Healthy Snacks Ideas for Pregnant Women
What to Know
- Learn why snacks are a healthy part of your diet
- Learn how to make a satisfying snack combination
Pregnancy can leave you feeling tired and hungry – and for good reason, you’re building a little human! While our calorie needs do not increase much, our nutrient needs do, so it’s important to make quality food choices. Each time we eat is another opportunity to get the vitamins and minerals needed for growth and development.
If we fall short of our nutrient requirements, the baby’s needs will be satisfied first, leaving us depleted. Having a variety of balanced, delicious snacks is key to helping us feel our best while providing our body and our baby with the right nutrients.
What do we need more of during pregnancy? Folate, iron, and protein needs increase almost 50% during this time! Nutrients we need more of, along with the foods they’re found in, include:
- Vitamin A: Carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut squash, apricots, and dark leafy greens. Egg yolk, whole milk, butter, and cheese.
- Vitamin B12: Animal-based foods and fortified foods such as plant- and nut-based milks or cereals.
- Vitamin C: Bell pepper, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits.
- Choline: Milk, peanuts, and eggs.
- Folate: Beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, dark leafy greens, as well as fortified foods such as bread. Women who are pregnant should also take a prenatal supplement that contains folic acid or folate.
- Iodine: Iodized salt is a key source of iodine, so using some in cooking is important. Iodine is also found in sea vegetables such as seaweed and kelp, salt-water fish, milk, and eggs.
- Iron: Animal meats, soybeans, lentils, dark leafy greens, and sesame seeds.
- Magnesium: Sunflower, safflower, flax, and pumpkin seeds, nuts, and beans.
- Zinc: Animal meat, soybeans, nuts and seeds, cheese.
When putting together a snack, think about the above foods as well as having a combination of complex carbohydrate – fresh fruit, vegetables, or whole grains – along with some protein. The carbohydrates give your body immediate energy while the protein gives you lasting, satisfying fullness.
Below are ideas for your next snack.
Dairy / Eggs
- Unsweetened Greek yogurt mixed with chopped apple and drizzled with peanut or nut butter
- Unsweetened Greek yogurt whisked with pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice
- Cheese on a pear
- Cheese with whole grain crackers
- Cottage cheese mixed with pineapple or raspberries
- Part skim ricotta cheese dolloped onto bell pepper slices and sprinkled with pepper
- Part skim ricotta cheese mixed with blueberries and unsweetened cocoa powder
- Hard boiled egg with fresh bell pepper or sugar snap peas
- Hard boiled egg or scrambled egg on whole grain toast
Nuts & Seeds
- Baked or microwaved sweet potato drizzled with tahini or sesame seeds
- Nut butter (peanut, almond, sunflower, tahini, etc) on a banana with cinnamon
- Trail mix: pumpkin seeds, walnuts, dried figs and raisins
- Almonds and pecans processed with pitted dates and cinnamon, then rolled into balls
- Cucumber Salad: 1 chopped cucumber, 1 Tbsp rice or red wine vinegar, 2 tsp olive oil, 2 tsp sesame or sunflower seeds
- Baby kale drizzled with olive oil, salt, pepper, and orange slices
- Grated carrots mixed with olive oil, lime juice, and pepper
- Baby spinach, chopped, and tossed with raisins, walnuts, and a dash of olive oil and lemon juice
- Chopped raw broccoli mixed with sunflower seeds, chopped apricot, walnuts, and a mixture of equal parts plain yogurt and balsamic vinegar plus 2 tsp sugar
- Mashed avocado on whole grain English muffin
- Hummus with bell pepper spears or carrots
- Edamame with salt, chili powder, and lemon
- Garbanzo beans mixed with chopped bell pepper, sunflower seeds, red wine vinegar, and seasoning of choice.
- Black beans mixed into salsa eaten with corn tortilla chips
Poultry and Meat
- Small whole wheat tortilla spread with hummus and topped with chopped chicken and baby spinach
- Chopped turkey breast mixed with plain Greek yogurt, sunflower seeds, chopped celery, chopped grapes, and seasoning of choice; and eaten with whole grain crackers
- Small lean meatballs, quartered and mixed with halved grape tomatoes, chopped basil, and sprinkled with parmesan cheese
What to Do
Eat frequently throughout the day.
Going too long without eating can lead to extra fatigue and drops in blood sugar. Eating frequently can help you keep your energy levels up throughout the day as well as provides more chances to get the nutrients you and your baby need. If you know you may be out-and-about or working for longer than this time frame, plan ahead by bringing a portable snack with you, or stocking them in your office or purse, such as:
- Whole fruit plus nuts
- Bars made with fruits and nuts
- Fresh popped popcorn plus dried fruit and nuts
- Whole grain crackers with nut butter
Remember the combination!
Choose a protein (nuts, seeds, yogurt, cheese, eggs, beans, poultry, meat) along with a complex carbohydrate (fruits, vegetables, whole grains) for both quick and lasting energy and satiety.
To help get all the nutrients you and your baby need, choose different color vegetables and fruit, as well as different types of proteins and whole grains. This will also help you to keep your snacks new and interesting so that you don’t get sick of them too quickly.
Keep healthy food stocked and in sight.
And hide the foods you’d like to avoid. This way the first thing you see will be your go-to snack items, making you more likely to eat them. Take the time to cut up fruit and chop veggies to leave in the fridge for easy grab and go snacks.
Keeping highly processed snack items behind other foods in cabinets or the refrigerator makes them less accessible. Out of sight, out of mind!
When we eat while multitasking we often do not take the time to recognize that we have had enough, leaving us eating more than we may really need in order to satisfy those original hunger pangs. When possible, set aside what you’re doing so that you can focus on eating your snack, even if for just 5 minutes. Giving yourself time to eat without distraction allows you to be mindful of your hunger levels and also enables you to enjoy your food!
“Nutrient Recommendations: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI).” US Dept of Health and Human Services, National Institues of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements, date accessed July 28, 2018 <https://ods.od.nih.gov/Health_Information/Dietary_Reference_Intakes.aspx>
“Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Nutrition and Lifestyle for a Healthy Pregnancy Outcome.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (July 2014) <https://www.eatrightpro.org/~/media/eatrightpro%20files/practice/position%20and%20practice%20papers/practice%20papers/practice_paper_healthy_pregnancy.ashx>