This salad is great for snacking or even as 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 nutrients.
This simple recipe can be made in minutes. Just chop and toss all of the ingredients together.
A large batch can be made in a big container for snacking on throughout the week.
- 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
#2: Hummus with veggies
Hummus provides healthy fat and is a great plant-based source protein.
Spices used to flavor hummus, such as garlic and cumin, can also offer health benefits.
If you use raw veggies to dip, rather than chips or bread, it becomes very nutrient-dense. Broccoli is an excellent source of folate and, lightly steamed, keeps its crunch so you can still dip.
Bell peppers or capsicum, carrots, celery, and tomatoes are also great for dipping and give that crunch you’re craving.
Homemade hummus is likely to be lower in sodium and free from preservatives, which makes it a better option than commercially packaged versions.
You might also be able to find a healthy prepared version in your grocer’s freshly prepared food section.
If you want to make your own, it can be done, using 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 tahini
- 2 tablespoons 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 achieve the texture you prefer.
Transfer to a bowl and add a little more olive oil and sprinkle with paprika if desired.
#3: Dark chocolate, nuts and seeds
Let’s face it, during pregnancy you’re likely to have sweet cravings, especially for chocolate.
The good news? A bar of quality dark chocolate can provide you with calcium, magnesium, and potassium. This can help ward off restless leg syndrome – a common complaint during pregnancy.
Choose a high percentage cocoa block over sugary milk chocolate next time. Up to 7 ounces of quality dark chocolate, per week, is considered a healthy source of these minerals.
Add some low-salt or unsalted nuts and add some healthy fat. Eating chocolate with nuts will help you feel satisfied, as protein helps us to feel and stay full.
Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and cashews are also great sources of healthy fats and protein.
Seeds are a great accompaniment to many meals. Sprinkle chia or sesame seeds on top of meals (or in smoothies) for extra nutrition that packs a punch.
These snack ideas, eaten in moderation, offer great nutrition and an option to curb those sweet cravings.
#4: Cheeses and cold cuts
Cheese is an excellent choice for snacking on the go because it fills you up quickly, thanks to its high protein count.
This pregnancy snack contains B vitamins, vitamin A and fat.
You can pair cheese with sliced rounds of cucumber or veggie sticks. Some women like to have deli meats with cheese but you need to be mindful of the risk of listeria.
Nuts are great snacks for moms because they’re so easy. They’re also an excellent choice if you want to boost your baby’s brain development in early pregnancy. Nuts are high in protein, folate, and fatty acids such as omega 3.
You can buy raw pre-packaged nuts from the supermarket if you forget to bring snacks from home.
Make sure to look at the nutrients in the different types of nuts.
For example, if you’re watching your carbs, you’ll want to go for almonds rather than cashews.
#6: Boiled eggs
Hard-boiled eggs are a great grab-and-go snack. Boil a few at a time and store them in the fridge. Then just grab one when you need a snack, or add them to a platter of crunchy vegetables.
Eggs contain vitamin B6, vitamin E, and vitamin D – all-important for a healthy pregnancy and growing a baby.
#7: A tablespoon of almond butter
Any nut butter is easy to eat and a good source of protein.
Almond butter is similar to peanut butter but is slightly higher in fiber. Almonds also have the highest amount of calcium – essential for healthy development of teeth and bones.
Nut butter is easy to have a spoonful of if you’re feeling little nausea but don’t want to eat. You can also spread it on slices of apple or other firm fruit.
Nut butter is high in fat and is a good source of folate. If you need to watch your calorie intake, limit nut butter to a few spoonfuls a day.
Olives are delicious and can be eaten straight from the jar or added to other food, making them an excellent snack for pregnancy.
Some women have a real craving for salty foods when pregnant, and olives satisfy that!
Olives contain antioxidants and can reduce the risk of heart disease due to their anti-inflammatory properties.
Make up a plate of olives, dried fruit, and cheese, for a satisfying and quick snack. Or add organic pita chips to make it a lunch.
The avocado is a superfood and, as a dip in the form of guacamole, it can be so satisfying to eat. Rich in folate and healthy fats, it’s the perfect snack during pregnancy.
You can buy guacamole from the supermarket, but it’s quick and easy to make at home. Simply mash a ripe avocado with some lime juice and a little salt. You can add whatever spices you like.
Avocados are also settling for the stomach so they can reduce nausea and fill you up quickly.
#10: Cucumber slices
Cucumbers are versatile because they can be paired with so many other healthy pregnancy snacks.
Trying spreading some nut butter (either peanut butter or almond butter), cream cheese, or even Greek yogurt on slices of this healthy vegetable for satisfaction with no bloating.
Peppers (also called capsicum) make an easy and versatile snack, too.
Peppers of all colors are a great way to boost your vitamin C and folate intake, but red peppers are the highest in nutrients.
Cut a few peppers into strips and keep them in the fridge for the week.
Dip in Greek yogurt or a bean-based dip for a quick post-breakfast bite.
7 High protein snacks
Sometimes you really need to up your protein levels, which means choosing a good combination of foods.
Protein is an essential building block for your baby’s growth during pregnancy.
Check out these 7 high protein pregnancy snacks:
#1: Apple slices and nut butter
Sliced apples make a great substitute for crackers or bread when you crave nut butter. Peanut butter, almond butter, and sunflower seed butter all offer healthy fats and protein.
Past dietary advice told expectant mamas not to eat nuts due to concerns it would cause nut allergies in their babies. We now know this is not the case.
