For many expectant mamas, finding food you actually want to eat during the first weeks of pregnancy can be a challenge, thanks to nausea, food aversions, powerful cravings or digestive woes—or a combination of the above. (We've been there too, mama!)
Small meals can help. Regular snacks can be essential in keeping the seemingly endless fatigue and nausea at bay, as when your stomach is empty or your blood sugar gets low, your surging hormones can increase nausea (hello, crackers in your nightstand). These snacks aim to be both palatable and neutral-tasting enough for when all you really can keep down is a plain bagel or dry cereal, but they're also packed with additional nutrients to help your body keep doing the important work of growing a baby.
What every mother wants to eat and can tolerate during the first trimester can vary widely, but here are a few of our favorites.
1. Plain Greek yogurt with frozen berries
Greek yogurt has two to three times the amount of protein as regular yogurt, which means that it can help you feel fuller longer and provide you with some of the essential nutrients that your body needs, such as calcium. Paired with thawed berries, this naturally sweet snack will keep your blood sugar balanced and keep you sated for a while—until your next snack, that is.
2. Cottage cheese and pineapple
With 13 grams of protein in half a cup, cottage cheese is one of the best dairy sources of protein. Pair it with super-sweet fresh pineapple for a classic snack that can help you make it through that 3 p.m. slump without needing a snooze.
3. Chia pudding with coconut milk
Soaking tiny chia seeds in coconut milk makes for a stellar plant-based snack that's also packed with good fats and loads of minerals. Sweeten it to your heart's content with maple syrup or honey, or add a dollop of jam when serving.
4. Banana smoothie
You may not be able to stomach a green smoothie, especially thicker ones, during your first trimester, but this one is light and simple: Blend 1 cup oat milk, 1/2 frozen banana (sliced), and 1 small orange (peeled) in a high-powered blender. It's intensely refreshing and packs both calcium and protein.
5. Toast for days
Toast often seems like a wonder food during the first trimester, and while you might crave it topped with just butter, try some smashed avocado and a little salt for a satisfying dose of good fats.
Or top buttered toast with a sliced hard-cooked egg and a little salt or cheese. Some complex carbs, a dose of protein and fat will make your unsettled stomach calm right down.
6. DIY trail mix with dry cereal
Straight-up nuts might not sit so well during the first trimester, but you have a better chance of feeling good if you mix them with some complex carbohydrates. Try Kashi Heart to Heart cereal, Puffins, Crispix or even Kix to make a super snack mix.
7. Banana and nut butter
Bananas are a good source of potassium, and their natural carbohydrates might even make you feel a little less queasy. Top with a spoonful of peanut or almond butter for a creamy dose of protein.
8. Protein bars
Pregnant people need lots of high-quality protein, so keep a stash of easy-to-digest protein bars on hand. We particularly love them served very cold straight from the fridge as an afternoon or early-morning nibble.
9. Air-popped popcorn
A little salty, a little crunchy and filled with fiber, popcorn can satisfy those cravings for crunchy foods. Make it yourself—all you need is a brown paper lunch bag and some kernels, and then top with salt, butter or olive oil, plus grated parmesan or nutritional yeast.
10. Flax crackers and cheese
Saltines are great for keeping nausea at bay, but they won't fill you up for very long. Trade them in for a cracker with a little more substance (and fiber, protein and good fatty acids) like nutrient-dense flax crackers. You can top them with a bit of cheese or a savory nut-based spread for a mini meal.
11. Roasted chickpeas
Craving chips or pretzels? Try roasted chickpeas. They're both crunchy and salty and will likely sit well in your stomach—and they get bonus points for being a solid source of protein, fiber and magnesium.
12. Edamame with sea salt
These steamed soybeans are super neutral-tasting but can be a great way to get in a veggie when you can't even stomach the idea of broccoli or kale. Dust on a bit of sea salt or dip them in soy sauce for a salty snack.
13. Dates with nut butter
Dates are packed with iron and other minerals and are a super sweet way to quell sugar cravings. Thanks to their fiber density, they'll help keep your blood sugar balanced, to boot.
14. Hard-boiled eggs with everything bagel spice
Trust us on this—a sprinkle of everything bagel seasoning is all you need to make hard-boiled eggs crave-worthy. Oh, and a drizzle of good olive oil on top. Then revel in all the choline and protein you'll rack up.
A version of this post was posted on November 24, 2015. It has been updated.