Smart Snacks When You’re Pregnant: Food Choice Makes A Difference

Ever heard the phrase “you are what you eat?” It’s not too far from the truth! Maintaining a well-balanced diet is always important to your health; proper nutrition is essential for staying energized, keeping our immune system strong to fight diseases, and living a long, healthy life. 

And nutrition is even more important when you’re pregnant. When you’re “eating for two,” it’s important to make sure you’re taking in the right amount of nutrients – more than you needed before pregnancy – so that your baby is able to get enough, too, and develop healthily.

That means snack time is more important than ever during pregnancy – and not just because you’re dealing with some wacky cravings! Below, we’ll go over some general pregnancy nutrition guidelines and help you determine which foods to eat and which to avoid, and even leave you with some healthy snack suggestions that are sure to hit the spot and help you stay nutritious. 

The importance of nutrition during pregnancy

Like we said, making sure you’re eating healthy and providing both you and your developing baby with proper nutrients is one of the most important factors of pregnancy. 

John Hopkins medicine says that to ensure a smooth, healthy pregnancy, you should consume approximately 300 extra calories more than you did before you were pregnant each day. Those extra calories should come from healthy foods like protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. 

The extra calories you consume while pregnant will help lead to the appropriate weight gain that both you and your baby need. Not only that but maintaining a well-balanced diet will even help curb some of those annoying pregnancy symptoms like nausea and constipation. 

It’s also important to make sure you’re getting all the right vitamins and minerals – if not from the food you eat, then from supplements! Of course, regular exercise and proper hydration is always recommended as well. 

The best foods to eat while pregnant

So, you know you need to eat healthily; that’s a no-brainer. But what exactly does that mean? Here are some of the best foods to eat to promote healthy development during your pregnancy:

  • Dairy products – extra calcium and protein is essential! Pack them in with snacks like Greek yogurt and drink 1% milk, skim milk, or even soymilk to boost your calcium, potassium, and vitamin A and D levels. A greek yogurt parfait can be a delicious snack that helps you reach your fruit quota for the day, as well.  
  • Vegetables – Get those greens! Broccoli and leafy vegetables like kale and spinach are perfect for packing a punch in nutrients and vitamins. Fiber, calcium, iron, potassium – you name it, the leafy greens have you covered. Other great vegetable options include carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, tomatoes, and sweet peppers. A great salad can go a long way!
  • Fruits – Fruits are a great source of potassium. Try out melons like cantaloupe and honeydew; mangoes; prunes; bananas; apricots; or citruses like oranges and grapefruit. Berries are also a great source of vitamins and fiber, and snacking on dried fruit can help contribute a lot to your vitamin and mineral intake. Fruit salad, anyone?
  • Whole grains – Get all the fiber you need with whole grains like oats, quinoa, brown rice, and barley. These can also help get you the B vitamins, fiber, and magnesium you need. Try out ready-to-eat or cooked cereals for when you need some grains in a pinch. Overnight oats are one delicious way to go!
  • Lean meat – Protein is essential! Lean beef, chicken, and pork can get you there – and help with iron, too. Try out a tasty chicken salad or experiment with stir fries to get a good mix of meats and veggies.
  • Legumes – Don’t eat meat? That’s okay, there are still tons of ways to get protein, and legumes are some of the best. Lentils, chickpeas, beans, peas… the list of these protein-packed options goes on! They can make some seriously delicious vegan meals. Chickpeas are the central ingredient to hummus, which pairs great with veggies for a perfect snack!

Foods to avoid during pregnancy

You likely know the basics to avoid when you’ve got a bun in the oven: alcohol, raw fish, high amounts of caffeine. But to ensure you have all your bases covered, here’s a list of the foods you should stay away from:

  • Lunch meat and hot dogs 
  • Unpasteurized milk and milk products – these include soft cheeses like feta, queso blanco, and brie (most of the time- if a label says “made with pasteurized milk, you’re in the clear!)
  • Refrigerated smoked seafood
  • High mercury fish like shark, swordfish, and tuna
  • Raw or undercooked fish, eggs, or meat
  • Too much caffeine – stay under 200mg a day!
  • Raw sprouts like alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts – these may be contaminated with salmonella
  • Refrigerated meat spreads 

You’re not expected to lead a perfect, fool-proof lifestyle while you’re pregnant – that includes your diet! However, making healthy choices is the best way to promise the health of you and your baby both during and after your pregnancy. Just remember to pack in the protein and nutrients – next time, just consider switching your bag of chips for a hummus platter. You’ll probably find it’s just as tasty and makes you feel great.