Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Snacking for a Healthy Pregnancy

Important steps to a healthy pregnancy include eating a balanced diet; gaining the right amount of weight; enjoying regular physical activity; taking a vitamin and mineral supplement if recommended by a physician; and avoiding alcohol, tobacco and other harmful substances.

I have no doubt you've heard the expression "eating for two" -- but pregnancy is not a free pass to unlimited snacks of cookies and chips.  Since your body is hard at work supporting both you and baby, healthy snacks can give you the extra calories you need and curb your cravings while still honoring the important responsibility you now have for the health and well-being of two, without doubling the amount you eat!

How Much More Should You Eat?

In the first trimester, it is not necessary for pregnant women to increase their calories.  However, a caloric increase of 350 calories in the second trimester and another increase to an additional 450 calories in the last trimester is vital for a healthy pregnancy.

The extra calories you add to your diet during pregnancy should be well chosen, including high-fiber, nutrient-dense foods to make up the majority of your daily caloric intake. Pregnancy is a time to be especially mindful of your portion size, sodium, saturated fat intake. Excess weight gain from too many calories can increase your risk for gestational diabetes and high blood pressure, putting both you and your baby's health at risk.

In the second and third trimesters, it doesn't take much food to quickly add the 350-450 daily calories to your diet -- a simple snack in the afternoon or evening can add just the right amount of extra nutrition. For an easy grab-and-go guide, here’s a list of snack options rich in calcium, protein, whole grains, fiber and phytonutrients from fruits and vegetables. Plus, not to mention, a few healthy indulgences to satisfy your cravings without adding extra fat or calories.

Start practicing now to be a great role model to your child as you snack your way to a healthy pregnancy!

Pregnancy Snack Guide for Your Second and Third Trimester:

Craving Sweet?
•    1 cup low-fat chocolate milk with a large banana
•    1 cup low-fat Greek vanilla yogurt with 1 cup fresh peaches sprinkled with 2 tablespoons granola cereal
•    1 cup fat-free skim milk blended with 1 cup frozen mixed berries and 3/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt
•    1 cup low fat cottage cheese and 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks

Craving Crunchy?
•    1 cup carrot strips with 4 tablespoons hummus and 8 whole grain crackers (such as Triscuit)
•    4 graham cracker squares spread with 2 tablespoons peanut butter.
•    8 whole grain crackers (such as TLC) with 2 oz low-fat Swiss cheese and one cup red pepper strips
•    Trail mix combining 23 almonds, 1 mini box of raisins, and 3/4 cup whole grain cereal

Amber Massey RD, LD, Registered Dietitian
Executive Health Program
Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth

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