In fact, research suggests eating nuts could reduce the risk of nut allergies in your children.
There’s a reason the egg is in every section of this article: it’s a superfood!
Look for eggs that are organic, and from chickens that are free ranged not caged. Some eggs are fortified with DHA, which is important for your baby’s developing brain, eyes, and nervous system.
One egg contains 6 grams of protein, which is more than 10% of your daily recommended allowance.
At 78 calories each, one or two hard-boiled eggs pack a punch within your extra allowance of 300 calories.
#3: Peanut or nut butter
Peanut butter, or another nut butter, is an all-star when it comes to healthy pregnancy snacks.
It can be eaten alone (in small amounts, a spoonful is plenty), spread on celery, or paired with baby carrots.
Try to keep your portion small because the calories in this food can add up quickly.
#4: Cottage cheese
Cheese is great as far as pregnancy snacks go, but cottage cheese is a superstar of protein and vitamin B12. It’s also a great source of phosphorus. It’s important for muscle movement, blood clotting, and bone development.
Simply eating a small bowl of cottage cheese can fill you up if you’re feeling hungry.
This delicious fruit is a rich source of fiber, vitamin C, and folate. Research suggests guava can also relieve common pregnancy digestive problems, such as reflux and constipation.
Surprisingly, guava is also one of the most protein-rich fruits around. You’ll get a whopping 4.2 grams of protein in every cup. It’s recommended you wash and peel the skin to avoid any contamination that might increase the risk of listeria.
#6: Parmesan cheese
Parmesan has a great protein count and can be added to other foods by grating it onto your main meals or combining it with items such as cold cuts or olives.
You can also bake parmesan cheese to make crisps! A quick search online will show you how easy and fast you can make these one ingredient snacks.
#7: Pumpkin seeds
These are easy to purchase in their raw form from the supermarket. A handful of pumpkin seeds, added to any platter or eaten on their own, gives you a satisfying burst of protein. They’re also an excellent source of zinc, which is essential for fuelling the rapid growth of your baby.
You can easily roast pumpkin seeds at home with a little olive oil and salt to make them even tastier. About 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds contains 186 calories, providing nearly half of the recommended extra calories for pregnant women.
7 healthy snacks for cravings
Pregnancy cravings are pretty common and sometimes you just have to give into them. If you can find a healthy alternative that hits the spot, that’s even better!
Try one of these ideas for a healthy snack when cravings hit.
#1: Fresh seasonal fruit
Grabbing a piece of fresh in-season fruit is always an excellent snack option.
Fruits like apples are best with the skin left on; it contains fiber so you’ll feel fuller.
Berries are also an excellent option, as they’re lower in sugar than other fruits.
When eating fruit or vegetables with the skin on, remember to wash them thoroughly before eating, especially if the fruit isn’t organic.
Fish is rich in iodine and omega 3 fatty acids and, although you have to be careful of the type and amount you eat, it can still be a part of your pregnancy diet.
Canned tuna or salmon are excellent. They make easy snacks that you can have stashed in your cupboard or drawer. It’s safe to have 2-3 serves of canned tuna or salmon per week.
It’s best to buy fish packed in water, and then add some mayonnaise or a little olive oil for moisture. Olive oil has excellent benefits for brain function, including learning and memory.
Here’s your chance to pack all those healthy things into a powerful breakfast.
You can add berries, Greek yogurt, and even spinach. If you don’t drink cow’s milk, experiment with almond or oat milk. You could try coconut water or even plain water.
#4: Fruit salad
If you’re craving sugar, a fruit salad could be the perfect way for you to satisfy your needs without going for the less healthy options.
Try to avoid too much high sugar fruit, such as bananas and pears.
#5: Greek yogurt
Yogurt is versatile and has plenty of health benefits, including good bacteria for your gut.
Did you know that a healthy digestive system during pregnancy helps give your baby’s immune system a head start?
You can add fresh fruit, chia seeds, or even cocoa powder for a sweet taste.
Yogurt provides the calcium your body needs during this time without being too high in calories.
#6: Dried fruit
Dried fruit can be eaten on its own, combined with zucchini chips for a sweet and salty high fiber trail mix, or mixed into plain yogurt to satisfy your desire for sweet foods.
Try to stay away from pre-packaged supermarket trail mix, as it often contains preservatives or unhealthy ingredients.
#7: Sweet potato chips
Sweet potatoes contain vitamins B and C and are high in fiber.
If you have a dehydrator, you can easily make your own sweet potato chips.
Indulge your sweet tooth with a drizzle of honey or, if you’re looking for something savory, sprinkle sea salt and dip your chips in sour cream.
Healthy evening snacks for pregnancy
Pregnancy isn’t a time to restrict your food intake or try fad diets, but it is a time to focus on healthy options.
As Dr. Andrew Orr points out, this can be difficult: “With so much conflicting information, it’s very confusing to know what’s actually healthy”.
Make sure you use your intuition, and do your own research to understand how your body reacts to certain foods.
Often it’s suggested you eat more grain-based snacks, as they’re low in calories. But, says Dr. Orr, “Grain cereal can cause bloating and intestinal upset”.
It’s better to opt for protein-based snacks in the evening, as they will help keep you fuller for longer and reduce the amount you need to eat.
Eggs or nuts such as almonds are a good source of melatonin, which helps you get a better night’s sleep.
And that’s something every pregnant woman needs!