The #1 Food To Eat in Your Third Trimester
One of my best friends is pregnant and our due dates are just one day apart. It has been so fun to be pregnant at the same time as her, even though she lives far, far away in London. We were talking on the phone a few weeks ago and she asked me if I knew anything about the benefits of eating dates during pregnancy.
And honestly, I didn’t know a thing about it! Have you ever heard of this? Since I was driving, I made her read me results from the studies she found online. I was skeptical at first. You hear so many things about what is good and bad in pregnancy that I’m at a point that I question everything.
The research on dates during pregnancy is actually really interesting and compelling! The only drawback is that there is not a TON of evidence. But the evidence that does exist is enough to make me eat dates every day these last few weeks before the baby comes.
What are the benefits of dates in pregnancy?
- Higher rates of spontaneous labor (vs. being induced)
- Higher cervical dilation upon admission to the hospital
- Shorter initial phase of labor (mean of 510 minutes vs. 906 minutes)
(For you research buffs, all of these findings were statistically significant with p<.05.)
How to incorporate dates in your pregnancy
I was frustrated with the articles because they did not make it easy to figure out the details. I’m thinking okay, I should eat dates, but what kind? Does it matter? How many? How often? When should I start? Based on the searching I did, here is what I found out:
- Eat dates daily, beginning at 36 weeks pregnant
- The type of date (i.e. medjool, deglet noor, fresh vs. dried, etc.) does not seem to matter
- Eat 4-6 dates a day depending on the size – this should be about 60-70 grams worth. I recommend weighing your dates if you have a food scale so you can figure out how much you should have.
What are the risks or downsides?
I really could not find any reason why you should not eat dates during pregnancy, as long as you don’t have diabetes (since they are high in sugar).
So far, in my experience, the hardest part is just finding different ways to eat them. I like dates, but eating several every single day gets a little challenging. Sometimes they taste too sweet, sometimes I just rather eat something else. But if they really do contribute to quicker and easier labor, it’s totally worth it to fight through and eat them. Because honestly, I can think of MUCH WORSE foods to force myself to eat every day!
Why do dates contribute to better labor outcomes?
Researchers believe that eating dates contributes to the process of cervical ripening. Cervical ripening is a collective term for dilatation, effacement, position, and consistency, and fetal station in vaginal examination. If you’ve never been pregnant, these words might mean nothing to you! I know that before I had kids I would have been like, “huh?”
Basically, dates appear to help the body’s natural process of preparing the uterus and cervix to be ready for labor and delivery.
How to Eat Dates Without Getting Bored
Since dates are so sweet and have a neutral taste, they are so versatile. You can always eat them plain by themselves, but that really does get boring pretty quickly. My favorite quick ways to eat them are:
- Stuffed with salted cashews
- Stuffed with any type of nut butter
- On top of a Nut Thins cracker
- Blended into any smoothie
And, there are SO MANY healthy and delicious recipes that use dates to help you get to that 60-70 grams per day at the end of your pregnancy. I asked my blogger friends to share their favorite date recipes with you. I have compiled an awesome list with their favorites that will give you ideas for anytime of day, for any type of craving you might have!
- Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins (from C It Nutritionally)
- Vegan Carrot Cake Quinoa Bars (from Byte Sized Nutrition)
- Date Coffee Cake Yogurt Muffins with Cinnamon Streusel (from The Gourmet RD)
- Yogurt Parfait on a Plate (from Mom’s Kitchen Handbook)
Even more ideas:
- Three Ingredient Date Sweetened Granola (from Healthy Helper)
- Crunchy, Golden Coconut Cashew Granola (from Nutri Savvy Health)
- Cacao Date Smoothie (from The Spicy RD)
- Pumpkin Spice Almond Milk (from Crunchy Kat)
- Healthy No Sugar Added Blueberry Muffins (from A Joyfully Mad Kitchen) – these look great for toddlers!
- Prosciutto Wrapped Dates with Manchego Filling & Wine Glaze (from Abbey’s Kitchen) – if pregnant, make sure the prosciutto is thoroughly heated before eating
- Seared Halloumi and Pomegranate Salad (from We Are Not Martha)
- Moroccan Kamut and Chickpea Salad (from Andrea Docherty Nutrition)
Even more ideas:
- Celery Salad with Hazelnuts, Dates, and Pecorino (from Mom’s Kitchen Handbook)
- Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese (from Art From My Table)
- Bourbon Orange Chicken Wings (from Wellness by Kristen)
- Mini Nice Cream Snickers Bars (from Byte Sized Nutrition)
- Healthy Pumpkin Pie (from Skinny Fitalicious)
- Black Bean Brownie Bites (from Eat Real Live Well)
Even more ideas:
- Pumpkin Spice Twix (from Love Me, Feed Me)
- Healthy Pie Crust (from Snacking in Sneakers)
- Luscious Date Avocado Chocolate Truffles (from The Delicious Crescent)
- No Bake Turtle Walnut Brownies (from Simple and Savory)
Energy Bites, Balls, and Bars
- Medjool Date Apple Oat Bars (from Fit Mitten Kitchen)
- No Bake Chocolate Covered Almond Date Protein Bars (from Macrobalanced)
Even more ideas:
- Puffed Rice & Seed Bars (from Nourished by Nutrition)
- Chocolate Cherry Energy Bites (from Snacking in Sneakers)
- Chocolate Coconut Copycat Bars (from Mom’s Kitchen Handbook)
- Easy Chocolate Almond Truffles (from Marisa Moore Nutrition)
- Nutty Date Squares (from Greens & Grains Nutrition)
- No Bake Cashew Snack Bites (from Nutritious Vida)
- Coconut Matcha Bites (from Crunchy Kat)