Maternal Nutrition header

Food cravings are almost synonymous with pregnancy. While you might not have a taste for anything unusual, chances are that you'll have some type of craving during your pregnancy. In fact, up to 85% of moms-to-be experience at least one craving.1 Most often cravings — or food aversions — are due to the changing hormones in your body while you're expecting. The most common pregnancy cravings are for sweet, salty, or sour foods.

Some pregnancy food cravings can undermine your healthy eating habits, but it’s possible to satisfy your cravings and still give yourself the nutrition needed for your baby’s development. If you’re craving something that’s high in calories, fat, or sugar, look for a substitute that satisfies with fewer calories and less fat.

If you're craving:

Try this instead:

A chocolate bar Chocolate yogurt, a single-serving frozen fudge pop, or a Zone Perfect® bar
Jelly beans Trail mix made with grain, cereal, dried fruit, and nuts
Potato chips Air-popped popcorn or rice cakes
Donuts Whole grain carbs, such as a whole-grain English muffin or low-fat cinnamon muffin


Dealing with food aversions during pregnancy

You also might develop aversions to certain foods while pregnant, including nutritious foods that you and your baby might need for good health. If some of your favorite healthy foods seem unappealing, try these substitutions:

If you have
an aversion to:

Try this instead:

Meat Other protein sources, such as low-fat yogurt, low-fat milk, low-fat cheeses, beans, nuts, or tofu
Any kind of protein Incorporating or disguising protein in a casserole or stir-fry with a flavorful sauce
Dark green leafy vegetables Beta-carotene-rich fruits, such as peaches, apricots, or tropical fruits


In addition to these healthier food substitutions, try adopting the following healthy eating habits for the duration of your pregnancy:

  • Eat more frequent mini-meals and snacks instead of full meals. Being less hungry can help curb cravings.
  • Begin with a balanced breakfast that incorporates at least one whole grain and one fruit. Skipping meals can increase food cravings later in the day.
  • Work with your cravings instead of fighting them. Indulge in moderation. A small serving of the food you’re craving might curb the desire to binge.
  • Maintain regular exercise (with your doctor’s approval). Exercise is shown to help reduce cravings.

1Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy: The Complete Guide to Eating Before, During and After Your Pregnancy, 2e, Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D., 2002. 133-134.


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