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5 so called 'healthy' snacks to avoid during pregnancy

Snacks are an important part of a healthy prenatal diet. Why? Because they’re a great way to still your hunger and satisfy your cravings in between meals. They can also be super helpful when nausea kicks in and all you can stomach are small bites.

In any case, they can be a great addition to your diet and a delicious way to reach your dietary goals in terms of protein, fats, and vitamins. However, some snacks may seem healthy (thank you dear marketeers), but are in fact not that healthy at all.

Here’s a short list of so-called healthy snacks to ban from your kitchen:

Commercial fruit juices and premade smoothies

Yes, even the ones labelled “100 % fruit” and “no added sugars” are not a great option. Why? Because fruit in its liquid form will spike your - and your baby’s - blood sugar immediately. Frequent blood sugar spikes will not only leave you tired and hungry, it also increases your risk for gestational diabetes, affecting your baby’s growth and metabolic health for life. And yes, even your partner’s lovingly home-squeezed orange juice will have that same effect on you. But if you find it hard to say no to that, then combine it with a protein-rich meal, which will temper your blood sugar response a bit.

Granola bars

Unless homemade, these bars are often full of sugar and additives which puts granola bars on the same shelf as cookies I’m afraid. Homemade granola bars on the other hand can be true power snacks and are incredibly easy to make. Here’s the recipe of my chocolate protein bars, and my no-bake granola bars.

Protein drinks

Although protein drinks might be necessary for women suffering from severe nausea and vomiting, I don’t recommend buying protein drinks or powders without taking a good look at the label. These products are often very high in sugar (sometimes up to 50%!), and contain additives and unhealthy fats. When a protein drink is really necessary to reach your protein goals (which are indeed higher in pregnancy), I recommend choosing pure, unflavored whey powder from grass-fed cows which you will find at most food health stores.

Flavored and/or low-fat yoghurt

Low-fat and flavored dairy products may appear to be a low-calorie and nutritious snack. However, these versions are high in sugar or artificial sweeteners, which can increase the risk of gestational diabetes. Instead, opt for plain full-fat Greek yoghurt mixed with some homemade chia-jam and nuts for a delicious and nutritious snack.

(White) rice crackers

Sure, these are sugar-free, and convenient, but if they’re made with white rice they are true blood sugar spikers too. White rice is refined and has been stripped of all nutrients, leaving just empty calories with a high glycemic index. This means they’ll boost your blood sugar right after eating them. Add a chocolate coating to this and you put yourself on a sugar roller-coaster. The good news is that most stores also sell brown rice crackers which are a better alternative. Make sure to top these with some protein and good fats like cheese, nut butter, or avocado for an easy and balanced snack.

By now you might wonder what snacks you should eat instead. Here are 7 things you should look for in a a good prenatal snack…

  1. Keeps your blood sugar stable, and thus your energy. Yes, that little parasite in there is an energy-burning little machine (and it’s just the beginning 😉)

  2. Ensures a more constant nutrient supply to your baby, which means it won’t tax on your precious reserves

  3. Keeps you full for a while, so you don’t end up grazing all day (which wouldn’t be a good idea because it would create a glycemic yoyo and mess with your already confused hormones)

  4. Fights (sugar) cravings, which are mainly the effect of bad blood glucose management

  5. Helps you reach your protein goals, which get higher throughout pregnancy

  6. Helps you eat more fiber, essential for good transit and gut health

  7. Helps you eat enough healthy fats, crucial for your baby’s brain development among other things (your baby’s brain is approximately 60% fat and being formed from scratch in your womb)

Craving some healthy snack inspiration? Download my free ebook with 30 sweet and savory pre- and postnatal snacks.

Want to learn more about which foods build a strong and healthy baby, come and join me at the Labour Dept. in Amsterdam where I will host 2 workshops (on April 5th and June 1st). Info and sign-up here.


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