Healthy Ways to Satisfy Your Pregnancy Food Cravings

Give your diet a make-over with these delicious substitutions. All you want to eat are French fries, candy, milkshakes, and sushi? Being pregnant and finding healthy ways to satisfy your hunger can be difficult. Spice up your diet (and stay on the healthy track) with these fun and tasty ideas to satisfy those pregnancy cravings!


Healthier Choice: Raw fish is a no-no for pregnant women. Instead, try a spicy shrimp roll or a California roll. These tasty treats are made with cooked shrimp or crabmeat and are much safer alternatives for moms-to-be.

Why It’s Better: The March of Dimes recommends skipping the raw bar entirely until after your baby is born. These alternatives are delicious, low in mercury, and safe to eat during your pregnancy when cooked completely.

Alcoholic Beverages

Healthier Choice: Instead of ordering wine or a cocktail, ask for cranberry juice with sparkling lemonade or mineral water, and add a sprig of mint. Or, if you’re feeling courageous, ask your bartender to whip you up a mocktail. Get your virgin cocktail in a martini glass for added fun.

Why It’s Better: The truth is, no one knows exactly how much alcohol a pregnant woman can consume safely. What is known is that drinking during pregnancy can cause physical and mental birth defects. Most severe is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). People born with FAS suffer from problems such growth deficiencies, facial deformities, and learning disabilities. According to the March of Dimes, FAS is one of the most common known causes of mental retardation.

Soft Cheeses

Healthier Choice: Shop for soft cheeses (such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined cheeses, and queso fresco or queso blanco) made with pasteurized milk and you should be fine.

Why It’s Better: Soft cheeses are usually made from unpasteurized milk and put you at risk for becoming infected with bacteria known as listeria. Most people will not develop listeriosis, but the infection is dangerous for expectant women. Your best bet is to seek out our alternative … or you can heat these cheeses until they’re bubbly hot to kill any bacteria.

Ice Cream Sundaes

Healthier Choice: Try nonfat regular or frozen yogurt instead of ice cream to satisfy this craving. Add granola, fruit, and nuts for extra pizzazz.

Why It’s Better: Yogurt has more protein, minerals, and nutrients than ice cream; plus it will meet your calcium needs without the added calories (and it is delicious!). If you want something one-step better, opt for regular yogurt instead of frozen; you’ll get nearly twice as much calcium per serving.

Egg Nog

Healthier Choice: Pour yourself a cup of homemade eggnog … just make sure it is made from a pasteurized egg product (like Egg Beaters) or a soy nog (found during the holidays at health food stores).

Why It’s Better: Listeria may lurk in that egg-y cocktail, plus it is best to cut out all alcohol during your pregnancy. This healthy alternative offers the taste of egg nog, without all the added dangers.

Potato Chips

Healthier Choice: Pass on that bag of chips next time you’re at the market and instead reach for popcorn or whole wheat pretzels.

Why It’s Better: Potato chips are high in trans fats and oils. Choose air-popped popcorn (sprinkle with herbs, Parmesan cheese, or lightly dust with salt) or low-sodium, whole wheat pretzels. These healthier choices will still satisfy your need to crunch on something salty, without adding calories or fats/oils.

Cake, Pie, Muffins, and Cookies

Healthier Choice: Is the corner bakery calling to you? Enjoy a visit, but seek out a slice of fruit or vegetable bread, such as banana, pumpkin, carrot, or zucchini.

Why It’s Better: Choosing (or making your own!) fruit or vegetable bread over other baked goods will satisfy your craving and offer you more vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Generally speaking, these breads are made with less fat and sugar, so you won’t pile on as much fat and calories.

Sour Cream Dips

Healthier Choice: Sour cream is loaded with fat and calories. If you’re aching to dip those sweet potato fries into a tub of sour cream dip, instead try making a tasty dip with lowfat cottage cheese whipped smooth in a blender, or replace half the sour cream in your dip recipe with plain yogurt.

Why It’s Better: Yogurt and cultured cottage cheese (like Nancy’s, found at health food stores) have more calcium and protein, and considerably fewer calories, when compared with low- and non-fat sour cream.

Soft Drinks

Healthier Choice: When cruising for something cool and bubbly to drink, pass on the soda and pour yourself a sparkling mineral water mixed with juice. Drop in a lemon or lime wedge for added flavor, or look for sparkling lemonade or fruit juice.

Why It’s Better: Sodas are very high in sugar, and most colas are also loaded with caffeine. Diet varieties may also be hiding artificial sweeteners.

Fast Food French Fries

Healthier Choice: Oh, watch out for that drive thru! Instead, head home and make a plate of sweet potato fries.

Why It’s Better: Heavy on fat and oils, restaurant French fries are a bad idea, pregnant or not, plus they do little to help you reach your nutritional needs. Instead, chop a sweet potato into ½-inch fingers, drizzle light vegetable oil on a pan, and spread out the fries. Bake until your desired crispness, sprinkle lightly with salt, and snack away!

Milk Shake

Healthier Choice: To satisfy a milk shake craving, instead try a rich and creamy fruit smoothie.

Why It’s Better: Milk shakes are loaded with sugar, fat, and empty calories. Our fruit smoothie alternative will give you the vitamins and minerals inherent in fruit, and less fat and calories. If you’re looking for an extra creamy treat, add yogurt to your smoothie for more protein and calcium.


Healthier Choice: Take your hand out of that candy dish! Instead reach for a bag of dried fruit or choose a couple squares of chocolate (the darker, the better).

Why It’s Better: Avoiding candy means avoiding empty calories and tons of processed sugar. Yes, dried fruit contains natural sugars, but it also contains fiber and minerals. And if chocolate is what you’re after, go for a bar of dark chocolate. In 2004, Finnish scientists published a report in the New Scientist stating that eating chocolate during pregnancy may make for happier, livelier babies. Another report, headed by Dr. Mary Engler, PhD, RN, of the University of California, found that eating a small, 1.6-ounce bar of dark chocolate every day is good for you (due to the amount of flavonoids; the darker the chocolate, the more flavonoids).

A Juicy, Rare Hamburger

Healthier Choice: Pass on the rare burger and instead order it well-done. Looking for healthier condiments, too? Try salsa and avocado for a tasty combo.

Why It’s Best: Eating undercooked meats (rare steak, burgers, pork chops, or anything described as “carpaccio” or “tartare”) is not advisable during pregnancy. (Listeria may lurk in these undercooked meats.) However, (well-cooked!) meat is one of the best sources of protein and iron, and is a craving that’s fine to enjoy during your pregnancy.

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