Pickles dipped in Kool-Aid powder. Fish paired with chocolate. French fries dipped in vinegar. Bottomless bowls of Fruit Loops inhaled. As soon as you tell someone you’re pregnant, people love to confess their weird pregnancy cravings! And maybe you, too, have noticed some strange hankerings lately. Foods that never crossed your mind before suddenly sound irresistible.  Like you, 50 to 90% of U.S. pregnancies have cravings too. We don’t have the complete story of why pregnancy food cravings happen, but researchers believe the physical and hormonal changes may be a driving force behind them.

Whether sweet, salty, or sour, cravings are strong urges that aren’t easy to ignore. Some food cravings may offer plenty of nutrients, and others very little. But in pregnancy, your body needs more of the good stuff (like protein, iron, and folate) to build your baby’s cells, blood, tissues, and organs. But there are nutrient-dense eats that allow you to honor those pregnancy cravings while still nourishing your growing bump. Read on for 25 healthy foods to treat those pregnancy tastebuds.

Sweet Pregnancy Cravings

Old wives' tales say you’re having a girl when you crave sweets! Sure, it would be nice if pining for pastries meant a future of bows and glitter; however, it’s just a myth. (See more old-school gender prediction traditions!)

While some may raid the fruit bowl when they want something sweet, others may opt for candy, cakes, and cookies, which are heavy on the sugar and light on nutrition. The problem with overdoing it on sweets, is that it makes it hard to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. This can up your risk of gestational diabetes. But balancing out sweet foods with ample protein, fiber, and healthy fats can help steady those levels. Here are a few options that can offer nutrients as they satisfy that sweet tooth:

  • Almonds and dried cherries  
  • Avocado chocolate pudding  
  • Mango spears sprinkled with crushed pistachios  
  • Roasted sweet potato with cinnamon and a dollop of Greek yogurt   
  • Air-fried cinnamon sugar chickpeas  
  • Blooberry Bar for 4th Trimester Support

(Related: Low-Carb Pregnancy Snacks for Gestational Diabetes)

Salty Pregnancy Cravings

Pickles, please! Sodium is an essential mineral all bodies need to function, and during pregnancy, sodium levels are lower, which can be normal. Some say a salt craving may mean your body is asking for more sodium, but science hasn’t yet confirmed this. During pregnancy, increases in calorie and nutrient needs may make your sense of taste and smell more sensitive, which could leave you reaching for the closest potato chip bag. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying some salty chips occasionally! Moderation is always key. A few healthy alternatives can give you the saltiness you’re after—while delivering extra nutrients to support your growing bump:

  • Pumpkin seeds + banana 
  • Mini whole-grain English muffin pizzas  
  • Dried pea crisps + hummus  
  • Dried seaweed + boiled eggs
  • Sautéed fried rice with chicken and edamame 

Fried Pregnancy Cravings

If you’re swinging through the drive-thru for that same order of curly fries, you may have a fried food craving. It’s no surprise that fried foods often contain heaps of calories and saturated fats, but that doesn’t mean they are entirely off-limits. Eating mindfully and staying in tune with your body’s cues can help you naturally eat what you need at that moment. To lessen the impact of fried eats, you can pair fried foods with nutrient-dense foods to help you create a better balance of nutrition. This may look like a few fried mozzarella sticks and marina sauce paired with a dark leafy Italian chopped salad. Here are other ways to swap out fried foods for more nutritious options:

  • Air-fried carrot or zucchini fries with salt, pepper, and paprika
  • Oven-fried pickles
  • Air-fried buffalo cauliflower bites
  • DIY baked sweet potato chips 
  • Baked popcorn chicken

Sour Pregnancy Cravings

Tanging, tart, or acidic tastes may tickle your tastebuds in pregnancy, and you may like pickles, lemon juice, or vinegar. There may be a reason your desire for these lip-puckering foods is on the rise, and it could be your body’s way of signaling you need more vitamin C. Some parents-to-be may feel sour foods help them through episodes of morning sickness, and here are a few ways to get a taste of those intense flavors:

  • Frozen passion fruit cubes
  • Pickled eggs or cabbage slaw
  • Side salad with apple cider vinegar dressing
  • Citrus fruit squeezed into water
  • Plain yogurt and balsamic vinegar 

Crunchy Pregnancy Cravings

If you’re hunting for something you can munch, you may crave crunchy foods. Thankfully, crunchy foods come in a wide variety, so you don’t have to settle for pretzels or cereal bars. Gift your body with nutrient-dense crispy snacks jam-packed with baby-nourishing nutrients to help your pregnancy thrive. Plus, instead of a spike in blood sugar levels and an energy crash that some crunchy foods offer (think: packaged choco-chip cookies), you can get crunch, satisfaction, and nutrients in one fell swoop with these foods.

  • Sugar snap peas and zesty yogurt dip
  • Spiced sliced cucumbers topped with bacon bits and cheese
  • Seed crackers with peanut butter
  • Dark chocolate and nut bark
  • Sliced apples and cottage cheese

Cold Pregnancy Cravings

Foods at low temps are a typical food craving for many pregnancies (especially if you’re rocking a bump in the sweltering summer), but loading up on calorie-rich milkshakes probably shouldn’t be an every-afternoon affair. Fortunately, there are plenty of tasty chilled options that also supply the nutrients your baby needs. While an every-so-often milkshake won’t break your pregnancy, you could try subbing in cold smoothies as well. Whipping up a cold tropical smoothie using mango, pineapples, bananas, and shredded coconut could be one way to go. (Psst! Try one of these pregnancy smoothie add-ins!) Here are a few more ways to meet that longing for something cool:

  • Frozen yogurt-covered grapes or blueberries
  • Cheese sticks 
  • Protein-rich ice cream
  • Greek yogurt bars
  • Veggie and tofu pasta salad

Non-Edible Pregnancy Cravings

While there’s no need to sweat even the most unusual food cravings, if you’re craving something that isn’t food—like your toddler’s Play-Doh or chalk—it’s time to see your medical provider. Pica is a condition in pregnancy that causes you to crave non-food items like ice chips, dirt, paint chips, clay, or charcoal. Typically, pica is your body’s way of communicating a nutrient deficiency. Often, a cause is iron deficiency anemia. Pica can be reversed, so you can speak with your doctor for help if you think you may have it.  

More on Pregnancy Nutrition:



  • Pickles and Ice Cream! Food Cravings in Pregnancy: Hypotheses, Preliminary Evidence, and Directions for Future Research, Frontiers in Psychology, September 2014
  • Nutritional and Clinical Associations of Food Cravings in Pregnancy, Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, June 2016
  • Handbook of Obstetric Medicine, Catherine Nelson-Piercy
  • The Biopsychology of Salt Hunger and Sodium Deficiency, Pflugers Archiv: European Journal of Physiology, March 2015
  • A Test of Four Evolutionary Hypotheses of Pregnancy Food Cravings: Evidence for the Social Bargaining Model, Royal Society Open Science, October 2017
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Eating Disorders

About Gabrielle McPherson

Gabrielle McPherson, MS, RDN, LDN is registered dietitian in Missouri who specializes in community and pediatric nutrition. Gaby is passionate about encouraging families to eat well in simple, practical ways that are realistic...and delicious! When not working, Gaby loves cooking, baking, and making messes and memories with her sous-chef/preschooler Charlotte.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.