Getting optimal nutrition is always important, but it’s especially important during pregnancy. This is because the nutrients from the foods you eat contribute to your baby’s growth and development.
As your body grows and adjusts, one of the first things you may experience is appetite changes. Food cravings, as well as aversions, are extremely common in pregnancy.
Though the exact cause remains unknown, popular theories for shifts in appetite include hormonal changes, increased nutritional needs, and sensory changes.
In addition to cravings, pregnancy often brings fatigue. Because you’re tired, stocking your pantry with ingredients to prepare easy-to-make, healthful snacks is essential.
This article will provide you with tips for healthy snacking, as well as offering 15 healthy snack ideas for pregnancy to keep you and your developing baby safe, nourished, and happy.
15 Healthy Snack Ideas
During pregnancy, it’s always good to have snacks on hand to keep you satisfied. These good-for-you snacks are both satisfying and packed with nutrients to keep you and your baby nourished.
Sliced Vegetables and Hummus
Not only are raw veggies like carrots and bell peppers crunchy and delicious, but they’re also much lower in fat and sodium than traditional chips. Pair them with hummus for a tasty, nutrient-rich snack.
Yogurt is rich in protein and calcium. It’s also packed with probiotics to promote a healthy digestive system. Pair with fresh berries for an antioxidant-rich, nutritious snack to help you stay satisfied until your next meal.
Rice Cakes With Nut Butter Spread
If you’re experiencing a sweet tooth, spread nut butter on a rice cake for a satisfying, midday snack. You can also serve it with a banana or dark chocolate chips for an extra-sweet sensation.
Cottage Cheese With Berries
With nearly 11 grams of protein per serving, cottage cheese is a nutritious on-the-go snack for pregnancy. It’s also a good source of calcium to keep your teeth and bones strong. Pair it with fresh berries for added flavor and nutrients.
String Cheese and Almonds
Nuts and seeds are always great to have on hand because they require little preparation. They’re also rich in protein, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals to keep you satisfied when a craving strikes. Almonds and other nuts pair nicely with string cheese for a filling on-the-go snack.
Egg on English Muffin
During pregnancy, it’s crucial to get enough vitamin D to maintain proper levels of calcium. Egg yolks contain a high amount of vitamins D, A, E, and K.
Simply scramble an egg and serve it on a toasted English muffin for a convenient, nutritious breakfast meal. Remember to make sure the yolk is cooked thoroughly to destroy any harmful bacteria.
Greek Yogurt and Fruit Parfait
A Greek yogurt parfait with fruit packs protein, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B12 to help your baby grow and develop. The berries also add vitamin C, folate, and manganese.
Greek Yogurt Parfait
- 1 cup of vanilla Greek yogurt
- 1 cup sliced strawberries
- ¾ cup of blueberries
- ½ cup of granola
- ½ medium banana sliced
Layer 1/4 cup of blueberries and 1/2 cup of strawberries, 1/3 cup of yogurt, 1/3 sliced banana, and 2 tablespoons of granola in a large mason jar. Continue to build the parfait by adding two more layers. Eat it immediately or store it in the refrigerator for up to two days.
You can also add additional toppings for flavor and texture, such as chia seeds, vanilla extract, or maple syrup.
If you’re feeling nauseated during pregnancy, foods and drinks containing ginger will help. The American Pregnancy Association recommends anyone experiencing morning sickness eat foods with ginger.
Drinking smoothies during your pregnancy can maximize your nutrition and counteract morning sickness. B vitamins, especially vitamin B6 can help with nausea associated with early pregnancy. It can also support the healthy development of your growing baby.
Be sure to fill your smoothie full of natural sources of B6 like bananas, spinach, walnuts, and avocados.
Healthy Pregnancy Smoothie
- 1 whole banana
- 1/2 ripe avocado
- 1 1/2 cups of spinach
- 1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks
- 5 ice cubes
- 1/2 cup mango chunks
- 1 cup coconut water
- A drizzle of honey for additional sweetness
Simply mix all ingredients together in a blender and enjoy!
