Food essentials to carry in the handbag

11 handbag-fit foods that are perfect for pregnancy hunger pangs

Pregnancy is a phase which witnesses increased hunger, as now you are eating to keep both yourself and the baby healthy. In order to meet the increased nutrient requirements, the body keeps reminding you to eat by ramping up the hunger pangs. And these hunger pangs can strike any time, even when you are travelling and don’t have time to stop at an eatery. Moreover, it is safer to eat home-cooked items if you are not sure if a restaurant serves healthy foods. This is the reason why you need to be prepared.

So, carrying some healthy and non-messy foods in your handbag is always a good idea. This way, you can avoid digging into junk foods and aerated drinks too. Here is a list of foods that you can carry in your handbag easily and munch on, when the need arises. Also, some of these foods will last for a long time.

1. Khakra

These incredibly crispy crackers are made from wheat flour. They are made from soft wheat dough that may have some masala added to it and then flattened and roasted slowly on a tava with a wooden press. This makes them wafer-thin and a great replacement for potato chips. They come in a lot of flavours too. Just pack some crackers in a small steel container and you will have a healthy snack when you want something savoury.

2. Nuts

Pack a small box with a mix of almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and a few cashews. These nuts are rich in fibre, protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins like vitamin E, and minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, selenium, copper, and magnesium. Eat them unroasted or roasted, without salt, for maximum nutrition. 25 g is the ideal portion size.

3. Dried fruits

Dried figs, apricots, dates, raisins and prunes can give you that guilt-free sugar fix you want now and then. They come loaded with fibre, micronutrients, and antioxidants. Each dried fruit has its unique USP so you might want to load up on those that suit your particular requirement. For example, prunes or dried plums contain high amounts of fibre and a natural laxative called sorbitol that helps improve stool consistency and frequency. Dates and raisins cause low insulin spikes and have low to moderate glycaemic index. So, if you have or are at risk of gestational diabetes, a couple of dates and handful of raisins can satiate your taste buds. Dates are also a great source of fibre, iron, potassium and antioxidants. Regular consumption of dates during the last few months of pregnancy can help in cervical dilation and reduce the need for induced labour. However, remember that dried fruits are concentrated sources of fructose and calories, so don’t overdo them.

4. Salted peanuts

Peanuts contain healthy fats (the mono and polyunsaturated kinds), protein and fibre. These are also a treasure trove of micronutrients like niacin, copper, folate, vitamin E, thiamine, biotin, and magnesium. A packet of salted peanuts can tick both the nutrition and taste boxes. However, if you have hypertension, you might want to go with plain roasted peanuts. Roasted channa and green peas are other examples of protein-rich and healthy snacks.

5. Roasted Makhana or fox nuts

The original Indian popcorn has seen a revival of sorts in the recent years and why not? Fox nuts or makhana are devoid of saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. The best part is that it can be enjoyed by all, as you can tweak the salt content when you roast it at home. A small tsp of ghee and slow roasting for about 5-10 minutes on a low flame can do the trick. Just add any seasoning you like, and a high-protein low-sugar snack will be ready. Pack makhana in an airtight box to maintain crispiness.

6. Seed and nut trail mix

Prepare your own trail mix by mixing your favourite nuts and pumpkin, sunflower, chia, and melon seeds. Seeds contain good quality protein, essential fatty acids, calcium, zinc, copper, and magnesium. They are also rich in fibre. Buy them raw and toast them at home to control the fat and salt content. Mix them with a handful of nuts and bag it all.

7. Fresh fruits like apples, oranges, pears

Fresh fruits like apples and oranges are crispy, juicy, and full of essential vitamins and minerals. They are a great source of dietary fibre and can make you feel full for long. Pears, oranges and apples also don’t get squished easily in the handbag. These can be refreshing and will give you a quick burst of energy too.

8. Carrot sticks and bell pepper strips

Pack a small baggie or box with carrot sticks and bell pepper quarters. These are crunchy snacks that you can munch on while you are working. A medley of colourful bell peppers and carrots can taste great even without any dressing. Packed with vitamin A, C, K1, potassium, and antioxidants like anthocyanains, lycopene, lutein, and soluble fibre, these vegetables are hardy and do not spoil in the Indian heat. But don’t let them sit in your handbag for more than a day.

9. Milk and buttermilk

Milk and buttermilk are calcium and protein essentials for the pregnant woman. It is easy to carry one small tetra pack of plain or unflavoured milk or buttermilk in your handbag to quench your thirst too. However, try and avoid flavoured milks as they might contain artificial flavours, colours and added sugar. Also, if you are at risk of preeclampsia or have hypertension, stay away from salted buttermilk.

10. Chikkis

Nut brittle or chikkis made out of peanuts, sesame and rajgira with jaggery can be a convenient handbag food item. They are packed with fibre, calcium (from sesame seeds) and essential fatty acids. Sesame seeds are also a good source of protein, providing about 5 g of protein in a 30 g serving. Sesame seeds can also help reduce hypertension, treat thyroid problems and enhance bone health. Rajgira is a seed that is packed with iron, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorous, and supports bone health. Pick chikkis that are made with jaggery, but if you are prone to diabetes or are overweight, avoid them.

11. Water bottle

Drinking sufficient water during pregnancy is super important. Water helps absorb all the nutrients you consume and functions as a transporter of nutrients to your unborn child. Water can also help in managing some of the pregnancy-related health issues like constipation, fatigue, and headache. It can also help in keeping urinary tract infections at bay. However, make sure you only drink water that is safe and from a reliable source. The easiest way to ensure this is by carrying a water bottle. Fill it up at home and carry it around.

So, these were some of the foods that you can easily carry in your handbag to be ready for hunger pangs. If you have any doubt about any of the items, feel free to consult your doctor.

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