Pregnancy Cravings? Try These Twelve Nutritional Trimester Approved Snacks

4 Trimesters, Twelve Snacks, 1 Growing Belly

A breakdown of nine snacks to power your pregnancy broken down into trimesters.

I often get asked by clients about what healthy snacks I ate during my pregnancy. As a personal preference, I tried to stay consistent about avoiding added sugars, highly-processed grains, and high-sodium foods. 

I was very active during both of my pregnancies and was teaching multiple fitness classes throughout, so I also had to make sure I was eating enough good, quality proteins, fats, and carbs and was very mindful of staying hydrated.   

My pregnancy tastes and food choices differed slightly between pregnancies. 

The pregnant body is fascinating, especially when it comes to cravings and aversions. It is often said that your cravings and aversions during pregnancy are a potential signal of nutrients your body needs or has too much of in order for your body to find homeostasis and provide baby with the necessary nutrients for healthy growth and development.

For example, I went from being a vegetarian for about three years before my first pregnancy, to quickly craving pulled pork in my first few weeks of pregnancy and being grossed out by numerous vegetables in my first trimester.

Yet, with my second pregnancy, I was grossed out by almost all meats and craved salad and fruit! 

The following snacks are of personal preference and were consciously chosen to support my needs, cravings, and comfort throughout pregnancy.

With that said, here are my top snack choices, by trimester, between the two of my pregnancies:

1st Trimester

As many women know, the first trimester can be hard when trying to eat right or eat anything at all! Sometimes I would wake up starving and want to eat everything… and some days I could only nibble on crackers just to get some food in my belly. 

Here were some of my go-to snacks that helped me deal with food aversions and helped me consume necessary calories for the day:

1. Bone Broth

Three cups of bone broth surrounded by carrots, mushrooms, herbs, and ginger set atop a cutting board.

Sipping on broth was a go-to throughout both of my pregnancies! Especially in the first trimester and the last month of pregnancy. If I ever had morning sickness and couldn’t eat anything, I could almost always sip on a cup of chicken bone broth. 

Organic Bone Broth is packed with nutrients that are great for a pregnant belly – protein in the form of collagen, healthy fats, calcium, Vitamins A & K, Magnesium, Iron, Selenium, and Zinc – to name a few.

The star of bone broth is the nutrient Collagen. This protein is necessary as our body shifts and grows throughout pregnancy – Collagen is important to help maintain the connective tissue that is stretched during pregnancy – such as the Linea Alba. 

A thinning, over-stretched Linea Alba can eventually lead to a pregnancy-related injury called Diastasis Recti. A diastasis in the Linea Alba is normal throughout pregnancy. A natural “separation of the abdominals” will occur as your belly grows to make room for baby.

However, if you let this connective tissue overstretch without maintaining control of your inner-core muscles, you are going to put more wear and tear on the connective tissue, leading to more microtears and injury down the line.

If your injury-based Diastasis goes untreated, there is also a higher risk in developing a hernia, which can cause more problems down the line.

Keeping up with your Collagen intake during pregnancy is going to help you maintain your connective tissue throughout your body.

For vegetarians or pescatarians, a variety of marine collagen supplements are becoming more widely available and still provide a variety of benefits. Just be sure they are not loaded with fillers and soy.

If you are concerned about collagen intake for a vegetarian diet, consider foods like wild rice and organic leafy greens – which both contain lots of supportive nutrients to promote muscle and connective-tissue maintenance.

Try adding some wild rice to an organic vegetable broth!

2. Flax

A spoonful of flax seed.

Flax Oil or Milled Flax Seeds are abundant in Omega-3 Fatty Acids – an essential nutrient for fetal brain development.

Caution: Flax seeds and flax oil should be consumed in moderation – about 1 TBSP per day.

Flax Seeds are packed with fibre, magnesium, postssium, protein, zinc, vitamins B6 and E, and Omega-3 Fatty Acids. 

Flax is beneficial for both mom and baby.

For Mom: Pregnancy tends to lower mom’s immune system. By consuming flax, you’ll unlock some important phytonutrient protection which can provide our immune system with a boost. 

For Baby: Flax seeds are especially great in the first two trimesters since they are rich in Omega3s and Linoleic Acids – which are essential nutrients for fetal brain development – which is growing rapidly in those first few months. Did you know, your baby’s brain is already developing by week 5? And from here on out, rapid brain development occurs. 

Flax Seed or Cold-Pressed Flax Oil is best when consumed organic to avoid potentially harmful pesticides and chemicals.

Try some milled flax crackers and blend some up in a smoothie. You can get the same benefits from Cold-Pressed Flax Oil which will be found in the refrigerated section at most local grocers.

3. Berries

Raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries.

