The beautiful experience of pregnancy comes with a host of growth and change. As a mother prepares mentally, emotionally and spiritually for what is to come, her miraculous body is also gracefully at work.
Hormones are pumping, blood volume increases and nutrients are shuttled to the fetus. These functions happen effortlessly, yet the physical workings of the body can be fully supported with conscious dietary choices.
Especially during the 2nd and 3rd trimester, pregnant women need approximately 300 extra calories per day to provide energy and building blocks for fetal growth and development. Where these calories come from matters, as the quality of maternal nutrition can prevent the baby from a host of complications later in life, including heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease.
Nutrient-dense meals and smart snacking can be helpful for proper energy and adequate nutrient supply. When snacking between meals, stay away from refined carbohydrates, or essentially anything coming out of a box or package. These foods can disregulate blood sugar, leading to a quick surge of energy followed by a steep crash. This can manifest in symptoms such as feeling drowsy after eating, mood swings or feeling irritable. Instead, opt for foods that can provide a steady stream of energy, as well as fuel for the fetus. Whole food forms of complex carbohydrates and fats are also excellent for long-term energy, and provide feelings of satiation. Here are some examples:
Homemade bone broths: Full of collagen, one of the most important types of protein in the body. Collagen provides strength and structure for bones and organs and is especially helpful during times of growth. The collagen is also super satisfying and comforting.
Eggs (eat the yolks!): A perfect balance of protein and fat, which will keep you both energized and satisfied. A great source of B vitamins, important for the development of the nervous system, as well as choline, important for brain development. Eat the yolks soft-cooked or raw, which keeps the cholesterol from being oxidized, which would make it the “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Coconut: Contains lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid that is easily used by the body for energy. This type of fat does not need bile to be digested, and is metabolized and burned easily by the body. In other words, this type of fat won’t be stored, it will be used efficiently. Also aids in beautiful skin and hair. Look for organic cold-pressed.
Green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables: You can never go wrong with vegetables! Try dipping them in homemade hummus or pesto, or eating them alone for a crunchy snack.
Fruits: All berries are great choices because they’re full of antioxidants and bioflavonoids, without a high sugar impact. Try blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries and strawberries, or other fruits like grapefruit and passion fruit.
Vegetables dipped in mango-avocado salsa
Pesto on cucumber slices
Berries and coconut whipped cream
Hard-boiled eggs with avocado
Bone broth with vegetables
Nori chips with avocado
Homemade energy bars
Whole egg on a sweet potato bun
Coconut chip granola
Simple Olive Tapenade
This is a very simple and versatile recipe using crave-killing olives. Enjoy in a salad, on cucumber slices or on rice crackers.
about 1 c pitted kalamata olives
about ¼ c green olives (optional)
½ clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon capers, drained
juice from half a lemon
about ¼ cup chopped parsley (optional)
Directions: Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until well chopped. If you like a smoother tapenade, drizzle in about 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and pulse until reaching your desired consistency. Alternatively, mince all ingredients together with a knife.
To step this recipe up about 5 notches, add a few canned sardines to the food processor and pulse very well. Sardines offer excellent omega 3 fats and protein!
Mini Nori Wraps
Nori is a type of red seaweed typically used in sushi rolls, and like all seaweeds, offers a host of nutrients including iron and vitamin C. Enjoy nori alone as a savory snack, or add a filling, such as the one suggested below.
1 pack of nori sheets (reduced sodium, dried)
avocado, cut into cubes
brown rice, short grain, cooked
sauerkraut, raw (in the refrigerated section, or homemade)
Directions: Place 1-2 nori sheets on a cutting board and slice into squares. Lay out the squares and add small serving of rice, topped with avocado cubes and sauerkraut. Enjoy each square open-faced!
Mango Avocado Salsa
This can be a great snack especially during the warmer months. The sweetness from the mango is balanced with blood sugar-stabilizing avocado and super hydrating cucumber.
1 large mango, diced
1 small cucumber, diced
¼ yellow onion, diced finely, optional
1 avocado, cut into cubes
1 bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
2-3 tablespoons lime juice
1 small jalapeno, optional
salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Combine all ingredients into a bowl and toss lightly.
When in doubt, choose avocado for its healthy, beautifying fats. This is a super quick snack with few ingredients! Try it with jicama sticks, carrot sticks, plantain chips or on toast (whichever works for your digestion; gluten free, sourdough, whole wheat, etc).
1 lime, juiced
cumin, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste