Your Guide to Dessert During Pregnancy

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It’s the moment many of us have been waiting for: dessert — the cherry on top of a perfect meal. Even if you’re trying to eat healthier now that you’re eating for two, you don’t need to forgo dessert just because you’re expecting. There are a lot of health(ier) sweet treats you can indulge in at the end of the day that are also perfectly safe for your baby.

Here’s how to have your cake … and eat it too.

Healthy desserts to eat while pregnant

While it’s totally fine to have a daily dessert, moderation in all things is always key. Just try to stick to one or two small treats a day.

  • Fruit. The easiest, low-key dessert, fruit can be the perfect sweet ending to dinner. Opt for nutrient-packed produce such as peaches, raspberries, grapefruit, kiwi, strawberries, oranges, watermelon and blackberries. All of these fruits also contain tons of vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants and fiber.
  • Gelato. Churned slower with less air, this creamy dessert usually has less sugar, fat and calories than ice cream, so when you’re screaming for ice cream, try gelato instead.
  • Fruit pops. Another crave-worthy cold dessert are fruit pops. Skip the ones with higher sugar content or make your own by blending frozen fruits like bananas or mangos with Greek yogurt and freezing them with popsicle sticks.
  • Dark chocolate. Chocolate that is actually good for you? Sign us up. Those that are more than 70 percent cocoa are packed with compounds called flavanols that may help protect your heart. Aim for about a 1-ounce serving.
  • Yogurt parfaits. Protein, calcium, vitamins, fiber. Nope, we’re not talking about your pregnancy prenatal vitamin, but a creamy yogurt parfait mixed with some berries and nuts. Stick to the low-fat, unsweetened kind and dress up this dessert in a pretty glass or bowl with some berries on top.
  • Chocolate-covered nuts. Combine the healthy properties of dark chocolate with the ones from nuts and you’ve got a tasty dessert you can eat on the go. Again, stick to a 1-ounce portion — about a small handful.
  • Angel food cake. With no butter, this light cake sports just egg whites, flour, cream of tartar and sugar. Pile some sliced fruit on top for a nutritious boost.

Desserts to avoid while pregnant

Just to stay on the safe side, skip these favorite treats for now until your little one arrives.

  • Foods flavored with licorice root. Some licorice-flavored treats contain glycyrrhizin, a compound that could affect your baby’s brain development when eaten in large amounts.
  • Tiramisu, chocolate mousse and uncooked meringues. These all incorporate raw eggs into their decadent recipes, upping the risk of salmonella.

Tips for healthy desserts while pregnant

There are ways to give your desserts a nutrient boost. Here are some simple, helpful techniques.

  • Go for honey, Honey. While still a form of sugar, honey has a few more nutrients than the refined stuff. All in all, aim to make added sweeteners (including those in beverages, cereal and yogurt) less than 10 percent of your total daily calories. 
  • Drizzle a little maple syrup. Maple syrup contains some antioxidants and other nutrients, but it’s still a sweetener, so go easy on the syrup.
  • Try baking it yourself. Since you control the ingredients, you can make some healthier tweaks (like using whole grain flour or oats) on your favorite dish.

Delicious dessert recipes for pregnancy

Muffins and quick breads

Cookies and cakes

Fruity treats

From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Health information on this site is based on peer-reviewed medical journals and highly respected health organizations and institutions including ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), as well as the What to Expect books by Heidi Murkoff.

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