Berries are high in Vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, potassium, and folate – all of which are super important for your pregnancy. 

Folate is essential due to its role in making DNA and is essential for healthy neurodevelopment. 

You may be familiar with “Folic Acid” which is found in prenatal vitamins. Folic Acid is a synthetic form of folate and is not the same as naturally derived folate.  Folate is the general term for B9 – which can be found in Folic Acid, folinic acid, methylfolate, and food folate. 

While it is still considered important to consume a prenatal vitamin that includes folic acid due to the limitations of our food industry and bioavailable foods, when possible, it is still a good idea to load up on folate-rich foods such as berries, leafy greens, beans, and citrus fruits because folate is more readily available. 

Note, those with the MTHFR gene variant and aren’t able to metabolize folic acid efficiently and will benefit from consuming folate-rich foods.

One of my favorite go-to snacks was frozen wild blueberries in oat milk as an after-dinner dessert.

Again, organic is best, when possible, since berries are known to be sprayed for pests. If you can find wild blueberries that are from a farm that does not spray their crops with harmful chemicals, wild is great, too! 

Second Trimester

1. Carrots

Organic carrots provide a great source Beta-Carotene which is converted into Vitamin A – A necessary nutrient for fetal development. (Note, Vitamin A in the form of Retinol – like in animal sources or synthetically derived – can  be harmful to a fetus when consumed in excess amounts.). 

Vitamin A is important for baby’s bone, teeth, and eye development.

For a yummy snack, crunch on carrots with creamy hummus!

Carrot sticks with hummus dip.

2. Hummus

Hummus can be a very beneficial snack during pregnancy – however, it comes with a warning.

Hummus, made from chickpeas and tahini, is high in protein, healthy fats and calcium. This dip also usually contains olive oil – a great source of MUFAs (Monounsaturated foods – great for heart health!), lemon juice– high in vitamin C and antioxidants, and garlic – also high in antioxidants! 

Take note, store-bought hummus comes with a risk of containing listeria or other bacterial contaminations. To reduce this risk, consider making your own!

Try my easy homemade hummus recipe!

3. Nut/Seed Butter with Apples

Sliced apples with a bowl of peanut butter. Some apples have been dipped in the peanut butter.

I loved almond butter with my first pregnancy and peanut butter with my second. Nut and seed butters are a great source of protein and healthy fats when you’re looking to take in a couple hundred extra calories to meet your increasing caloric needs as your baby grows. 

Bonus: Apples are high in fiber and vitamins and pair wonderfully nut/seed butters for a tasty treat to give you a boost between meals!

Third Trimester

1. Dates Dates Dates!

A bowl of medjool dates.

I loved to eat dates during my pregnancies (and still do)! 

Eating one medjool date will land you close to 70 calories per date and will provide you with some much needed vitamins and minerals – like potassium, to keep your body’s electrolytes in balance – and fiber. 

The main reason I love eating dates during pregnancy, especially during the last trimester, is for its alleged properties that influence our hormones estrogen and progesterone, which play a role in ripening our uterus and cervix. 

In a 2011 study, women who ate 6 dates a day for four weeks prior to their estimated due dates were shown to have a higher mean cervical dilation and shorter duration of first-stage labor compared to the group that didn’t consume dates. 

The study also noted that 96 percent of the women who consumed dates experienced spontaneous labor, while only 79 percent of the women who didn’t eat dates had spontaneous labors.

Try stuffing dates with peanut butter for a sweet caramel-like treat! Or if you’d rather something a little more savory, try stuffing dates with sharp cheddar cheese for a fun treat for your taste buds!

If you are on the go and needing a snack, grab a Lara Bar – which are non-gmo snack bars sweetened with dates and nuts. (The blueberry and chocolate peanut butter bars are my favorites!)

2. Green Smoothies

The top view of a spinach smoothie.

Not a fan of eating leafy greens like spinach? Blend it up! Spinach is another vegetable that is loaded with folate! Spinach will also provide you with the nutrients iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C. 

However, spinach is on the “dirty dozen” list for pesticide contamination, so make sure to buy your spinach organic to help limit consumption of these nasty chemicals. 

Limit yourself to approximately ½ to 1 C of spinach per day if you are susceptible to kidney stones. Lastly, as with all produce, be sure to wash your spinach to reduce the risk of consuming harmful bacteria.

Spinach can be added to smoothies to help you get more greens if you’re not into eating steamed spinach or salads every day. 

Try my go-to delicious blueberry, spinach, and yogurt smoothie recipe.

3. Avocados

A bowl of guacamole with halved avocados on the side.

More specifically, guacamole.

I craved guacamole throughout both of my pregnancies. (I also craved salty tortilla chips to go with it!)

