Best ideas for pregnancy snacks

Happy smiling pregnant woman enjoying healthy pregnancy snacks

Last Updated October 11th, 2020

Nutrition during pregnancy

The variety of physical and hormonal changes that occur in the body during pregnancy are quite demanding for a would-be mother. For this reason, the right level of nutrition, even if it’s via pregnancy snacks, is essential when it comes to maintaining good health.

Since the food consumed is also the main source of nourishment for the baby, it must meet the necessary nutrition criteria from all aspects. The vital aspect to keep in mind is that what mothers consume during pregnancy will affect the health of the baby in the future.

Happy pregnant couple eating breakfast together

While the age-old adage “eating for two” is not necessarily true for a pregnant woman, the right balance of macro and micronutrients is essential at this stage. While the essential vitamins and minerals are classified and micronutrients, the macronutrients mainly consist of carbohydrates, proteins and fats that deliver energy.

It is also normal to gain some weight during pregnancy, and with the change in diet patterns, the weight gain should be closely monitored. Excess weight gain can have an adverse effect on the mother in the long run.

Healthy snacking during pregnancy

Healthy eating and healthy snacking during pregnancy consist of the following steps.

Vegetables

Consuming a variety of vegetables of different colours is important. This should be balanced with two or three servings of food.

Whole grains

While consuming grain and cereal foods, it is important to include wholegrain and high fibre options as a part of a healthy pregnancy snack through multiple servings in a day.

Iron

Iron-rich foods are extremely important during pregnancy and hence items like tofu, nuts, spinach and legumes.

Calcium

Since calcium is another important element that is required, drinking milk, eating hard cheese and yoghurt and other calcium-enriched alternatives is important.

Water

Drinking a sufficient volume of water is crucial.

Main nutrients needed during pregnancy

As per the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the following nutrients are vital during pregnancy.

Happy smiling pregnant woman enjoying healthy pregnancy snacks

Calcium

The daily calcium requirement during pregnancy is 1,000 milligrams (mg). It is found in food items like milk, cheese, yogurt, and sardines. Calcium is important in building strong bones and teeth for the baby. It also supports a healthy heart, nerves and muscles. 

Iron

Iron is a vital component of the red blood cells that carry oxygen to the baby. During pregnancy, the daily need for iron is 27 mg, and this is needed to avoid any risk of developing anemia.

Vitamin A

This vitamin is needed for healthy skin, eyesight and proper bone growth. Food items like carrots, dark, leafy greens and sweet potatoes are ideal sources of this vitamin. The requirement has been estimated at 770 micrograms per day.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that prevents cell damage and is essential for tissue repair and the prevention of infections. It also helps the body to absorb iron, and the estimated daily requirement is 85mg. The best sources of Vitamin C are citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes and strawberries.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of calcium in the body, and it also reduces the chances of low birth weight and preterm birth. The primary source of Vitamin D is exposure to sunlight, and is also found in food components like fortified milk and fatty fish like salmon. The daily requirement has been marked at 600 international units (IUs).

Vitamin B6

It helps to form red blood cells and helps your body use protein, fat, and carbohydrates. You can find vitamin B6 in beef, liver, pork, whole-grain cereals, and bananas. During pregnancy, you need 1.9 mg daily.

Vitamin B12

This vitamin develops the red blood cells and ensures the health of the nervous system. Some research has indicated that it reduces the chances of spinal and central nervous system defects in the baby. The primary sources of the vitamin are liver, meat, fish, poultry and milk. The daily requirement is 2.6 micrograms.

Folate (Folic Acid)

This is a B vitamin that plays an important role in the growth of the placenta and prevents birth defects in the baby. The lack of folate in the diet can cause folate-deficiency anaemia. Foods rich in folate include green, leafy vegetables, liver, orange juice, legumes and nuts. During the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the daily requirement for folate is 400 micrograms in a day. After that, the recommended daily intake is 600 micrograms.

Restrictions on pregnancy snacks and foods

It is important to include the right items in your pregnancy snack chart. Include snacks that will have a positive impact on the baby and abstain from consuming a few items. In addition, smoking, including passive smoking, can result in preterm delivery and low birth weight of the infant. There is also evidence that maternal smoking and respiratory diseases among children are directly related. Some items whose consumption should be controlled or restricted are listed below.

Alcohol

Pregnant women should not consume alcohol and this includes beer, wine, liquor, mixed drinks and malt beverages. It has been noted that even moderate levels of drinking can result in behavioural and other developmental problems in the child.

Pregnant woman refusing to drink wine offered by someone. Wants to eat healthy pregancy snack. Avoids unhealthy, bad junk food

Heavy drinking can lead to malformation and mental retardation in the baby and should be avoided completely.

Caffeine

The fact that caffeine is a stimulant and it raises blood pressure and heart rate, is the reason it is not recommended during pregnancy. The baby’s delicate system is not matured enough to handle caffeine and it can cause problems in sleep and movement patterns of the foetus. It can also lead to dehydration of the body when consumed frequently. The role of the stimulant in miscarriage is not clear at this stage and hence it is best to limit caffeine intake during pregnancy.

Fish

While fish is a great source of protein and other vital nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, it is important to choose the type of fish cautiously. Some types of fish can contain high levels of mercury which can cause an adverse impact on the growth of the baby. These types of fish include shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.

