Eating a healthy diet is important all of the time, but even more so when you’re pregnant. As tempting as it is to reach for a bag of crisps, knowing which are the best foods to snack on while pregnant is a must.
Ensuring your snacks are healthy and nutritious will have an impact on both your baby and your body. That's why our experts have taken a look at the best foods to snack on during pregnancy.
Snacks are vital during pregnancy
Many women report increased appetite during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. Other women may feel so queasy throughout their pregnancy that eating is a struggle.
Doctors advise that women with morning sickness, dizziness, and other pregnancy symptoms should eat ‘little and often’. This means snacking on small portions throughout the day, instead of three large meals.
Even if you’re not suffering from sickness, snacks are a great option at any time during pregnancy. Not only are they delicious, but they're the best way to make sure you include all the nutrients vital for your baby's growth.
How much is too much?
So how do you choose which foods to snack on while pregnant? There's an increased nutritional requirement during pregnancy, but sadly, the NHS states that there’s no need to eat for two, In fact you only need an extra 300 calories a day, so choosing the right snacks is important.
The ideal snack size is around 200 calories and should include a healthy balance of all the food groups.
What to avoid?
The most important thing to avoid is dieting. Diets are best saved for after pregnancy and if you’re breast feeding, after that.
Instead, try to make sure that all snacks and meals include a variety of food types. Protein, carbohydrates and fibre are particularly important. Some foods are best avoided though, like processed meat or raw fish, and it’s important to ensure uncooked eggs come from chickens vaccinated against salmonella.
So what are the best foods to snack on while pregnant? Take a look at our expert recommendations.
The best foods to snack on while pregnant:
Start with a salad
Salad vegetables include greens like cucumber, raw spinach and lettuce. Some might even include more colourful options like carrot or bell peppers. These veggies are full of vitamin C and fibre and contain little in the way of sugar.
Pepper, carrot and cucumber sticks are another great snack. Eating them throughout the day is an ideal way to get your five a day. They're also packed with vitamins to help boost your baby's growth.
Pair your favourite veggie sticks with a home-made hummus for an easy way to include chickpeas in your diet. Chickpeas are a superfood packed with important nutrients, like folate, iron and protein.
Splash out on dairy
Dairy is incredibly important both during and after pregnancy. Calcium stores are in constant use to develop your baby’s bones, and it is important that your own body doesn’t miss out.
Only pasteurised or UHT milk is safe during pregnancy. Avoid high-sugar milkshakes - no matter how tempting they are! Instead, try whizzing up your own with some fresh soft fruits like strawberries and bananas.
Yoghurts make a quick and easy snack and cheese is a great food to munch on too. Avoid soft cheeses with white rinds or soft blue-veined cheeses, but hard cheese with biscuits make a delicious, healthy snack.
Squeeze in some apricots
Apricots, prunes, figs and plums are all recommended during pregnancy as they're high in iron, vitamins and healthy sugars.
They can also help with the less dignified symptoms experienced during pregnancy. Prunes and plums, in particular, are a great all-natural way to aid constipation and indigestion. They're recommended before trying over-the-counter medicines.
Try eating a plum a day, and if your symptoms continue for more than a week, seek medical advice from a doctor or pharmacist.
Fill up with porridge
Deal with increased appetite and cravings by filling up on long-lasting snacks like porridge, potato and cereal.
Carbohydrates are also thought to line your stomach and are sometimes used to help with morning sickness. Keep porridge oats on hand for an easy microwavable snack at any time of the day or night, or stick a small jacket potato in the oven for a simple treat to munch on if you’re feeling hungry.
Keep it simple with soup
Soup is a great comfort food. If you've had a long, achy, tiring day, soup is like a hug in a bowl.
Prepare nutritious soups beforehand and warm up throughout the week for a simple and easy snack. Try adding chickpeas and beans as these are full of protein and fibre. Also include roasted carrot or bright peppers as these are a brilliant way to add vitamin C.
If possible, try to avoid tinned soup. Processed soups are usually packed with sodium and other preservatives. Instead, opt for something homemade or fresh.
Boost your energy with dried fruit
Many dried fruits are higher in iron than their fresh counterparts. Try adding a handful of raisins or apricots to your five a day to ensure you get the iron that’s so important to your baby. Try not to overdo it though, as dried fruit is high in sugar and particularly bad for your teeth.
Regular visits to your dentist are also essential, as pregnancy can lead to dental problems such as gum disease or tooth decay. This is often because hormones present during pregnancy affect your body’s response to plaque, so make sure you keep up your dental hygiene and those visits to your local dentist.
Build your body
Pregnancy is a hard time for your body. It's working hard to keep both you and your baby healthy. Although it might be tempting, try to avoid eating sugary and salty snacks.
Instead, choose healthy fruit and veg for snacks, and base your meals around wholegrain, starchy foods wherever possible.
Eating wholegrain carbohydrates and small, but frequent, meals will keep you feeling full for longer. And lastly, keeping healthy alternatives on hand will mean you are less tempted by a sugary quick fix.
A healthy diet is the best way to keep your body supple and healthy during pregnancy. Neglecting the best foods to snack on while pregnant can have consequences for both you and your baby.
Good nutrition during pregnancy will promote healthy growth in your baby and is linked to lower rates of diabetes. It’s also important for keeping your joints strong and your skin supple.
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