As your pregnancy progresses, you’ll likely find yourself dealing with nausea, hunger pangs, and odd cravings. You’re probably tired and busier than ever, and you may have certain food aversions that make meal planning difficult.
One simple solution is to have healthy, quick snacks on hand to keep you satisfied in between meals. Doctors recommend eating at least every two to four hours, if possible. Some pregnant women find it difficult to get anything down, but it’s important to try to fuel your body as much as you can.
How Many Extra Calories Does a Pregnant Woman Need?
It’s common to hear people say that when you’re pregnant, you’re eating for two. While it’s true that you’re also nourishing another person, you don’t need to eat double your normal calories. Typically, you won’t need to consume additional calories in the first trimester, and in the second and third trimesters, you’ll only need about 300 more calories per day.
However, every woman and pregnancy is different, so talk to your health care provider about your specific nutritional needs. Most importantly, listen to your body, fuel yourself with healthy foods, and eat when you’re hungry.
What Makes a Good Pregnancy Snack?
For the most part, you’ll want to look for nutrient-dense snacks with a good balance of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Pregnancy comes with some unpleasant side effects, like morning sickness, food aversions, bloating, constipation, heartburn, and so on, so your food choices should take into account how you’re feeling.
For instance, if you’re struggling with constipation, you’ll want to eat high-fiber foods, while keeping in mind that too much fiber can actually have the opposite effect. If you’re nauseous, reach for foods that are easy to digest and don’t have strong tastes or smells. Healthy snacks will nourish your body and help you remain fuller longer too.
Below are some snack ideas that are quick, healthy, and sure to satisfy your cravings. Put your own spin on these snacks or substitute other nutrient-dense foods, and you and your baby will be feeling strong and healthy!
1. Apple Slices and Nut Butter
Wash and cut your apple, then top each slice with a dab of peanut butter. Since conventional peanut butter often contains added sugar and hydrogenated oils, try choosing an all-natural peanut butter that’s composed of just two ingredients: peanuts and salt. You can also try cashew, sunflower, and almond butter for variety.
2. Hummus with Carrots, Celery, and Bell Peppers
Dip washed and cut carrots, celery stalks, and bell peppers into hummus. It’s an almost-effortless snack that’s healthy, nutritious, and delicious. Plus, you can save some money by making your own hummus! Add black beans, sundried tomatoes, or red peppers to mix it up.
3. Fresh Cut or Roasted Veggies
Keep a tray of prepared fresh veggies in your fridge so you can grab a handful when you’re hungry. Many people find roasted vegetables are their go-to for getting their greens. Simply place washed vegetables like broccoli, sweet potatoes, or green beans on a cooking sheet, coat with olive oil and your choice of seasoning, and roast in the oven.
4. Whole-Grain Cereal, Fresh Fruit, and Milk
Cereal is a great snack throughout the day, not just for breakfast. Choose a cereal with whole grains to get your complex carbohydrates, and add fruit and milk for protein and extra vitamins. For a different spin, try yogurt instead of milk or granola instead of cereal.
5. Toast, Nut Butter, Coconut Chips, and Maple Syrup
Ezekiel bread has increased vitamins, is easy to digest, and is a good source of protein. Try adding some nut butter, coconut chips, and maple syrup for a unique flavor combination.
6. Rice Cakes
Rice cakes are easy snacks that can help settle an upset stomach. Try adding sliced bananas on top for extra potassium, fiber, and vitamin B6. Bananas can also help relieve heartburn.
7. Air-Popped Popcorn
Making your own popcorn is inexpensive and quick, and popcorn is a healthy treat that’s high in fiber. Simply use an air popper or place kernels in a paper bag in the microwave. You can add a small amount of butter and salt for extra flavor.
8. Grapes and Berries
Have a bowl of washed grapes and berries handy for easy snacking throughout the day. Try them frozen for a super refreshing treat!
9. Tortilla Chips, Guacamole, and Salsa
If you’re craving Mexican food, you can satisfy your taste buds with some tortilla chips, guacamole, and salsa. For a simple “guacamole,” mash up a ripe avocado, and add salsa, a splash of lime juice, and a sprinkle of sea salt. Avocados are rich in healthy fats, potassium, vitamin K, and folate.
10. String Cheese or Babybel Cheese and Crackers
One of the keys to healthy snacking is convenience. String cheese is fun to eat right out of the package. Babybel cheese is low-fat and comes in small wheels that are easy to eat on the go. Try cheese and crackers together for a no-fail, satisfying combination.
