You already know that a healthy pregnancy diet is important for both you and your baby, but when hunger strikes and you have nothing on hand, you might be tempted to grab something quick and easy like a bag of salty chips or a package of cookies. Being prepared with list of healthy pregnancy snacks that are made up of whole foods and are nutrient dense however, is the way to go.
Healthy snacks will help satisfy your hunger, keep your blood sugar levels stable, and prevent fatigue, overeating and weight gain. Noshing on good-for-you options can also help satisfy pregnancy cravings and fill in nutritional voids if you have food aversions and morning sickness.
Despite what you may have heard about eating for two, during the first trimester you actually don’t need to consume extra calories. If you have a normal body mass index (BMI), an extra 340 calories a day during the second trimester and an extra 450 calories a day in the third trimester is appropriate, according to the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Need some snack ideas? Here are 10.
1. Guacamole and raw veggies
With 20 vitamins and minerals including vitamins B5, B6, C, E, K, folate and potassium, avocado is also a good source of protein and fiber.
Avocado is also an excellent source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—healthy fats that can satisfy your hunger and help to reduce bad cholesterol and the risk for heart disease later on in life.
Pair carrots, celery, broccoli, jicama or your favorite raw vegetable with guacamole or mashed avocado for a healthy, delicious and satisfying snack.
2. Tuna and celery or whole grain crackers
Studies show eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy is vital for baby’s brain and retina development.
Eating these healthy fats may even determine when your baby is born and prevent postpartum depression, according to a 2010 study in the journal Reviews In Obstetrics & Gynecology.
The best source of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically EPA and DHA, are from fish.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) say it’s safe to eat two, 8-12 ounce servings of fish per week.
Tuna, canned light and skipjack, are low-mercury options that’s are also easy and quick to pull together for a snack.
Pair tuna fish with celery, which is a good source of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, vitamins A, C, K, folate and potassium. It’s also high in fiber: a 1/2 cup has nearly 2 grams. Or if you’re craving carbs, add a few whole-grain crackers.
3. Hard boiled egg and an apple
Eggs are an excellent source of protein—1 egg has nearly 7 grams—to satisfy your hunger and give you plenty of energy.
They’re also a good source of vitamin D, which is vital for your baby’s bone development and your own health.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), between 1,000 and 2,000 IU per day of vitamin D is safe.
Since most prenatal vitamins only have 400 IU of vitamin D, getting eggs in your diet is a good idea.
Eggs also have choline, which is important for brain development—so much so that the American Medical Association recently recommended pregnant women get more of it in their prenatal vitamins.
Pair a hard boiled egg with an apple and you have a healthy, delicious and portable snack.
4. Greek yogurt and berries
With 17 grams of protein per serving, a great source of calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B12, and rich in gut-friendly, immune-boosting probiotics, Greek yogurt is one of the best healthy pregnancy snacks.
When choosing a yogurt however, read labels and stick with brands that are low in sugar and made without artificial ingredients and preservatives.
Top Greek yogurt with raspberries (fresh or frozen) which are high in fiber, and a good source of vitamins C and K, and magnesium.
5. Chia seed pudding with fruit
An excellent source of protein, fiber and healthy fats, chia seeds are an excellent choice to snack on when hunger strikes.
Chia seed pudding takes only a few minutes to whip up and you can store a batch in your refrigerator or in individual mason jars for grab-and-go snacks. Top with fruit for even more fiber and a hint of sweetness.
6. Iron fortified cereal with banana
Since your blood volume doubles during pregnancy, it’s important to get enough iron so you won’t become anemic.
Iron-fortified cereal is also a great choice but look for those that have an 80 to 90 percent daily value of iron.
Add sliced bananas, which are a good source of potassium, vitamin B6, and fiber: 1 small banana has 2.6 grams.
7. Green smoothie
Green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach and broccoli are excellent sources of vitamins A, C, K, iron, and B vitamins which are important for your baby’s brain development and nervous system.
They’re also good sources of calcium which is important to help your baby develop strong teeth and bones.
One way to get plenty of green leafy vegetables into your diet, especially if you’re battling morning sickness, is to make them into a cold green smoothie or green juice.
A good rule of thumb: choose an 80/20 ratio of vegetables to fruit and add a protein source like peanut butter or a protein powder.
8. Hummus and baby carrots
Carrots are a good source of vitamins A, C, K, B6, folate, iron, potassium and fiber: 1/2 cup has nearly 3 grams.
Pair carrots with hummus, which has nearly 8 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup, and you have a healthy snack anytime of day.
9. Homemade trail mix
Store-bought trail mixes make can he a healthy option but read labels carefully because many brands are packed with “yogurt-” covered raisins, chocolate chips and M&Ms—all sources of sugar.
You can also make your own trail mix with unsalted nuts and seeds, raisins, toasted coconut and granola, but be sure to stick to 1/4 cup.
10. Sliced pear with cheddar cheese
Pears are sweet and refreshing, a good source of vitamins C and K, and with more than 4 grams of fiber per serving, they can also help prevent pregnancy constipation.
Add an ounce of sliced cheddar or Colby-Jack and you have one of the best healthy pregnancy snacks.