Healthy Snacks During Pregnancy
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Being pregnant can be one of the most wonderful feelings on earth. Just knowing that there is a tiny human being inside you that is growing stronger every day and that you are helping it in each way possible to achieve that is an amazing feeling. The healthier your embryo is then the higher the chance of you having a worry-free birth and healthy baby once it is born.
The best start
You want to give your baby the best start in life so concentrating on eating healthily and keeping fit and active is essential when you are pregnant. Of course, you can always have the odd take away or plate of junk food, but always remember that your little one is affected by what you eat.
You will probably find that you are hungrier than normal. This is perfectly understandable, but the myth of having to 'eat for two' is seen as a misnomer nowadays. You do not need to eat double of what you used to, just make sure that what you do eat is full of vitamins, protein and all the necessary nutrients to give the best start to the embryo thriving inside you.
A balanced diet
The more colours you have on your plate for your meal, then the more nutritious your food is likely to be. You are aiming for a balanced diet so even if before you were pregnant you did not consider what you were consuming, now is the time you need to think about it.
For a balanced diet you need protein, which comes from fish, meat, dairy products such as milk and cheese, eggs, nuts, and grains and pulses. Proteins are the building blocks that our bodies need for muscle, bone and internal body organs. While you are pregnant, especially in the early weeks, your body will require between 15 and 20% more protein.
A great snack that is packed full of protein is sardines on toast. Any oily fish contains essential fatty acids which are superb for boosting your baby's brain power. It is advisable, however, to only have oily fish twice a week. Other protein-packed snacks are a chunk of cheese, a handful of almonds or walnuts and a boiled egg with wholemeal toast.
There are two types of carbohydrates - simple and complex. Complex carbohydrates are the type you want to focus on and they are found in such foods as potatoes, wholemeal bread, pasta, brown rice and pulses such as lentils and chick peas. These are the mainstay of a healthy diet as they provide a steady and slow release of energy over a long period, meaning you stay fuller for longer.
Simple carbohydrates are found in sweet items such as cakes, fizzy drinks and biscuits. Although lovely, they have hardly any nutritional value. That sneaky bar of chocolate you had for elevenses might give you a burst of energy but it does not last. Of course, that is not to say you have to avoid these like the plague, just temper your quantity if you are prone to a sweet tooth.
Toast made from wholemeal bread is a great snack, maybe spread with peanut butter or Marmite. Other snacks to try are a pasta salad smothered in humus (which is made from chick peas), a jacket potato with melting butter or a couple of rice cakes.
These include milk, yoghurt, cheese and fromage frais and provide you with a balanced mixture of calcium, protein, fats and vitamins A, B and D. Aim to have two to four servings of low fat dairy products a day.
Eating a substantial breakfast will get you off to a good start and can include one or two portions if you drink milk and have natural yoghurt on your cereal. Snacks in this area could include a milky drink such as hot chocolate, scrambled egg, or a delicious fruity yoghurt.
These are vital for good health for you and your baby. The five are vitamins A, B, C, D and E and with the exception of vitamin D, all have to be obtained through the food we eat. The best source of vitamin A is orange fruit and vegetables so eat up your greens. Vitamin B is sourced from chicken, beef and lamb, green vegetables, nuts and fortified cereals among others.
To get vitamin C you need to eat citrus fruits, potatoes with the skins on, and tomatoes. Vitamin D is produced by the body from exposure to daylight and vitamin E is found in eggs, green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli, and in vegetable oils.
Other healthy snacks
If you find yourself munching on biscuits and cakes throughout the day, try to cut down and swap instead for something more nutritious like a crispy apple, carrot sticks dipped in guacamole, a handful of dried fruit (this will also help with bowel movements if you are getting constipated) or a couple of whole wheat crackers.
There are many cereal bars around in the shops nowadays so choose those that have raisins and fruit in rather than going for the chocolate covered ones. If you crave chocolate, opt for high percentage cocoa bars (70% or more). These are usually dark chocolate bars. Test yourself to see if you can have just one or two squares at a time rather than the whole bar. You will still get that lovely sweetness in your mouth, something you can savour and enjoy the next time round.
Foods to avoid
There are certain foods during pregnancy that can cause harm to you and your baby so it is best to avoid things like soft cheeses, soft ice cream that comes from a machine, certain pates that are not wrapped, pre-cooked chickens and cook to chill foods.
If you can follow all this advice then you should feel well throughout your pregnancy as well as providing your baby with the best possible start. Let your body tell you what it needs, though craving coal or toothpaste is another matter entirely!