Avocado is a great healthy fat full of phenomenal nutrients like folate, magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, and Vitamin C. Plus, they are high in fat to leave you feeling full and also provide you with the necessary extra calories to consume in your 3rd trimester. 

As for the salty chip craving, I opt for Cassava Chips to help keep gmo corn out of my diet. I like them even better than regular tortilla chips! My favorite are from the company Siete. They are super thin and crispy and are made with avocado oil. They pair perfectly with my guacamole recipe. (Ok, I’ll admit, I occasionally go for the white corn tortilla chips. Definitely buy these organic if you are able!)

Note, I do not recommend buying store-bought, pre-made guacamole or guac powders. These are loaded with fillers and preservatives to keep the guac from turning brown and sour. Fresh, homemade guac is always best. And it’s surprisingly easy to make!

Here is my favorite homemade guacamole recipe.

BONUS: Fourth Trimester, Mom’s Recovery

The fourth trimester is an important time for mom’s recovery. Your food choices are going to help nourish your body to recover more efficiently and effectively. And whether you are nursing or formula feeding, your caloric intake and hydration is still important.

1. Pineapple

Pineapple is a fantastic recovery food. It’s loaded with nutrients like Vitamin C, Manganese, and various micronutrients that are great for boosting immunity and lowering inflammation.

This antioxidant-rich food is touted for helping fight oxidative stress.

The first few days after delivering a baby can be hard on our elimination. Eating pineapple can help aid in digestion and is a great after meal dessert.

If you are planning on nursing, pineapple’s anti-inflammatory affects can help encourage less inflammation in the breast and can assist if your breasts become engorged.

Pineapple is also said to alleviate pain and aid in recovery from surgery and strenuous exercise. Pineapple juice after you deliver has potential to help limit pain from uterine cramping and post-birth discomfort.

Personally, I craved pineapple very soon after delivery and downed some organic pineapple juice along with some coconut water to rehydrate and promote healing.

Tip: Before your due date, buy an organic pineapple, wash the rind before slicing (to make sure no bacteria will contaminate the fruit when cutting) and throw it in a container or air-tight bag to freeze so you will have some on hand after delivery to throw into a smoothie.

2. Trail Mix

For a protein-rich, nutrient-dense snack that’s easy to grab and go, before labor, consider prepping a batch of trail mix to have on hand for when you are resting and recovering with your newborn.

Choose nuts with good fats and high protein, unsweetened dried fruits for a boost in vitamins, and dark chocolate chips or cocoa nibs for sweetness cravings.

3. Protein Bites

For another protein-rich snack that is already made, consider making some no-bake protein bites that you can stick in the freezer.

These are great for satisfying hunger between meals.

Try my No-Bake Chocolate PB Protein Bites recipe.

Mindful Food Choices

One thing to remember during your pregnancy, is the phrase “We are what we eat”… and if that is true, then it also applies to the baby growing in your belly (or, your breastmilk if you are nursing)!

Take care and be conscious of what you are consuming. Be mindful of harsh chemicals like pesticides and limit your consumption of chemically-processed sugar. Try baking or sweetening things with pure maple syrup and local honey** but stay mindful with how much you are consuming.

As your baby develops, they take in the nutrients you consume. These nutrients affect their growth and development. Treat your body and your growing baby with care. Find comfort in nurturing your baby right from the start by taking good care of yourself. 

Something else to be mindful of is how much you are eating and whether or not you are getting enough. Be sure to talk with your care provider about how many extra calories you should be consuming each trimester. This will vary depending on your pre-pregnancy weight, height, and activity level, among other things.

Lastly, don’t forget to stay hydrated and drink plenty of clean water throughout your pregnancy. Aim for half of your body weight in ounces and be sure to drink an extra eight ounces per 30 minutes of exercise.

Don’t Stress, Mama

Among all things, don’t be too hard on yourself. If some days, all you can take down is a a couple pieces of chocolate and a few peanut-butter crackers… don’t beat yourself up about it. Try not to let your food decisions weigh on you. Pregnancy is 40 weeks long. Some days will be easier than others. It’s ok, mama!

And if you ever have questions or concerns about what you are eating, there is no shame in seeking advice from your care provider, a friend, a nutritionist, or someone in the birthing world.

If you choose to breastfeed, be sure to check out my list of favorite snacks for breastfeeding along with what I packed in my nursing basket!

*Note: Melissa is a certified pre and postnatal fitness specialist with additional certifications in personal training and sports nutrition. Melissa is not a registered dietician. If you have any questions or concerns about your caloric intake or diet throughout your pregnancy, please consult with your care provider or a registered dietician.

**Honey is NOT safe to give to a baby under one year of age due to the risk of Botulism. However, it is safe for MOM to consume honey if breastfeeding, because botulism isn’t transmitted via breastmilk.