Chunks of watermelon make for a thirst-quenching, healthy snack for pregnant women.
Watermelon is primarily made up of water, making it a great way to stay hydrated during your pregnancy.
Its water and natural sugar content can also help those experiencing morning sickness.
Eggs are chock-full of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals necessary to support both you and your baby’s nutrient requirements throughout pregnancy. The egg’s yolk is a great source of choline, which is essential for your baby’s brain development.
Granola bars are an easy, on-the-go snack that requires no refrigeration. They’re packed with whole grains, fiber, and complex carbohydrates to get you through an afternoon slump.
All granola bars aren’t equal. Opt for a bar with less than 10 grams of sugar and at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
Avocados contain large amounts of key nutrients you need during pregnancy, such as folate, healthy fats, and potassium. Pair it with whole-grain toast, and you’ve got yourself a fiber-filled satisfying snack.
To make, mash the avocado in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread on a slice or two of toasted whole-grain bread.
Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are a crunchy, satisfying snack packed with fiber, folate, and protein. They’re a great snack roasted in the oven with your favorite spices.
Roasted Chickpea Recipe
- 1 can of chickpeas
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of your favorite spice
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
Instructions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pat chickpeas dry. Mix all ingredients together and place on a baking sheet. Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until crisp. Let cool for five to 10 minutes before serving.
Bananas are one of the easiest on-the-go pregnancy snacks. They’re high in carbohydrates which can help you maintain energy throughout the day when pregnancy fatigue strikes.
They are also high in potassium, vitamin B6, and fiber.
Foods to Avoid
According to the American Pregnancy Association, most foods are safe to consume while pregnant.
However, there are certain foods to avoid during pregnancy. This is because they have a higher risk of harboring bacteria that can cause illnesses such as listeria, salmonella, or E-coli.
Foods to avoid during pregnancy include:
- Raw or uncooked meat
- Deli meat
- Fish containing mercury (shark, mackerel, and swordfish)
- Smoked seafood (commonly found in the deli section)
- Raw shellfish (oysters, muscles, and clams)
- Raw eggs
- Soft cheeses
- Unpasteurized milk
- Fresh-squeezed juice (unless pasteurized)
- Caffeine (aim for less than 200 milligrams or one 12-ounce cup of coffee per day)
- Unwashed fruits and vegetables
- Foods high in sugar, saturated fat, and sodium
Myth: All Fish Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy
Fish is a low-fat food that contains omega-3 fatty acids, high-quality protein, and other key nutrients to help you thrive during pregnancy. Certain fish that can contain mercury, such as shark, mackerel, and swordfish, should be avoided because they can be harmful to you and your baby.
However, it’s safe to eat less than 12 ounces of low-mercury seafood such as shrimp, catfish, salmon, and canned tuna per week.
What Types of Food Should You Eat During Pregnancy?
To optimize your and your developing baby’s nutrition status, it’s important to eat a well-balanced diet that contains foods from all food groups.
According to the Department of Agriclture’s (USDA) MyPlate Plan guidelines for pregnancy, it’s essential to eat:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- High-quality protein (beans, seafood, legumes, lentils, nuts, and eggs)
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy products
It’s important to wash fruits and vegetables before consuming them to reduce the chance of ingesting “bad” bacteria.
Items to include on your grocery list are:
- Lean poultry
- Greek yogurt
- Whole-wheat bread
- Nut butter
How Much Food Should You Eat During Pregnancy?
Everyone’s nutritional needs will slightly differ throughout pregnancy based on your activity level, age, and anthropometrics (your body size and shape).
As a basic rule of thumb, most people can follow a generally healthy diet without consuming extra calories during their first trimester.
During the second trimester, women should consume around 340 extra calories, and 450 extra calories during the last semester.
A normal-weight pregnant woman should consume around 1,800 calories per day during the first trimester, 2,200 calories per day during the second trimester, and approximately 2,400 calories per day during the last trimester.
