Can I Eat Hot Chips or Spicy Chips When Pregnant?

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Written by Gina Wagg BA, Dip.

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Hot and spicy chips are a classic pregnancy craving. But is eating that bag of delicious spicy chips good for you?

Hot and spicy chips are safe in pregnancy but they can increase risk of indigestion and heartburn, particularly during the third trimester. They are also high in fat and salt and should be eaten in moderation.

Hot and spicy chips do not have side effects for your unborn baby.

Is there anything else you should worry about? Are there any benefits to eating them? Read on to find out!

Can You Eat Hot Chips During Pregnancy?

Spicy foods, including chips, are generally considered safe to eat during pregnancy. However, they might induce some unwanted side effects. 

But while this is the case, spicy chips like Doritos and Cheetos are calorie-dense, since they mostly contain carbs, fat (from frying), and salt. 

A 28 g serving of Hot Cheetos, for example, contains 10 g of fat and 300 mg of sodium (source: USDA), while the same serving of Doritos Spicy Nacho has 8 g of fat and 190 mg of sodium (source: Nutrition Value).

According to research, a high-fat diet during pregnancy not only increases the risk of increased maternal cholesterol level and weight gain, but it also puts the baby at risk for adverse central nervous system functions and behavioral changes (source: Nutrition Reviews). 

In the same way, too much salt during gestation can also affect the baby’s renal excretion and overall pathophysiological kidney functions (source: The Journal of Endocrinology).

For these reasons, we advise you to not eat them often and only in moderation.

Hot and spicy corn chips.

Moreover, during the third trimester of pregnancy, the uterus grows more than before, and this increases the pressure on the stomach and the intestine. This pressure builds and could drive your stomach contents back to the esophagus, which causes heartburn.

Because of this, the American Pregnancy Association recommends avoiding spicy foods, including hot and spicy chips (source: APA). Fried and spicy foods, such as hot chips, can also cause insomnia (source: APA). 

Fortunately, hot and spicy chips won’t hurt the unborn baby or cause blindness (source: University of Utah Health). 

If you look at the ingredients of hot chips, you’re likely to find chili pepper, chili powder, or other hot peppers. Peppers contain the compound capsaicin, which causes the hotness in peppers. 

According to a study, capsaicin helped prevent hyperglycemia, high insulin levels, and increased fasting lipids after a meal in women with gestational diabetes. The large-for-gestational-age (LGA) scores were also improved (source: Clinical Nutrition).

There is preliminary evidence that a mother’s flavor preferences and intake during pregnancy can affect her baby’s preferences via amniotic fluid. The evidence is consistent, but it is also limited at this time (source: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition). 

So there’s a chance that if you like hot and spicy chips during pregnancy, your baby might recognize and approve of these flavors when he or she is older.

flamin hot cheetos

What Does it Mean if I’m Craving Hot Chips?

Cravings for hot chips don’t seem to have any underlying meaning about your baby’s gender.

DailyMail UK published an article claiming that cravings for spicy foods during pregnancy might be related to having a boy. However, there is no scientific proof that this is the case.

Hormonal changes are the most probable cause for having food cravings during pregnancy (source: MedlinePlus). Others include:

  • What foods are available to the mother
  • Psychosocial distress
  • Exposure to harmful microbes 
  • Familial support 
  • Nutritional need

(source: Royal Society Open Science)

We hoped we answered your questions about eating hot chips during pregnancy!