Can You Eat Hot Cheetos When Pregnant? A Dietitian Answers

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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You are not alone if you are wondering whether you can eat the popular spicy snack Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Some worry about the colorings and additives, and others worry about the spiciness. Should this be a concern during pregnancy?

Hot Cheetos are safe during pregnancy but they’re high in fat, calories, and sodium. Consume them in moderation and swap them out with lower sodium options, such as whole wheat crackers.

However, there is more information you’ll want to know about it that you can keep in mind during your pregnancy. Read on to learn more! 

Can You Eat Hot Cheetos During Pregnancy? Is it Safe?

Hot Cheetos, also known as Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, are completely safe to consume during pregnancy. However, they are high in fat, sodium, and calories. Therefore, they should be consumed in moderation.

Whether you are worried about the spice level, the cheese flavoring, or any other ingredients, let’s talk about some of the key points related to consuming it during pregnancy. 

flamin hot cheetos

Pregnancy Side Effects of the Spice in Hot Cheetos

For pregnant women, spicy foods can worsen indigestion and heartburn, especially in the second and third trimesters (source: Indian Journal of Gastroenterology). If you find spicy foods affect you in this way, it is best to avoid them during pregnancy.

Additionally, consuming very large amounts of Hot Cheetos can cause your poop to look red (source: Children’s MD). 

Of course, this can be especially concerning for pregnant women. However, keep this in mind if you have recently consumed many kinds of foods containing red or orange coloring, such as Hot Cheetos.

Some sources rank Flamin’ Hot Cheetos as 50,000 units on the Scoville scale, a measurement of the spiciness of chilis (source: Mashed). For reference, Carolina Reaper peppers can have over two million Scoville heat units. 

However, if you are not used to spicy foods, it may seem very spicy to you! Even for individuals who are not pregnant, consuming excessive amounts of spicy foods can cause abdominal discomfort or even abdominal pain (source: University of Chicago Medicine).

For more information on consuming spicy foods during pregnancy, check out this article here. In short, eating hot and spicy food may cause you discomfort, but it’s not harmful to your baby.  

Are the Ingredients in Hot Cheetos Safe When Pregnant?

Hot Cheetos are a corn snack that contains vegetable oil, seasoning, cheddar cheese flavor, and more. These ingredients are safe during pregnancy in small amounts. 

The “Flamin’ Hot Seasoning” contains monosodium glutamate, or MSG, which many pregnant women are concerned about. However, MSG is “Generally Recognized as Safe,” which includes safety for pregnant women (source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA]). 

It contains a variety of other flavorings, including a cheddar cheese flavor powder composed of milk, cheese cultures, salt, and enzymes. While high in sodium, this processed cheese is safe to consume during pregnancy. 

Additionally, Hot Cheetos contain food coloring, including Red 40 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 6, and Yellow 5. Food dyes and colorings are certified by the FDA and are considered safe unless you have an allergy (source: FDA). 

If you want to learn more about food dye and coloring during pregnancy, you’ll need this article here.

Are Hot Cheetos Bad for Pregnant Women? 

While not unsafe, Hot Cheetos are high in calories, sodium, and fat. For example, in one serving, it has 170 calories, 11 grams of fat, and 250 milligrams of sodium. 

For reference, the American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 2,500 milligrams of sodium daily, however, consuming no more than 1,500 milligrams is ideal. 

Though a serving is just 21 pieces, or 28 grams, of Hot Cheetos, the problem is that many find it extremely difficult to stick with one serving in a sitting. Instead, try to portion out your Hot Cheetos ahead of time or purchase individual serving packages to control your portion sizes. 

flamin hot cheetos

What Does Craving Cheetos Mean During Pregnancy?

Suppose you are craving Hot Cheetos, whether for the spice level, crunch, or saltiness, there is no need to worry. Food cravings during pregnancy are very normal and are not a cause for alarm.

Sometimes food cravings can indicate that your body is missing a particular nutrient, such as craving meat when you are low in protein. However, many cravings simply result from the many hormonal changes and imbalances that occur during pregnancy. 

It’s also possible that you’re actually craving salt, in which case refer to our guide on salt cravings when pregnant, too.

Rather than restricting yourself, if you are craving Hot Cheetos, feel free to satisfy these cravings in moderation. If a single serving is not enough, try satisfying your cravings with whole wheat crackers or crunchy vegetables that have been thoroughly washed.

I hope you found this article helpful in breaking down the facts regarding Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.