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Tips to Adding Nutritious Snacks During Pregnancy

Updated: Jan 5, 2020

Okay so you are pregnant and now "eating for two"... is that even a real thing? How do I add extra calories while still eating healthy?

Great Questions!

In most cases, you are not actually eating for two, its quite a bit less than that actually. Within your first trimester you do not need any extra calories from what you needed before becoming pregnant.

In the second trimester, your needs increase to an additional 340calories per day. The third trimester that recommendation goes up to 450 calories a day. Breastfeeding actually requires the most calories at 450-500 additional calories. This can be quite a bit, however, definitely does not equate to eating for two...

Awesome, so now how do you implement and actually eat the right amount of calories? Well within the first trimester just keep on doing you with a focus on nutrient dense foods, aka foods that may not have a lot of calories but contain a lot of nutrients. Some people in the media call these super foods, but it's just a focus on foods that give you the most bang for your buck.

Within the 2nd and 3rd trimester, you don't have to go crazy either. Many women get in their extra calories by one extra snack during the day or a little bit extra at each meal. For example, a snack of 12 whole grain crackers (240 calories) with 3 tablespoons of hummus (80calories) equals 364 calories.

Other snack ideas focusing on adding kcal:

1 tablespoon of peanut butter (190kcal) with whole grain toast (69kcal) and 1/2 banana (53 kcal)= 312 kcal total 

1 oz popcorn =106kcal

20 Baby carrots (70kcal) and 1 tablespoon of ranch (140kcal) = 210kcal

15 Corn chips (132kcal) and salsa 1/4 cup (25kcal)= 157kcal

1/4 cup of Pistachios and an apple =277kcal

1 cup Edamame (soy beans)= 127kcal

There are certain nutrients that you need more of during pregnancy. Another hint we have for you is to focus on increasing your intake of foods that have these key nutrients to make sure your calories are, well, efficient. These are:

Vitamin D: You need 600 IU during pregnancy. You can find these in dairy products, mushrooms, eggs, salmon, sardines, etc.

Folate: You need 600mg during pregnancy. Folate is most common in leafy greens, brussels sprouts, fortified grains, beans/peas, and lentils.  

Iron: You need a whopping 27mg during pregnancy. The most common foods to get iron from is meat (chicken, beef, pork), beans and peas (soy beans and lentils), pistachios, spinach, fortified cereals, and sardines.

Here are some example snacks/foods that are high in these nutrients:

1/4 cup pistachios- 182kcal, 1.5mg iron. 72mcg Folate

3 oz salmon- 180kcal, 447IU vitamin D, 0.5 mg iron 

1 cup mushrooms- 15kcal, 400IU vitamin D, 20mcg folate

8 oz of Milk - 120IU Vit D

1 egg- 78kcal, 40 IU vitamin D, 40 mcg Folate,

1 cup Lentils- 230 kcal, 7mg iron, 358 mcg Folate

1 cup of Soy beans- 254 kcal, 30mg iron, 92mcg Folate

1 cup of Spinach- 7kcal, 60mcg folate, 6 mg iron


With this you could make:

Lentil soup with spinach and mushrooms

Rice and bean bowl with spinach and steak

Spinach salad with eggs, pistachios, bacon, mushrooms, onions, balsamic dressing

Spinach and cheese omelette with mushrooms

Salmon with brussels sprouts 

These are just some ideas for you, but we want you to make sure that you are still getting a variety of nutrients and colors during your meals to create a balanced diet. All nutrients are important during this time and you want some of everything!

We would also like to say that it is okay to honor your cravings, theres probably a reason for them. While cravings during pregnancy are common, and may be strange, they aren't all bad. More often than not cravings come from a place of mild to moderate deficiency. Essentially it is your body's way of telling you it needs something such as carbs, protein, etc. Also if you listen to your body and give it what it wants, it will most likely be satisfied and the cravings will subside. This will decrease binge eating and cases of overeating, and increase your own overall happiness!

If this is something the resonates with you and you want to figure out how to implement this into your life with the help of an AMAZING support system right by your side along the way, Mamas Maternal Health is here for you! Check out our join us page to see how you can feel confident about your nutrition and breastfeeding decisions and give yourself the support you NEED during this journey!

Until next time!

Mikayla and Cassie

Mamas Maternal Health Registered Dietitians/Lactation Counselors


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