Keeping up with a growing belly or feeding a new baby takes a lot of work, nutrients and energy. Your body needs extra calories, healthy fats, protein and carbohydrates to keep up with the demand, which is why handy healthy snacks are so important.
Sure, it would be wonderful to have a personal chef follow you around all day holding out delicious healthy morsels of food every time you needed it, but let’s be real. For most of us, foraging for food is still a day–to-day activity.
Nowadays that often means scouring the local bodega for something that appears healthy – "look it says whole grains right on the package" - or hitting a quick service restaurant for something, anything, that contains a “green.”
Honestly, it’s hard enough to get out the door in the morning in one piece, let alone remembering to pack a lunch or grab a healthy treat. The result: grab-on-the-go snacks that only temporarily satisfy your hunger, leaving you feeling lethargic and oftentimes falling short of the nutrients you need most.
So if you can't get your hands on momme meals' Go Chews, here are five portable, healthy, whole food options that are excellent for pregnant and nursing moms.
Top 5 Healthy Whole Food Snacks for Pregnant & Nursing Moms
Fresh Fruit: Fruits contain natural sugars and carbohydrates which are a great way to boost your energy. Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on your counter top or kitchen table and just throw a few in your bag as you head out the door. I am a huge fan of the portable kind but if you just love pineapple, mangos and kiwi, just wash and cut them as soon as you get home from the market, divide them into small snack size containers and place in the fridge. On your way out the door just grab and go. Some of my favorites for energy are bananas (27g carbohydrates + potassium), apples (25g carbohydrates + fiber) and oranges (18g carbohydrates + vitamin c).
Dried Fruit: If you have a sweet tooth, dried fruits are the perfect snack solution. Not all are created equal, so be sure to buy those that are free of sulfides (added to maintain fruit color) and have no added sugars. Apricots are at the top on my list because of their high fiber content which can help relieve constipation. They also contain more potassium then a banana, a nutrient that can help with pesky leg cramps and are an lactogenic food, meaning they help stimulate milk supply. If apricots are not your thing, try figs which are loaded with folate or mangos which aid in the digestion of proteins.
Avocado: Yes, it’s a fruit but I think avocados deserve to stand alone. There are just so many reasons to love this rich and creamy fruit. It’s brimming with folate which is vital to forming your baby’s brain and nervous system. Avocados are also rich in Vitamin B6 which supports your baby’s tissue and brain growth and also helps with morning sickness. Put them in a plastic container if you take them to go so they don’t bruise as easily. When you're ready for a snack just cut them in half and eat it with a spoon. What’s not to love about a fruit that comes in its own cup?
Mixed Nuts & Seeds: These mini nibbles are loaded with Vitamin E and minerals like copper, manganese, magnesium, selenium, zinc and potassium. Your best bet is to choose dry roasted versions without any added salt. Put them in little plastic baggies and place them in your purse, in the glove box of your car, in the desk at your office or next to the chair where you most frequently breastfeed so you always have a quick snack on-hand. Almonds are going to have your highest content of fiber and Vitamin E, which helps boost your immune system and can alleviate fatigue. Pistachios are also a great choice as these nuts are the highest in Vitamin A & Beta Carotene, important in your baby’s embryonic growth and Potassium which helps maintain a good fluid balance in your cells. If you're going the seed route, look to sunflowers seeds as a source of healthy fats, folate, B-vitamins, and magnesium for bone health. Pumpkin seeds are also an excellent option as they are the most alkaline-forming seed (which helps manage your body's pH) and are loaded with zinc - a nutrient essential in the production, repair and functioning of DNA.
Note: Common food allergens are sometimes avoided by moms during the first three months of breastfeeding. If so, substitute seeds for nuts.
Note: If you're nursing think about carrying around some sesame seeds to add to soups or salads. While their small size makes them an odd "snack," these little guys are great for helping simulate milk production and can be added to just about anything for bit of breastfeeding support and a kick of flavor.
Hard Boiled Eggs: Eggs are an excellent source of cholesterol, fatty acids (Omega 3’s & Omega 6’s), protein, iron, calcium and Vitamins A, D E, and K, all essential nutrients while you’re pregnant and nursing. Make a batch of hard boiled eggs and have them on hand throughout the week.
Tip: Try cooking them in the oven. Using a mini muffin pan or a sheet plan, place eggs in a preheated oven at 350 for 25 minutes. Remove them from the oven and immediately place in an ice bath. The shells will peel off with ease and are ready for you to enjoy at a moment’s notice.
Remember when it comes to snacking accessibility is key. Store snacks in small containers or bags and place them in a location that makes sense for you. Enjoy!