Feature Archive

Coping With Pregnancy Food Cravings

Do food cravings threaten to derail good nutrition during your pregnancy? Here's how to stay on track.

By Elizabeth Ward
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Charlotte Grayson

For many women, powerful food cravings for certain foods come with the territory during pregnancy. You've probably heard tales of loved ones being dispatched at all hours to search for a certain brand of bacon double cheeseburger or rocky road ice cream to quell an expectant mom's desire. Perhaps you've felt an overwhelming urge to splurge firsthand.

Truth is, nobody is sure why some women have pregnancy food cravings. "Some experts say cravings, and their flip side, food aversions, are protective, even if there is no scientific data to back up that theory," says Siobhan Dolan, MD, assistant medical director of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology and women's health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

For example, you may not feel like drinking alcohol when pregnant, which is beneficial since avoiding beer, wine, and other spirits fosters your baby's mental and physical development.

Others think a pregnant woman's preference for certain foods such as salt-laden potato chips is nature's way of helping her meet her daily sodium quota. However, it's highly unlikely that cells translate so-called nutrient shortfalls into food cravings. Longing for a particular food tends to distinguish pregnancy food cravings from cravings women have when they are not expecting.