This post is part of our ongoing “Five Questions With” series, in which we interview a pregnancy health and wellness expert on their particular area of focus. Is there an individual or topic you’d like to see featured in “Five Questions With”? Send us an e-mail.
This month on the Healthy Mama, Happy Baby blog we’re focusing on healthy snacking for pregnant (and breastfeeding) mamas. We interviewed Registered Dietitian Aglaée Jacobs about her perspective on snacking throughout pregnancy.
Aglaée is a no-nonsense & gut-friendly registered dietitian and nutritionist with over ten years of experience. She faced many health issues, especially with her digestion and hormones, which made her ditch the food pyramid to develop a natural and holistic approach to heal herself.
She shares her approach in her book & cookbook Digestive Health with REAL Food: A Practical Guide to an Anti-Inflammatory, Nutrient Dense Diet for IBS & Other Digestive Issues and her blog RadicataNutrition.com. She is also a crunchy mom and co-hosts the podcast Real Food Mamas.
Now that she healed herself, she loves eating (chocolate, plantains and butter are her favorite foods!), yoga, traveling, practicing her Spanish and spending time in nature.
Five Questions With: Aglaée Jacobs
What is the best way to combine food to create a nutritious and satiating snack?
The word “snack” is unfortunately synonymous with “treat” for many people, but true snacks can be healthy and fit a balanced diet, especially for pregnant or nursing mothers. (Remember, Steph wants you to think of snacks as mini-meals.) Sometimes throughout pregnancy, you need a little extra food between meals to provide the nutrients your body requires, and to better balance your blood sugar and energy levels until your next meal.
Be sure to create nutritious snacks that will replenish your body’s nutrient stores, ensuring that you’re not starving or craving sugar within 30 minutes. The combinations that work are composed of a carbohydrate + a protein/fat or a protein + a fat on its own. Strive to choose carbohydrates, proteins and fats from the least processed and most nutrient-dense sources you can.
Here are a few ideas of what a nutritious and satiating snack can look like for a hungry mama:
Carb + Protein:
- A piece of fruit (apple, banana, orange or pear) and a handful of nuts (almonds or macadamia)
- Some sardines with cut veggies
- Liver pâté spread on celery and apple slices
Carb + Fat:
- Berries drizzled with coconut milk
- A banana mashed with coconut butter and unsweetened dried coconut
- Leftover mashed sweet potatoes with coconut oil or grass-fed ghee and cinnamon
Protein + Fat:
- A hard-boiled egg with extra-virgin olive oil or Whole30-compliant mayonnaise
- Leftover meat and veggies cooked in some healthy fats (olive oil, ghee, coconut oil)
- A few slices of wild-caught smoked salmon with a bit of avocado
What are your favorite go-to prepared snack foods?
Many mamas live busy lives and can’t (or don’t want to) be in the kitchen all day. This is why I think it’s important to keep prepared snack foods options around. It’s best to base your diet on unprocessed foods as much as possible, but sometimes a healthy prepared snack is better than starving or hitting the vending machine.
Some of my favorites to carry around just in case are Rx Bars; EPIC bars; Wild Zora Meat & Veggie Bar; Organic Unsweetened Roasted Coconut chips; Nick’s Sticks; Alive & Radiant Organic Kale Krunch (these are not Whole30 compliant due to some added sugar, but they’re a good choice for anytime you’re not doing a Whole30); Go Raw Spicy Fiesta Sprouted Seed Mix.
What are some non-packaged snacks I take with me on the go?
Fruit is a portable option, because many of them (apples, bananas and citrus) come in their own natural packaging. I also like to carry a little reusable snack bag with dried bananas, unsweetened coconut chips, homemade jerky and/or nuts for emergencies.
Hard-boiled eggs are also quite portable as long as you don’t leave them in your purse for more than an hour before eating them and you don’t mind the peeling (bring a bag for the eggshells).
A whole small avocado can work as long as you bring a knife to cut it in half and a spoon to scoop the nutritious creamy monounsaturated-rich flesh (again, bring a bag to avoid getting stuck with the peel and seed).
Be creative and think outside of the box!
What are your best pieces of advice for healthy snacks for long road trips?
Pack a cooler with healthy foods and make sure you research strategically located pit stops to refuel your body on the way.
Pack things like hard-boiled eggs, prosciutto slices, smoked salmon, or leftovers from a meal containing some protein, veggies, carbs and/or healthy fats in your cooler. Make sure you add an ice pack and that your food stays within a safe temperature range, especially if traveling on a hot summer day.
You can also pack foods that don’t require to be kept cold, such as canned fish, grass-fed jerky, a mix of nuts, a jar of nut butter, some fruits, coconut chips, kale chips, coconut butter and any of the healthy bars mentioned earlier so you have something quick and easy within reach whenever you need it.
If you don’t want the hassle of stocking up before leaving, just make sure you do your research and know where you can find health food stores on your way to find healthy options between your meals.
What are your 5 top tips for planning healthy snacks?
My tips are all about being prepared and knowing how to combine different foods. I want you to learn to give your body the most nutrients possible while keeping your blood sugar and energy levels stable until the next time you sit down for a meal.
Tip 1: Be prepared Being prepared is half the battle. Take the time to sit down and write your 5 favorite go-to snacks and keep the ingredients you need for these snacks on hand at all time. That way, it will be easy for you to reach of nutritious snack options that you can feel good about both in your mind and body.
Tip 2: Think of snacks as mini-meals The food industry has made “snacks” synonymous with sugary and nutrient-devoid treats. But, we know that this is not what your body needs. Think of snacks as mini-meals that help you get the nutrients you’re not able to get at your meals. Being a mama is hard work and your body deserves the best food to function at its best and for you to feel like the superwoman you are.
Tip 3: Think outside of the box Foods that come in a wrapper or box are certainly more convenient but try thinking outside of the box too. A snack can be anything from a few bites of leftovers to some liver pâté on cucumber or apple slices or a piece of fruit spread with almond butter. I know it may feel a bit weird like it was for me at first but I promise you’ll get used to it. Oops… I’m starting to get hungry now!
Tip 4: Don’t be afraid of fat Fat is definitely the magic ingredient to add to most of your snacks if you want to provide your body with a bit more energy, enhance your absorption of fat-soluble nutrients and better balance your blood sugar and energy levels. My favorite healthy fat options to add to a snack are avocado, extra-virgin olive oil, grass-fed ghee, coconut oil, coconut butter, coconut milk, nut butter and nuts.
Tip 5: Make it a habit for the whole family All of these real food-based snack ideas are not only good for you but also for your (future) little ones. I truly believe that one of the best gifts you can hive your children is to teach to love and appreciate real foods. Modeling healthy snacking, starting in the womb if you can, is the best way to help the whole family develop a healthy body and relationship with food.