Healthy pregnancy snacking

Choosing small bites of pregnancy snacks over heavy meals has some distinct advantages. They help in combatting nausea, food aversions, cravings and other digestive issues and can also help in gaining the necessary nutrients that might be missing from your diet. The best way to make sure that you are snacking in the right way during your pregnancy is to prepare the best snack by yourself in the best possible manner. It is also necessary to choose healthy and nutritious items over items packed with sugar and calories.

Pregnant lady getting nauseated and sick by cookies offered by husband. Has food aversion.

There are some basic items that you need to avoid during snacking, and this includes sugar cookies and candy bars. While such items can cause blood sugar fluctuations, it can also increase the weight of the baby, making the process of delivery difficult. Fried food with a lot of unhealthy fats is not a good choice either, and it can also make you feel bloated and sluggish. When it comes to drinks, soda and juices are to be avoided as the former contains chemicals. The latter is loaded with sugar. Some ideal items that can be used as pregnancy snacks that can be consumed during these times are listed below.

  • Yogurt topped with fresh fruit
  • Dips like hummus, guacamole, salsas or mashed bean dip
  • Fresh fruit and veggies
  • Smoothies
  • Baked pita chips
  • Low-sugar granola bars
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Veggie chips
  • Bean burritos or quesadillas

Pregnancy snack ideas

Here are a few ideas for pregnancy snacks that are ideal choices to tackle hunger pangs.

Sorbet with fresh fruit

A fruit favoured sorbet with fruit toppings is a healthy choice, and you can add the fruits that you like the most. These can be peach, pineapple, pear, grape and bananas, and you can pick the quantity of each fruit as you need. Blend the items and add some water to dilute.

For toppings, you can add some blueberries or cherries along with mint leaves. For those who love a smoothie, the water can be replaced with yoghurt to prepare a thick and creamy delight. Limit the use of sugar and let the natural sugar in the fruit take care of the sweetness.

Caribbean Colada

This is the perfect recipe that is easy to prepare and will remind you about a Caribbean vacation. The main ingredients used are mango slices, banana slices, vanilla flavoured yoghurt, unsweetened coconut milk and unsweetened pineapple juice.

Blend the items by placing all the ingredients in the blender, and your dish is ready. It will have the right levels of calories, protein, vitamins and calcium.

Egg salad

This is a classic food item that is filling as well as nutritious. Eggs also contain Vitamin D and choline, making them the right choice. The two main ingredients needed are two large eggs and two tablespoons of plain yogurt.

Other items include minced red onions, tomatoes, chopped fresh dill, lemon juice, salt and pepper. The first step is to boil the eggs and chop them into pieces. Whisk the yoghurt and lemon juice and add the vegetables. Add the eggs and finish up by adding salt and pepper. Your healthy pregnancy snack is ready, and it can also be refrigerated for future consumption.

Cottage cheese, fruit, and granola

The right combination of these items delivers a healthy dose of calories, protein, calcium and folate. The preparation is simple, and you need to take low-fat cottage cheese and then top it with a cup of diced mango and 2 tablespoons of high-fibre granola.

Note that many varieties of granola have high levels of sugar and hence it is best to pick one with high fibre content and low sugar. The mango will also provide the right level of dietary fibre that is needed.

Melon with lime

With more than 90 percent of water content, watermelon is a fruit that will help you to stay hydrated throughout the day. Watermelon also contains high amounts of potassium, and the drops of lemon will add to the overall flavour. All you need to do is blend the fruit thoroughly, pass it through a fine sieve and chill it. The next step is to relax and enjoy the drink.

Apple, almonds and cheese

This is one of the healthiest and tastiest dishes that you can prepare with triple delights. These three items mixed in the right quantity will deliver the correct balance of crunchy, creamy and smooth flavours. Make sure that you use unsalted almonds. The dish is not only filling but is loaded with the right nutrients that make it a wholesome snack.

Pepper carrot dressing

This creamy dressing is made with raw items that make it crunchy and delicious. The items needed are buttermilk, yoghurt, lemon juice, green pepper, parsley leaves and one carrot. First cut the carrot and pepper into thin slices and keep it aside. Now whisk all the ingredients in a bowl and the dressing is ready to be used as a dip. It also contains some vital nutrients like Vitamin C, calcium and fibre.

Conclusion

Diet is one of the major factors that determine the health of the mother and the child, even from the preconception stage. As per the latest research, the first 100 days starting from conception, in the life of a child is a vital stage that determines the capability to prevent adulthood diseases to a large extent.

While the overall caloric requirements of a healthy woman rise by some amount during pregnancy, it should be approached with a proper diet plan that is in line with the nutritional guidelines. It also helps in the prevention of conditions like miscarriage, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

If needed, supplementation of calcium, magnesium, zinc, multivitamins, and essential fatty acids can be done to ensure the right balance of nutrients. Since obesity can increase pregnancy-related complications, excessive weight gain during pregnancy needs to be avoided by the right choice of pregnancy snacks.

A varied and balanced diet is a good choice for the well-being of the mother and the baby. So while selecting the snacks that you consume, keep in mind that a healthy and wholesome choice is the best choice.

 

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