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Craving McDonald's While Pregnant (Why Does It Happen?)

Craving McDonald’s While Pregnant (Why Does It Happen?)

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Pregnancy can bring on some wild cravings, and just seeing the golden arches can leave you salivating for what’s inside. But should you really be eating McDonald’s while pregnant?

Many of the ingredients in McDonald’s foods are processed and pasteurized, meaning they are safe to eat while pregnant. You should, however, avoid eating the salad as you do run the risk of being exposed to the listeria bacteria if the produce is not washed correctly. No matter what indulgences you choose, they should be part of a balanced diet.

McDonald’s has a large and varied menu, so keep reading below to find out the best and worst things you can order while pregnant.

Is it normal to crave McDonald’s while pregnant?

The cravings women experience during pregnancy run the gamut of the taste spectrum!

A craving for fast food, McDonald’s in particular, is not uncommon at all. Even when not pregnant, the desire to pull over and grab a quick burger from a fast-food restaurant can be almost irresistible. The key is the same with most things: moderation.

Science is not entirely sure why women develop such specific cravings.

Here are a few things researchers believe play a role in the cravings:

  • Hormones
  • Increased sense of taste and smell
  • The body compensating for lack of vitamins and minerals

With its vast menu, McDonald’s can check off the box for a lot of pregnancy cravings. A strong desire for burgers, fries, and shakes may be your body’s way of letting you know it needs to top off on a few vitamins and minerals:

  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Protein

Is McDonald’s safe to eat during pregnancy?

It is estimated that you will need around 300 extra calories a day for most of your pregnancy.

Many of the menu items at McDonald’s are safe to eat, but that doesn’t mean they will be good for you and your baby. While McDonald’s can provide you with the extra calories, they will not give you the nutritional value you need.

Throughout pregnancy, you will need extra calories; after all, you are eating for two! But, it’s important to moderate and not overindulge.

Generally, it would be best if you aimed for:

  • 1800 calories per day in the first trimester
  • 2200 calories per day in the second trimester
  • 2400 calories per day in the third trimester

While giving in to the occasional golden arch craving is okay, making it the mainstay of your diet isn’t a good idea. Below are the servings per day you need from different food groups. And while McDonald’s will undoubtedly provide you with plenty of calories and fats, you won’t get these other vitally important nutrients.

Nutritional Requirements During Pregnancy

Food GroupServings per DayEssential Vitamins and Minerals
Bread & Pasta10Folic acid
Vegetables5Vitamin A
Vitamin C
Folic acid
Fruit4Vitamin A
Vitamin C
Meat/Nut/Beans3Vitamin B

Will eating fast food while pregnant hurt the baby?

The occasional order of fast food to squash those junk food cravings will be ok. But making it the central part of your diet can negatively affect you and your baby.

Without the proper diet to get the vital vitamins and minerals you and your baby need, you could potentially see several problems develop:

  • Unhealthy weight gain
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Anemia
  • Increased infection risk
  • Premature birth
  • Low baby birth-weight

What is the healthiest thing to eat at McDonald’s while pregnant?

So you are going to go crazy if you don’t get some delicious McDonald’s right away! At the moment, it’s not a question of if you should, so much as it is what are you going to order?

Here are four items you can grab at McDonald’s that won’t leave you feeling too guilty:

  1. A single-patty hamburger with a slice of cheese is going to be around 300 calories. And with only 8 grams of fat and 12 grams of protein, you can eat up and not feel guilty.
  2. A bowl of McDonald’s oatmeal can provide expectant moms with protein, calcium, and fiber. To avoid any listeria bacteria contamination, be sure to request no fruit be added.
  3. The classic Egg McMuffin may not seem like an obvious choice for an okay pregnancy craving fix, but it can be! If you get your Egg McMuffin without margarine or bacon, you will reduce the meal’s salt and fat content.
  4. If you absolutely have to have some McDonald’s fries, go for the small size (with 220 calories and 180mg of Sodium). If you want to make yourself feel a bit better about giving in to your fast food craving, you can always ask for no salt on your fries.

Again the key to any meal or dietary plan while pregnant is moderation.

