Healthy pregnancy snacks for moms-to-be

You can satisfy your hunger and still be healthy in the pregnancy snacks department. Here are some great options for boosting your calcium, iron, omega-3s and fibre and easing your morning sickness.

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Pregnant and feeling starved all of the time? Don’t be surprised. After all, your body is growing a baby inside, and that requires lots of nourishment. In the second trimester, your energy needs increase by about 300 calories a day and then jump to 500 more calories a day in the third trimester. Translation: You need to eat more at meals and add nutritious snacks in between.

Some people hear “snack” and think of chocolate bars, chips and pastries, but those are actually treats. While there’s always room for a sweet or salty goody, you’ll want most of your snacks to be mini-meals made up of nourishing foods, such as vegetables with hummus or a handful of nuts. These foods provide nutrients like calcium, fibre and protein that your body requires during pregnancy.

As you know by now, every pregnancy is different. That means the snacks you crave—and that your body needs—will vary greatly. Here are some snack ideas that meet many different pregnancy needs.

High-calcium snacks

This essential mineral is important for building and maintaining healthy bones and teeth, as well as ensuring proper muscle function. Dairy foods are a good source of calcium, but they’re certainly not the only source. You might be surprised to learn what other foods are high sources of calcium. You can try:

  • Coffee or tea latte (yes, a bit of caffeine is fine during pregnancy) made with milk or a fortified plant-based beverage, such as soy or almond milk
  • Canned salmon on crackers (choose salmon canned with bones—it’s those soft little bones that provide the calcium!)
  • Toast with almond butter or tahini
  • Yogurt with berries
  • Whole grain cereal with milk or a fortified plant-based beverage
  • Kale salad with asiago or Parmesan
  • Cheese
  • Trail mix with figs, almonds and sesame seeds
  • Oranges

Snacks to help with morning sickness

A pregnant woman dunking a teabag in a mug How to manage pregnancy heartburn (including which foods to avoid)Snacks can help keep your blood sugar levels stable and keep nausea at bay. Interesting fact: Pregnancy-related nausea is most common on an empty stomach, so always keep snacks handy. Cold foods tend to be better tolerated than warm foods, and ginger is scientifically known to help ease nausea. Try:

  • Plain dry crackers (whole grain are the most nutritious, but opt for what you tolerate best)
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Ginger snaps  
  • Plain baked potato
  • Peppermint, ginger or lemon water
  • Fresh cold fruit
  • Yogurt

Pump up your iron intake

Getting enough iron can reduce the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight. Meat and poultry are rich in iron. Try:

  • Leftover chicken drumsticks
  • Low-sodium beef jerky
  • Meat-based energy bars (yep, it’s a thing), such as Epic, Tanka and Meatbar

Looking for plant-based options? Boost absorption by pairing iron-rich foods with a source of vitamin C. Try:

  • Spinach salad with strawberries
  • Almond butter on apple slices
  • Hummus with red pepper sticks
  • Hard-boiled egg with sliced tomato
  • Iron-fortified cereal with raspberries
  • Oatmeal with blueberries

Omega-3 snacks for pregnancy

The omega-3 fat called DHA is vital for proper development of the baby’s brain, eyes and nerves. Fatty fish is your best source of DHA. Try:

  • Half of a salmon sandwich
  • Skipjack (low mercury) tuna lettuce wraps
  • Sardines with capers and lemon
  • Mackerel and mayo mashed on toast
  • Shrimp sushi (cooked)
  • Hard-boiled omega-3 eggs

You can also choose plant-based sources of omega-3 fat. They contain some ALA omega 3 fat, and the body is able to convert a little bit of it (maybe five to 10 percent) to DHA. Try:

  • Walnuts
  • Flaxseed
  • Soy nuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Hemp seeds

Fibre-rich snacks to ease constipation

Ahem, another “perk” of pregnancy is a slow gut, and constipation is common. Along with increasing your water intake, try munching on these high-fibre snacks to help ease constipation naturally.

  • Crispy roasted chickpeas or lentils
  • Edamame
  • Anything with prunes
  • Fruit salad with pear, apple, kiwi fruit and raspberries
  • Oatmeal with flaxseed
  • Chia pudding or chia oatmeal
  • Popcorn
  • Veggies and dip

Grab-and-go snack options

Sometimes convenience is paramount. Choose snacks that are nutritious, handy and non-perishable and keep them in your purse, desk drawer or car. Try:

  • Trail mix
  • Bean chips (such as Snapea Crisps, Beanitos and PopCorners)
  • Nut and seed bars
  • Cheese crisps (such as Moon Cheese and Whisps)
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Roasted chickpeas (such as The Good Bean and Three Farmers)
  • Granola bars

Registered dietitian Cara Rosenbloom runs Words to Eat By, a nutrition communications company in Toronto. She is a writer, cookbook author and mom of two. Her go-to pregnancy snack was almond butter slathered on a banana.

Read more:
9 recipes to tackle those pregnancy cravings
6 weird pregnancy symptoms that are actually totally normal

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