When you’re pregnant, healthy snacking can help meet your—and your growing baby’s—need for nutrients. And, if you snack correctly, you won’t have to worry about ruining your appetite or gaining extra pounds.
As a bonus, good snacking habits can help you ease cravings, nausea, and constipation. So, making healthy choices right now is more important than ever. Refer to our prenatal nutrition guide for more information on healthy eating during pregnancy.
Always remember that there isn’t one perfect pregnancy diet. But our snacking guide, plus 10 quick and healthy snack ideas, will help keep you satisfied and full of energy!
As a guide for snacking, try to combine foods that have healthy fat and protein with foods that are a good source of carbohydrate or starch.
This combination helps manage your blood sugar levels during pregnancy. It will help slow the rate that sugar is introduced into your circulation and reduce insulin spikes, too.
Combining the right foods is also a good way to feel fuller longer and help manage your risk for gestational diabetes.
1) Apple, almonds, and cheese
This classic, nutritious pregnancy snack is easy to take anywhere. Apples are a great source of insoluble fiber, which fights constipation, and soluble fiber, which can help lower cholesterol. Almonds are packed with protein and heart-healthy fat, plus magnesium, potassium, and bone-building calcium. Cheese is also a great source of calcium and protein.
2) Oven-baked sweet potato fries
When you're craving something crunchy and sweet, try this comfort snack. Sweet potatoes are higher in fiber, potassium, and vitamins and can be lower in sodium and fat than regular french fries, depending on how they are prepared.
3) Tortilla with hummus and tomatoes
Grab a whole-grain tortilla or pita and fill it with halved cherry tomatoes and hummus. One cup of tomatoes has just 25 calories, plus lots of vitamin C, the antioxidant lycopene, fiber, vitamin A, and a little folate. Hummus adds protein, fiber, healthy fat, and iron to this healthy snack.
Tip: For variety, switch out the tomatoes for another favorite veggie, such as diced carrots or green peppers.
4) Hard-boiled eggs
They’re the perfect on-the-go snack. Egg whites are high in protein, and the yolks have choline, for fetal brain and nervous system development, plus beta-carotene, a form of vitamin A. Eggs also have folate, which helps prevent birth defects of the brain and spine. Cook up a batch once a week so they’re easy to take anywhere.
Tip: Try a sprinkling of chili powder, garlic salt, smoked paprika, or iodized salt for a flavor kick. If you really want to spice things up, make deviled eggs!
5) Dark chocolate
You don’t need to completely deny your cravings. Having a little dark chocolate can even be healthy during pregnancy.
Dark chocolate contains antioxidants that boost immunity. These antioxidants have been shown to have a positive effect on your cardiovascular system and heart health. In fact, a recent study showed that one of the natural compounds in dark chocolate has been tied to a reduced risk for preeclampsia, a condition characterized by high blood pressure during pregnancy.
Select dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa for the greatest health benefits. As a good rule of thumb, use moderation in your choice of foods.
If you’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes and are watching how much sugar you eat, try a Glucerna® shake or snack bar. They taste great, are high in protein, and have a unique blend of slow-release carbohydrates to help manage blood sugar.
6) Mixed berry smoothie
Not all smoothies are created equal. Some store-bought smoothies can be high in sugar and low on fruit. But, you can easily make your own healthy version at home, using nonfat Greek yogurt and your choice of frozen fruit. It’s a healthy serving of protein, calcium, and many other important nutrients.
Tip: To help meet your increased needs during pregnancy (and lactation), make your smoothie with great-tasting MomCare by Similac® Prenatal & Postnatal Nutrition Shake. It has 7 g of protein, 26 vitamins & minerals, and 3 g of prebiotics. It’s also a delicious grab-and-go snack all by itself.
7) Homemade trail mix
These two mixes taste great and provide key pregnancy nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, essential fatty acids like Omega-3 and Omega-6, and magnesium to help build your baby’s bones, brain, eyes, and teeth.
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup dried tart cherries
½ cup raw almonds
½ cup dark chocolate chunks
½ cup walnuts
½ cup unsweetened coconut
½ cup dried diced mango
½ cup cashews
Each recipe makes 2 cups (½ cup = 1 serving).
8) Veggies or chips and guacamole
It’s important to take in lots of fluids during pregnancy, and cucumber and celery are about 95% water and low in calories. Guacamole is loaded with potassium to help maintain a fluid and electrolyte balance in your body. This can be especially helpful if you have swelling in your hands, legs, ankles, and feet.
9) No-bake protein energy bites
With just five ingredients and a mixing bowl, you can make a delicious, healthy snack. It’s loaded with protein, fiber, and healthy fats to keep you full and give you energy all day. These bites taste like dessert, but we promise they’re good for you!
Tip: If you’re not a huge peanut butter fan, cashew butter is milder and can make an energy bite that tastes a little more like cookie dough.
10) Build your own baked nachos
If you love restaurant nachos, you probably also know they’re loaded with calories, fat, and sodium. When you’re craving chips and cheese, here’s a healthier version you can make at home with baked tortilla chips.
Tip: You can also make your own salsa with fresh tomatoes, onion, and cilantro.
Always remember there isn’t one perfect pregnancy diet. You just need to focus on eating more of certain foods. It’s especially important to eat lean protein, fruit, vegetables, beans, and whole grains and foods that contain calcium, folate, and iron.
Eating smaller, more frequent meals or snacks is also a good idea to help satisfy cravings and ease digestion. If you’re wondering how many calories you should be eating during each trimester, check out our Pregnancy Weight Gain guide.
Snacks to avoid: sugary treats, soda, juice, and fried foods
It’s normal to have cravings, and it’s completely OK if you occasionally give in. But keep in mind that processed, sugary foods like cookies, candy, soda, and store-bought juices can give you quick energy and then cause you to crash later when your blood sugar drops. And while fried foods can be an indulgent meal, they may leave you feeling bloated and sluggish later.
Studies show that too much sugar during pregnancy can lead to having a larger baby and a harder delivery. It can also lead to gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) and make your baby more likely to have allergies, asthma, and other problems after birth. See The Art of Eating guide for more about satisfying cravings during pregnancy.
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Triche EW et al. Chocolate Consumption in Pregnancy and Reduced Likelihood of Preeclampsia. Epidemiology. 2008May; 19(3): 459–464.
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