It's okay to give in to pregnancy cravings for comfort foods, but there are a few sneaky ways to skip some of the calories and fat.

ice cream cones
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Some pregnant women find that they can't get enough comfort foods -- meat loaf, macaroni and cheese, chicken soup, spaghetti and meatballs, mashed potatoes, homemade chocolate chip cookies. Maybe being pregnant reminds them of their own mothers and the foods they prepared. Or maybe pregnant women crave these foods because they provide security during an unsettling time. Whatever the reason, if you crave comfort foods, find ways to make them a healthful part of your pregnancy diet.

Smart substitutions are the key. For example, if you make meat loaf, use 93-percent lean ground beef or a mixture of beef and ground turkey or chicken breast. (If you use ground poultry, buy meat that is labeled as the ground breast of the bird. If your ground poultry contains dark meat from the legs or thighs, it can have more fat than very lean beef.) Mix in grated carrots, zucchini, or other vegetables and sprinkle some wheat germ into the mix too. Make macaroni and cheese with low-fat cheese, bake your meatballs instead of frying them, and prepare mashed potatoes with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of fresh Parmesan cheese rather than a big pat of butter and a spoonful of salt.

If you can't modify recipes, take small servings. Eating one or two homemade chocolate chip cookies is fine, but bingeing on a dozen of them is a no-no, no matter how comforting it might feel in the short term.

Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.

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