When you are pregnant, you might find your appetite increasing. This makes sense; after all, you are eating for two. You might find yourself having a harder time holding up between meals, and you shouldn’t try to wait it out. Eating regularly throughout the day when you’re pregnant will lift your mood and give you a boost of energy.
On the other end, if you have terrible morning sickness, your appetite might suffer, and you might find it hard to eat throughout the day. But, your baby still needs you to eat, and certain foods can help you with that yucky nauseous feeling.
Of course, it’s not a good idea to reach for junk food at snack time, as much as pregnancy cravings might make you want to. Pregnancy is a great time to refine healthy eating habits so that you and baby are getting the nutrition that you need to be your best.
Here are some suggestions of simple, healthy snacks that can hold you through both early and late pregnancy.
What to Look for in a Pregnancy Snack
Don’t worry about adding a lot of extra calories. The average woman needs no additional caloric intake in her first trimester, 340 extra calories in her second trimester and only 450 additional calories in her last trimester. While you might need more (or less) than that depending on your weight, an extra 450 calories are easy for most women to attain; that’s the same as an extra tuna fish sandwich on wheat bread and a couple glasses of low-fat milk (both of which are great pregnancy snacks).
Look for snacks that provide you and baby with the proper nutrients that you need. Add variety to your diet with foods from all the food groups. Even separate foods within the same food group have different nutritional properties. Choose foods with different colors and textures to ensure that you are getting everything you need.
The best pregnancy snacks are foods that are processed as little as possible. For example, choose whole-grain bread and fresh fruit over white bread and rice or canned fruit packed in sugar.
Foods that are high in sugar, fats, and oil should be eaten very sparingly, but don’t get totally turned off by fats altogether. Healthy fats in reasonable amounts, like the ones found in yogurt, avocados, and nuts, are great for you and your growing baby.
And of course, unless your doctor says otherwise, occasionally giving in to a pregnancy craving for a less healthy food is perfectly alright. If you’re craving potato chips or a candy bar, there’s nothing wrong with indulging that occasionally.
Snack Suggestions for Morning Sickness
If you have severe morning sickness and find that you’re having trouble getting a full diet’s worth of nutrition in the first few weeks of pregnancy, don’t fret about it too much. Morning sickness is one of the worst pregnancy symptoms for many women, but it usually begins to subside within a few weeks. Your body, and your baby can probably handle a couple weeks of a less than optimal diet.
If you feel that morning sickness is interfering with your diet, though, make sure to mention it to your doctor or midwife. She might have additional suggestions for maintaining a healthy diet. If your morning sickness is especially severe, you might be prescribed medication for it.
Here are a few suggestions for early pregnancy snacks that can help you and your baby get the nutrition you need while easing some of the queasiness that often comes along with early pregnancy:
Ginger Tea: Ginger tea won’t help you meet your nutritional requirements, but it can make your stomach feel a lot better so that you can continue to eat healthy foods throughout the day. Unsweetened, it’s low in calories and sugar-free.
You can make your own ginger tea by boiling water and pour it over sliced fresh ginger. If you prefer, you can also buy commercially made tea bags.
Ginger is well known for being helpful with upset stomach symptoms, including morning sickness. If ginger tea is too strong of a taste for you, you can consider trying ginger ale or ginger candies. Be careful with those, though, as they are high in sugar.
Toast and Crackers: Dry, unseasoned bread products such as plain toast, rice cakes, pita bread, or crackers are a good snack for early pregnancy. Many women find that eating foods like these in the morning can ease their stomach and make them feel better throughout the day. Some women who are especially queasy upon rising like to keep a bag of crackers on the nightstand to have a few before even getting out of bed. If you get sick throughout the day, try keeping a few at your desk or in your purse to nibble on when sickness strikes.
Seeds: Pumpkin and sunflower seeds, as well as peas and legumes, contain high levels of vitamin B6, which is thought to help minimize early pregnancy sickness. Seeds are also high in other nutrients that you and your baby need, and come with the bonus of portability.
Mozzarella Cheese: Cheese is very fatty, but it contains a lot of calcium, which is one of the most important nutrients in pregnancy. Women who give birth can be prone to osteoporosis later in life; if you don’t get enough calcium, your baby can take it from your bones! Mozzarella is a great choice for early pregnancy because it’s less flavorful than other types of cheese.
If you can stomach them, nutrient-dense snacks such as cheese can be important in early pregnancy if you’re too queasy to stomach a whole meal. A very small serving of cheese contains a whole lot of nutrition in only a few bites.
Liquid Snacks: Maintaining proper hydration can help with morning sickness and a lot of other pregnancy symptoms. Of course, drinking plenty of water is very important, but if you’re having trouble eating, adding more substantial liquids can be a good way to add nutrition to your diet while settling your stomach.
Low-fat cow’s milk is a pregnancy staple; it contains a lot of calcium and other great pregnancy nutrients and is very soothing to some women’s stomachs. If you can’t stomach cow’s milk, plant-based milk such as soy milk or almond milk are still good choices. Make sure you’re getting enough calcium from other foods, though.