Eating the right amount of calories can help you achieve a healthy weight gain throughout pregnancy.
During your first trimester, you should gain between 1.1 and 4.4 pounds. After the first trimester, the amount of weight you should gain each week depends on your weight at the start of your pregnancy.
For example, women who are considered underweight with a body mass index (BMI) of less than 18.5 at the beginning of pregnancy should aim to gain between 1–1.3 pounds per week during the second and third trimesters. This will lead to a total weight gain of 28–40 pounds. Normal weight women with a BMI of 18.5–24.9 should gain 0.8–1 pound per week for a total weight gain of 25–35 pounds.
Overweight women are advised to gain less weight than those who are underweight or within a normal weight range. This is because excess weight gain during pregnancy can increase the risk of chronic disease.
Overweight women with a BMI between 25 and 25.9 should aim to gain between 0.5–0.7 pounds per week after the first trimester for a total weight gain of 15–25 pounds. Women who are classified as obese with a BMI over 30 should aim to gain 0.4–0.6 pounds per week for a total pregnancy weight gain of 11–20 pounds.
Tips for Eating During Pregnancy
Making smart food choices is important to help you and your baby obtain optimal nutrition for healthy growth and development. Here are a few tips to get you started:
How to Manage Nausea
The feelings of constant nausea can often overshadow the exciting feeling when you first find out that you’re expecting. Though there’s no way to completely eliminate nausea throughout pregnancy, there are some tips to help manage pregnancy-associated nausea.
Tips for Managing Nausea in Pregnancy
- Eat small, frequent meals.
- Steer clear of trigger foods.
- Avoid spicy foods.
- Consume foods rich in vitamin B6.
- Try ginger (ginger chews, tea, or ginger ale).
- Snack on saltine crackers.
- Change to gummy prenatal vitamins if the pills cause discomfort.
- Get adequate rest.
Eat Enough High-Quality Foods
Pregnant women need additional folic acid, iron, zinc, calcium, and vitamin D.
To ensure that you and your baby are adequately nourished, strive for the recommended daily calories and servings from each food group per day.
You can visit MyPlate Plan, which will provide you with detailed nutrient analysis, including an estimate of the number of nutrients and calories needed to promote a healthy weight gain.
Take a Prenatal Vitamin Every Day
During pregnancy, you will need folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, choline, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, and B vitamins. A high-quality prenatal vitamin will include all of these nutrients to keep your developing baby healthy.
To ensure your and your baby’s nutrients are met, take your prenatal vitamin every day.
Pregnancy can be a rewarding, exciting journey. At the same time, it can be overwhelming. Growing a baby takes a toll on a woman’s body. During pregnancy, your body requires larger amounts of certain nutrients, including folic acid, protein, iodine, iron, and calcium.
In addition, pregnancy causes fatigue, making it difficult to plan and prepare nutritious, healthy meals each day. Focusing on eating healthy and incorporating easy-to-make, simple snacks can help you meet your nutritional needs and ensure your baby will grow and develop normally.
A Word From Verywell
During pregnancy, it can be scary not knowing if you’re eating enough of the right nutrients to help your developing baby grow and thrive. It’s important to prioritize nutrition during pregnancy, but give yourself grace. It’s usually fine to occasionally give in to the foods you crave.
Be sure to regularly follow up with your healthcare provider, who will closely monitor you and your baby’s health throughout your pregnancy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it OK to skip breakfast while pregnant?
You should aim for a healthy, balanced breakfast each morning. Skipping meals, including breakfast, can lead to suboptimal nutrient intake.
How much protein should pregnant women eat?
During pregnancy, a woman should aim for no less than 60 grams of protein per day. This translates into 20%–25% of your total calories.
Can you eat yogurt while pregnant?
Yes. Yogurt consumption is encouraged because it’s a good source of protein and calcium and can help you meet your increased needs during pregnancy.