Eating Fries During Pregnancy: French Fries + More

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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French fries are a popular side dish around the world, whether paired with a burger, sandwich, or eaten on their own. But can you eat this beloved food while you are pregnant? 

French fries are safe during pregnancy. However, they are high in fat, calories, and sodium and should only be eaten in moderation. 

In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of eating French fries, how to prepare healthy fries, and more! 

Can Pregnant Women Eat French Fries? 

From a safety perspective, French fries are completely fine for a pregnant woman to eat. 

pregnant woman holding a bowl of french fries

However, because of the nutritional considerations of eating French fries, they should only be eaten in moderation, especially if they are frozen from the grocery store or are purchased deep-fried from a restaurant or a fast food establishment.

The Pros and Cons of Eating Fries When Pregnant

Let’s begin by discussing one thing that is common to all French fries: potatoes. Whether flavored and seasoned, spiraled, thick-cut, deep-fried, air-fried, or oven-baked, potatoes are the main ingredient. 

Potatoes are a great source of carbohydrates and also provide some protein, vitamins, and minerals, such as B vitamins. Sweet potato also provides vitamin A and other beneficial vitamins and minerals. 

However, the preparation method also plays a significant role in the nutritional composition. French fries that are deep-fried in oil are higher in calories and fat, while those made with oven-baked and air-fried cooking methods are lower.

Most French fries are also high in sodium, especially when made in a fast food restaurant.

sweet potato fries with dipping sauce

Let’s break down the calories, sodium, and fat content of the most common types of French fries (source: United States Department of Agriculture [USDA]).

Type of FriesCalories (kcal) per 100 gramsSodium (mg) per 100 gramsTotal Fat (g) per 100 grams
Classic French Fries1291762.35
Curly Fries1763069.41
Seasoned Fries1903699.52
Steak Thick-Cut Fries1291652.35
Sweet Potato Fries1532824.71

For reference, the American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. 

Make your French fries at home using regular or sweet potato for a healthy option. Slice the potatoes how you prefer, then lightly coat them in olive oil and bake in the oven or air-fryer.

Only add a small amount of salt to reduce your sodium intake. To increase the flavor without salt, use sodium-free seasonings, such as garlic powder, onion powder, or paprika. 

I’m Craving Fries During Pregnancy: Is This Normal? 

Food cravings during pregnancy are very common and normal. They are nothing to worry or panic about as long as you are not craving anything unsafe. In fact, it is estimated that 50 to 90 percent of pregnant women experience food cravings. 

french fries in a bowl

As for why pregnancy cravings occur, there are many hypotheses currently being studied. Besides cultural factors, many researchers believe that nutritional deficiencies can contribute to specific cravings (source: Frontiers in Psychology).

Therefore, craving potatoes in French fries might indicate that you are low in carbohydrates or some B vitamins. 

Additionally, researchers believe that hormonal shifts during pregnancy can play a role in food cravings (source: Frontiers in Psychology). It is well-established that there are sensory alterations during pregnancy, so these changes may also cause changes in food preferences. 

Regardless of the exact cause of your craving for French fries, you can satisfy it safely and healthfully by eating them in moderation. 

Additionally, you could make your French fries healthier by making your own baked French fries at home. Limit the amount of oil and salt that you use and serve them with a lean protein, a piece of fruit, and some vegetables paired with a glass of pasteurized low-fat dairy products for a nutritious and balanced meal. 

I hope this article helped clarify how to healthfully incorporate French fries into your balanced diet during pregnancy.