Crackers are easy on the stomach if you’re experiencing nausea, and cheese can add some grams of protein. Look for crackers that are made from whole grains, and make sure the cheese you're using is safe during pregnancy (some soft cheeses aren't).
11. Cottage Cheese and Pineapple
The ingredients in cottage cheese support immunity and bone health. If you don't love the lumpy texture, buy whipped cottage cheese—it features all the health benefits with a smooth texture that’s closer to a mousse or cream cheese. Top with fresh pineapple chunks to add flavor, sweetness, and fiber.
12. Yogurt Parfait with Fruit and Granola
Greek yogurt packs a big punch. It’s high in protein and low in calories, and its natural probiotics can help aid digestion. Add a handful of granola (about one-quarter cup) for an extra crunch. Granola comes in a variety of flavors like yummy vanilla almond, as well as gluten-free and vegan options.
Sprinkle with fresh berries if desired. For a twist on a yogurt parfait, try mixing in maple syrup, sliced almonds, and fruit. The added nuts will boost your protein intake.
13. Baked Cucumber Chips
For a unique and savory snack, try making some cucumber chips to keep on hand. These take some time to bake; be sure to make them ahead of time so you have snacks when you need them. Simply slice cucumbers thinly, toss with spices, and bake in the oven.
Cucumbers contain potassium and vitamin K and can help lower blood pressure. Not quite potato chips, but delicious!
14. Whole Fruit Smoothies (add leafy greens for extra nutrients!)
Throw some frozen strawberries, a banana, blueberries, a handful of spinach, and some yogurt, cashew milk, or almond milk into the blender to make a delicious smoothie that’s both filling and nutritious! You can add whatever fruit appeals to you, and it’s a great way to get your greens without even tasting them!
15. Protein Bars or Homemade Energy Balls
Grab your favorite protein bar for an easy, on-the-go snack or try making homemade energy balls. Simply mix together oatmeal, peanut butter, honey, chocolate chips, and flaxseed. You can even add dried fruit. Roll into balls and refrigerate.
16. Hard-Boiled Eggs
The secret to easy-to-peel eggs is dropping the uncooked eggs into boiling water, turning off the heat, and cooling them after ten minutes. Eat the eggs with some whole-grain crackers for a yummy, satiating treat.
17. Homemade Banana Muffins
(Bonus: Make a big batch and freeze them!)
If you’ve got some ripe bananas on hand, pull out your favorite recipe for banana muffins. If you’re short an ingredient or two, simply google different recipes; there are many different versions out there. If you’re looking for an extra-sweet treat, add some dark chocolate!
18. Homemade Larabars
Try your hand at making your own Larabars. You can blend dates and nuts with other simple ingredients to make these tasty, healthy bars. There are tons of variations you can try! You could also use some of those same ingredients to make your own healthy trail mix.
19. Oatmeal and Blueberries
Oatmeal is high in fiber, easy on the stomach, and keeps you fuller longer. It’s also known to lower cholesterol. Blueberries are a great source of antioxidants and can help relieve constipation too.
For something different, try a simple oatmeal blueberry bake. Make a pan at the beginning of the week and you’ll have several days of breakfasts or snacks.
20. Chia Pudding
Chia pudding is a healthy treat that makes a great snack or dessert. Chia seeds are high in fiber, iron, calcium for strong bones and teeth, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Try one of the many recipes out there, including ones with fruit, vanilla, cashews, and cinnamon.
How Much Water Should a Pregnant Woman Drink?
When it feels like you’re running to the bathroom every three minutes, you may find yourself wanting to avoid beverages, but water is a must for staying healthy throughout your pregnancy. Water carries nutrients to your growing baby and can also prevent urinary tract infections, constipation, and swelling.
Aim to get at least 6–8 servings of 8 ounces of water per day. Carry a water bottle with you so you always have water on hand. Pregnancy makes many women thirstier, so you’ll be glad you’re prepared!
If you don’t love the taste of water, try fruit-infused water; add lemon, strawberries, pineapple, or berries. You can also add cucumbers for a fresh taste. Limit sodas and coffee, which can dehydrate you.
Fruit juices can help contribute to your daily water intake, but they contain a lot of sugar, so drink in moderation. Some herbal teas are safe during pregnancy, but make sure to check with your health care team first.
Be Creative and Try New Snacks!
Finding healthy, appealing snacks during pregnancy can be difficult, but remember that there are lots of options out there! Be creative and combine different foods, ask friends for recipes, and don’t be afraid to try something new. Find what works for you and makes you feel good during your pregnancy.
Do you have a favorite go-to pregnancy snack? Share it in the comments below!