Apples, Peanut Butter, and Crackers
For pregnant women, the best snacks -- like this one -- combine things from at least two food groups.
With protein, fiber, and healthy fats, you'll stay full between meals. Spread 1 or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter onto sliced apples and whole-grain crackers. Choose natural instead of regular peanut butter, which has unhealthy hydrogenated oil. Try different combos of nut butter (almond, cashew) and fruit (pears, bananas), too.
Tortilla Chips With Guacamole
For a crunch craving, choose whole-grain, higher-fiber tortilla chips. Dip them in guacamole, which is high in folate, a B vitamin that helps prevent birth defects. (It also contains heart-healthy fats.) If you don't love avocados, protein-rich bean dip is a good option. Baked chips are better for you than fried.
Yogurt With Nuts and Fruit
Aim for three servings of low-fat dairy every day, so you and your baby get enough calcium for strong bones and teeth. Greek yogurt has more protein than regular yogurt, and it may be more filling. Plain yogurt has less sugar than flavored, but both are healthy. Sprinkle on 1 to 2 tablespoons of nuts for protein and fiber. Top with fruit, like berries, diced peaches in 100% fruit juice, or raisins.
Chocolate and Fruit
NEED chocolate? Good news: It may lower your risk of preeclampsia, a condition that can cause high blood pressure and organ damage for some pregnant women. Pair a small fun-size bar with fruit, or opt for chocolate-covered fruit, to keep your snack from getting too sweet. Chocolate pudding made with low-fat milk will boost your dairy intake and help build your baby's bones. Chocolate yogurt also has bacteria to help your gut.
Love sweet and savory snacks? Try trail mix. The best mixes for you and your baby have salt-free nuts, sugar-free dried fruit, and dark (not milk) chocolate. Nuts and dried fruit both contain fiber, which may help if you're constipated. Heart-healthy dark chocolate has less sugar and more fiber, iron, and other minerals. Make your own mix at home or buy a ready-made one. Some are sold in single-serve packs, which are easy to carry with you.
Half a Tuna Sandwich
New rules say it's OK for pregnant women to eat two to three servings of fish per week. Protein-rich light tuna, lower in mercury, is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and DHA, which help your baby's brain develop. For added fiber and healthy fat, pair it with avocado on whole wheat. If you're on the go, bring a vacuum-sealed single-serve pouch of tuna and a bag of whole-grain crackers to make a fresh snack anywhere
Start with yogurt or milk as a base for one of your daily servings of dairy. Fruit juice has too many empty calories. Then add bananas or berries. (Use frozen ones to make your smoothie thicker.) If you toss in fresh spinach or celery, you won't even taste it, and you'll add extra vitamins and fiber. A scoop of peanut butter gives you protein. Cocoa powder can make it chocolaty without getting too sweet.
Hummus With Veggies and Pita Chips
This well-rounded snack is a fiber-rich powerhouse that will help keep you regular. It's quick to throw together, thanks to your supermarket. The produce section has pre-sliced carrots, celery, and peppers. The refrigerator aisle has single-serve packs of protein-rich hummus. The bakery section has fresh pita, or you can look for pita chips in the snack aisle if you prefer a crunch. Choose whole wheat pita for more fiber.
Cheese and Nut Plate
When you need a power-packed snack, reach for the protein-rich combo of nuts and hard cheese, like cheddar, Edam, gouda, Parmesan, or Swiss. (Some soft cheeses may have listeria, a bacteria than can harm your baby.) Nuts have fiber, and cheese provides calcium. Add whole-grain crackers if you like. For travel, grab a single-serve pack of almonds and a wrapped mozzarella stick.
Protein Bar and Fruit
Keep healthy snacks in your purse, desk drawer, and car so you can eat whenever hunger pangs set in. Protein and energy bars store well, and they're more nutritious than granola bars. Most have fiber, protein, and healthy fats without a lot of sugar. Single-serve cups of canned peaches or pears are sweet and fiber-rich, and they'll be ready when you are. Make sure they're packed with 100% juice, not syrup.
Popcorn and Nuts
A high-fiber snack can help the constipation some women get from prenatal vitamins. Pop yourself a single-serve bag of fiber-rich popcorn at home or at work. (Skip the added salt and butter.) Pair the airy treat with a handful of salt-free peanuts, and you've got a healthy mini-meal. Use chocolate-covered peanuts to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Ants on a Log
This childhood favorite can help you stay full of energy. To make them, stuff natural peanut butter into fiber-rich celery ribs, then line up high-fiber raisins along the top. Almond butter and sunflower seed butter work well, too. If you need more dairy in your diet, use low-fat cream cheese.
IMAGES PROVIDED BY:
- Getty / Flickr
- Sharon T. Phelan, MD, FACOG, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
- Maryann Jacobsen, MS, RD; coauthor, Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School.
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: "Folate."
- National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: "Preeclampsia research at the NICHD."
- American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists: "Nutrition During Pregnancy."
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "Fish: What Pregnant Women and Parents Should Know."
- Prevention: "Health Food Face-Off: Dark Chocolate vs Milk Chocolate."
- CDC: "Listeriosis (listeria) and pregnancy."