If you have any questions or concerns if an item is safe for you and your pregnancy, please check with your doctor first!

What are the worst things to eat at McDonald’s while pregnant?

McDonald’s, or any fast food restaurant, is going to be best avoided while pregnant.

While it is okay to give in on occasion to your fast food desires, there are a few items you should flat out avoid:

  1. We all love them, but you need to pass on the sauces. Sauces are often extremely high in sodium and only provide empty calories. There is no nutritional benefit in adding them.
  2. Whether you call it soda or pop, avoid these carbonated sugary drinks . Between the insane amounts of sugar and caffeine these drinks have in them, it’s best to avoid them altogether.
  3. Another item on the no-go list is the Chicken McNuggets. Sorry, I know they are delicious, but they are also loaded with empty calories, fat, and salt.
  4. Salads at McDonald’s and other fast foods restaurants should be avoided while you are pregnant. There is a risk of being exposed to the listeria bacteria. Listeriosis occurs nearly 10-times more in pregnant women than in the general population. It can be treated, but there is a risk of congenital disabilities or even infant death.

Craving McDonald’s breakfast while pregnant

Unfortunately, the world doesn’t stop or slow down when you’re pregnant. There will still be mornings you’re rushing out the door without grabbing a healthy breakfast first. There are some options at McDonald’s you can grab to tide you over till you can grab a healthy lunch!

Here is a list of items that are safe to eat for breakfast (occasionally) while pregnant:

  1. Hash browns are a quick and easy choice for breakfast. With 14-percent of the daily recommended amount of sodium, they will scratch the itch for a salty snack in the morning.
  2. A breakfast staple for many, pancakes are another safe choice while pregnant. But, at nearly 600 calories a serving, you should skip the butter and syrup.
  3. If you pass on the cheese and bacon, an Egg McMuffin can make for a decent breakfast choice while pregnant. At 210 calories, the occasional McMuffin can see you through your busy morning.
  4. Your best choice nutritionally for a McDonald’s breakfast item is going to be plain oatmeal. Full of protein, calcium, and fiber, oatmeal is among the best things to get at McDonald’s while pregnant.

Craving McDonald’s ice cream and milkshakes while pregnant

McDonald’s ice cream and shakes are delicious and can be incredibly tempting (if you can find a working ice cream machine!), but you should resist them.

McDonald’s ice cream ingredients and milkshakes are pasteurized, so they are safe to eat while pregnant. The problem with the delicious treats is the way they are prepared, or more accurately, the equipment used to prepare them. 

Listeria can survive inside of the machines used to make McDonald’s ice cream and milkshakes. Restaurants of all types are held to strict laws and regulations regarding cleanliness.

Still, unless the machine is undergoing a thorough daily cleaning, you won’t be able to guarantee your frosty treats will be listeria-free. So, unfortunately, you need to take a pass on ice cream and milkshakes while pregnant.

What does it mean if you crave McDonald’s while pregnant?

If you’re craving salty fries or a delicious burger from McDonald’s while you’re pregnant, you’re not alone. In America, we are almost hard-wired nowadays to crave sweets and salty junk food. Your cravings for McDonald’s could simply be great advertising on their part!

Your craving for salty fries or a juicy burger may be that your body is trying to tell you something. It is thought that certain cravings women get while pregnant could be indications that they are missing essential vitamins and minerals they need.

Your wild cravings may be your body’s way of building back up its supply of protein, sodium, calcium, etc. If your cravings become severe or unusual, let your doctor know.

Does craving McDonald’s while pregnant mean it’s a boy or girl?

There are a lot of old wives’ tales when it comes to pregnancy. For example, if you want sweets, you’re going to have a girl! Or if you’re craving meats, you can expect a little boy!

Unfortunately, none of the old wives’ tales are actually true.

If you want to learn more, I have a HUGE list of the most common pregnancy cravings just for you!

Joshua Bartlett
Joshua Bartlett

My name is Joshua Bartlett I run this blog with my wife Jarah. We have more than 11 years of parenting experience including three girls and one boy. I started this blog in late 2018 when I realized that I was dealing with baby-related issues on a constant basis…please read more about me here!

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