Warm broth can be settling as well, and some women enjoy gelatin-based foods in early pregnancy.
Frozen Fruit: Fruit is high in sugar, but also contains a lot of nutrition. Freezing chunks of fresh fruit such as cantaloupe, grapes, or watermelon can be a good way to get it down. The temperature of frozen snacks can be very soothing to an early pregnancy stomach.
Bananas are an especially good choice because they’re cheap, substantial, readily available, and full of nutrition. For a special frozen treat, you can mash bananas and immediately put them in the freezer for a few hours. With no other ingredients added, the frozen mash becomes the consistency of ice cream, while still maintaining the benefits of a fresh fruit snack.
Cucumbers or Celery and Hummus: Cucumbers and celery are easy to stomach, soothing snacks. If you can stomach it, try adding hummus. Hummus is a great power food full of protein.
This is also a fibrous snack that will keep everything moving along. If your stomach is already feeling off, the last thing you want to do is get backed up.
Snack Suggestions for Later Pregnancy
In the second and third trimesters, proper nutrition is key to feeling your best. This is also the time that you will need additional nutrients to feed your growing baby.
It was once thought that if a pregnant woman had a less than perfect diet, the fetus would steal the nutrients from her body and she would go without instead of the baby. We are beginning to find that this isn’t exactly true, and poor nutrition during pregnancy can affect your child for if he lives.
Here are some nutritious snacks that are easy to add in throughout your day at any point in pregnancy, especially during the second and third trimesters:
Eggs: Vitamin D is a very important nutrient, especially during pregnancy. It supports your baby’s immune system as well as growing bones and teeth. Because of this, pregnant women need more vitamin D than the rest of the population.
Eggs are a great pregnancy snack but don’t get rid of the yolk. Egg yolks are high in vitamin D, as are cans of fish and fortified milk. Egg yolks are also a great source of choline, which is an essential nutrient for baby’s brain growth.
When preparing eggs, make sure that the yolk is cooked thoroughly—you are at higher risk for food-borne illness while pregnant. Having the egg on a whole-wheat English muffin is a great morning snack. If you’re busy at work, hard-boiled eggs are an easy, portable, nutrient-dense snack that you can enjoy any time of the day.
Greek Yogurt: Regular yogurt is a good snack, but Greek yogurt is even better. It requires more milk to make than regular yogurt, and because of that it contains more protein and packs a whopping 15 percent of your daily calcium requirement in a single serving. Yogurt also contains probiotics, which have consistently been proven to help with digestion, and may even support balanced levels of vaginal flora. Many women are prone to yeast or bacterial infections while pregnant which are mostly harmless but annoying and eating yogurt regularly may help keep them in check.
When buying yogurt, though, be forewarned that many of the flavors on the shelf are very sugary. Plain, nonfat Greek yogurt is the best choice but is a bit tart to be especially palatable for most people. To make plain yogurt taste as good as the sweetened versions on the shelf, try adding a couple tablespoons of walnuts and some fresh blueberries. This will add a lot of flavors, as well as antioxidants, fiber, and healthy fats.
Avocado on Crackers: Avocado is a power food. It is packed full of fiber and potassium, a mineral that pregnant women require much higher levels of. A lack of potassium can lead to leg cramps, and avocados are one of the best sources available.
Mashing or slicing avocado and adding it to crackers or crispy bread is an easy, hearty, delicious pregnancy snack. Be sure to choose low-sodium, whole-grain crackers to add additional fiber.
The downside to avocado is that it doesn’t travel well and can be difficult to store. For a more portable version of this snack, you can experiment with making homemade guacamole, which can be preserved with lime juice. Of course, guacamole goes better with chips than crackers, so feel free to choose unsalted or low-sodium tortilla chips for a delicious classic snack. Add a little-shredded cheese, lettuce, and salsa to satisfy a nacho craving.
Apple and Cheese: If you’re not getting your apple a day, there’s no better time than pregnancy to start. Apples are readily portable and full of fiber, which can help you stay full and lower your cholesterol. Consider adding in a small slice of cheese, which will add protein and calcium to the snack and make it heavier.
When you are choosing apples at your local supermarket, consider going organic. The skin of apples is especially prone to pesticide residue.
Baked Potatoes: A potato might not seem like an easy snack, but it’s easy to “bake” them in the microwave. Simply stab the potato several times with a fork or knife, rinse it, and put it on a plate in the microwave until the right consistency (usually about 5 minutes).
Having a potato is a good way to add folate, potassium, and iron. It’s important to get enough iron during pregnancy, as it helps your red blood cells carry oxygen through your body, and helps your baby’s brain development. Potatoes also contain vitamin C, which increases iron absorption.
The downfall of baked potatoes is the toppings we like to put on them. Instead of topping your potato with sour cream or butter, try adding plain yogurt and a pinch of chives.