Whether you’re actively TTC or aren’t even considering parenthood, there’s no time like the present to make healthy snacking a part of your life, and during pregnancy, there are even more good reasons to do so.
Healthy snack alternatives to help with fertility
Whether your getting ready to eat for two, or eating just for you, you’ll want to keep your snacking healthy and part of a regular nutritious diet. But, of course, sometimes it’s easier to reach for something that’s a little less than healthy. Having healthy snack alternatives in mind to swap in can help you satisfy your not-so-healthy cravings while giving you a fertility boost.
When you’re craving something savory, try:
- Popcorn: Certainly if it’s covered in butter and salt, the nutrition can be questionable, but popcorn can actually be very healthy! Popcorn is a whole grain that provides a wealth of fiber, which helps to increase fullness, reduce blood sugar spikes, decrease constipation, and improve digestive health and mobility. It also includes a ton of vitamins and minerals – like various B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and manganese – and polyphenol antioxidants. And you can spring for healthy toppings like a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt, herbs, or grated parmesan cheese.
- Nuts: These snack all-stars provide fiber, protein, and a ton of healthy, unsaturated fats – including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids – which are an important source of energy, help you metabolize a number of important vitamins, and can help lower cholesterol.
- Whole wheat pretzels with flax: The complex carbs found in whole grains provide not only fiber, but also long lasting energy. Whole grains can also provide nutrients like the antioxidant vitamin E and the mineral selenium. And the addition of flax can provides good unsaturated fat.
- Baked sweet potato fries: These might take some prep, but sweet potatoes are more than tasty – they also provide fiber, folate, vitamin-C, and beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body.
- Whole grain toast with hummus, plain Greek yogurt, nut butter, or avocado: Again, there are lots of goodies to be found in those whole grains, and all of these creamy options you can spread on top provide even more of a nutritional boost. The garbanzo beans in the hummus, much like other all beans, provide you with protein, which helps provide amino acids, fiber, and a number of other nutrients, like large amounts of folate (B9), iron, calcium, and zinc. The yogurt provides calcium, phosphorus, various B-vitamins, magnesium, and zinc. It also provides probiotic bacteria, which supports digestive health. Nut butters have all the health benefits of nuts, and the avocado contains unsaturated fats, folate, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin B6.
- Hard boiled eggs: Eggs are a powerhouse, providing you with protein, healthy fats and amino acids, and vitamins and minerals like choline, potassium, magnesium. Eaten with a pinch of salt, herbs, or hot sauce, they’re a tasty snack option any time of day.
- Edamame: Soy beans provide all the goodies mentioned when talking about hummus, as well as a ton of antioxidants, and vitamins C and A.
- Hummus or guacamole with vegetables or whole grain crackers: Again, you’ve already heard about the wonders of hummus, guac, and whole grains, but veggies are real stars, too. They provide not just great flavor and satisfying crunch, but a wealth of vitamins and minerals. Aim for a variety of color – green, red, orange, yellow, and purple!
- Cheese: Is packed with calcium, protein, and vitamin D. (Just skip soft, unpasteurized cheese because of the risk of Listeria if you’re TTC.)
All of these options will help you bypass the large amount of trans fats and high amounts of sodium that can be found in chips and dip.
When you’re craving sweets, try:
- Fresh fruit: From bananas and apples to cherries and grapes, fruit provides fiber along with vitamins and minerals like folate, vitamin C, potassium, and beta carotene.
- Dried fruit: These provide all the same nutrients as the fresh stuff, but sometimes can travel more easily. Mango, apricots, and dates are all great choices!
- Dark chocolate: If you really want a chocolate fix, go for a small piece of dark chocolate, which is typically lower in fat and sugar than other kinds of chocolate, contains some good fats, provides antioxidants, which improve immunity, and also contains nutrients like iron and magnesium.
When you’re craving sugary drinks, try:
- Ice water with fruit: You already know that staying hydrated is a healthy part of any diet, but the addition of fruit can add a touch of flavor and sweetness to jazz up your usual H2O.
- Iced tea with honey: Whether you opt for caffeinated or caffeine-free, tea sweetened with a touch of honey, which provides some vitamins and minerals – can be a real sweet treat and a far healthier option that the amount of sugar in soda. (As above, if you’re TTC, just make sure your honey is pasteurized.)
When you’re craving something cold, sweet, and creamy, instead of ice cream, try:
- Fruit with yogurt and honey
- A blended fruit and Greek yogurt smoothie
- Pureed frozen fruit with yogurt: You’ve already heard about all the good in yogurt and fruit, but a chilled treat like this will provide you with a tasty bowl or glass full of fiber, calcium, and vitamins.
When you’re craving a sugary breakfast cereal, try:
- Oatmeal with fruit and honey: The fruit and honey? Yummy and nutritious. The oatmeal? It provides you with more of those same goodies in whole grains, plus the oat bran can help lower cholesterol levels.
Eating healthy isn’t all-or-nothing, it exists on a scale, and the more nutrients, and the less empty calories, you can fit into every snack, the further towards the “healthy” end of the scale you’re going to move.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Pregnancy nutrition: Healthy-eating basics.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, February 15 2015. Retrieved August 28 2017. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-nutrition/art-20046955.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Pregnancy diet: Focus on these essential nutrients.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, February 15 2015. Retrieved August 28 2017. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-nutrition/art-20045082?pg=1.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Prenatal vitamins: Why they matter, how to choose.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, September 13 2016. Retrieved August 28 2017. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-nutrition/art-20045082?pg=1.
- “Good Nutrition During Pregnancy for You and Your Baby.” Cleveland Clinic. The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, June 15 2015. Retrieved August 28 2017. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/good-nutrition-during-pregnancy-for-you-and-your-baby.
- “Nutrition During Pregnancy.” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, April 2015. Retrieved August 28 2017. https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Nutrition-During-Pregnancy.