Eating Chips during Pregnancy: Is It Safe?

Is Eating Chips Safe During Pregnancy?

Cravings during pregnancy can be intense, leading you to yearn for chips in a multitude of flavors. The allure of indulging while lounging on your couch with a favorite movie can be strong. However, eating potato chips during pregnancy is discouraged due to potential complications that may pose irreversible risks to your unborn child. Consuming chips can contribute to excessive weight gain, high blood pressure, and gestational diabetes, jeopardizing both maternal and fetal health. Additionally, the high sodium content in chips may lead to fluid retention, further exacerbating these risks. Opting for healthier snack alternatives can better support a safe and complication-free pregnancy.

Can You Eat Chips During Pregnancy?

The ideal answer to this question is “no” for a variety of reasons. However, there are specific cases in which eating chips might be allowed, but that too, in the absolute minimum amount. If you are sure you can let go of them if there are health issues, you can have a few, but only the ones that are prepared at home with clean potatoes under hygienic conditions, and are fried in good-quality oil. In all cases, women are highly advised to stay away from chips until they complete the first trimester of pregnancy, the reasons for which we will explain in the article below.

Nutritional Value of Chips

While chips generally boast high fat and calorie content, they also offer essential nutrients beneficial during pregnancy, including fiber, iron, potassium, and magnesium.

Nevertheless, moderation is key when incorporating chips into your diet due to their potential high sodium and other less-than-ideal ingredients. Prior to the consumption of chips for pregnant women, it’s advisable to scrutinize the nutrition label for a comprehensive understanding.

For a healthier snacking option, consider alternatives like baked chips or popcorn. These choices are lower in both fat and calories while still providing essential nutrients, offering a balanced approach for women who are craving chips during pregnancy.

Why Is Eating Chips During Pregnancy Harmful?

Chips are not a healthy treat during pregnancy for a variety of reasons. Let’s take a look at some of them.

  • Ready-made chips have only 30% actual potatoes. The rest of the ingredients have starch and synthetic additives that are used to enhance the flavour and longevity of the chips. These additives are not at all healthy for the mother-to-be and the little baby growing inside her.
  • Chips available in the market are made in large quantities, and the methods used to make them are not conducive to healthy consumption. Most chips are deep-fried at high temperatures in the same oil, which effectively removes nutrients if any, and also leads to unhealthy ingredients sticking to them.
  • When consumed in excess, the vegetable oil used to fry chips can lead to the accumulation of fats in the body, which further affects the heart and leads to an increase in the levels of cholesterol, further leading to weight gain.
  • Some of the chips also contain traces of a carcinogenic substance, which can directly reach the DNA and begin destroying its structure.

Swelling in legs

  • Ready-made or packaged chips undergo processing and preparation cycles, where saturated salts, flavours and additives are added. Consuming salty chips disturbs the regulated levels of water and minerals in the body. This consequently will worsen the swelling in the legs and increase the blood pressure.
  • Chips can also lead to heartburn, gases, and unwanted gastric activity, causing quite a havoc in the body. These conditions could worsen at times and lead to a miscarriage.
  • Extra amounts of fat put a lot of load on the kidneys and the other organs that are already working double-time to support the baby.
  • The high glycemic index of chips can lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, increasing the risk of gestational diabetes. This condition poses health risks for both the mother and the unborn child.

The points mentioned above are some of the major health issues eating chips can give rise to. Now that you know how eating chips can affect the would-be mother’s health let’s also find out if it can affect the baby’s health too.

Alternative Chips to Consume During Pregnancy

When it comes to satisfying those snack cravings of eating chips in pregnancy, choosing healthier alternatives to traditional chips is a wise move. Not only can these alternatives provide the desired crunch, but they also offer nutritional benefits that support the well-being of both the expectant mother and the baby.

1. Sweet Potato Chips

Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins and minerals, and when sliced and baked, they make a delicious and nutrient-packed alternative to traditional potato chips. They offer natural sweetness and are a good source of fiber and vitamin A.

2. Kale Chips

Kale is a nutritional powerhouse, and when turned into chips, it becomes a crunchy and vitamin-rich snack. Kale is high in folate, iron, and calcium, essential nutrients for fetal development and overall maternal health.

3. Banana Chips

Opting for dehydrated or baked banana chips can satisfy sweet cravings without the need for added sugars. Bananas are a good source of potassium, which can help regulate blood pressure—a crucial consideration during pregnancy.

4. Whole Grain Pita Chips

Choosing whole grain pita chips provides a fiber boost, aiding in digestion and promoting a feeling of fullness. Pair them with a healthy dip for a tasty and satisfying snack that contributes to a balanced diet during pregnancy.

How Does Eating Chips During Pregnancy Affect Foetal Health?

Eating chips during pregnancy does affect the health of the little one growing inside your womb. Several varieties of chips are known to contain acrylamide, which is a potent carcinogen. Acrylamide can disrupt the formation of the existing DNA, that leads to the child being underweight and have an abnormal size of the head. This can further result in behavioural conditions, birth defects, and developmental delays later in the baby.

Tips for Making Chips a Healthier Snack Option During Pregnancy

By implementing a few modifications, you can transform chips into a more nutritionally balanced and enjoyable snack during this crucial period of your life.

1. Opt for Baked or Homemade Chips

Choose baked chips or make your own at home using healthier cooking methods. Baking reduces the fat content, making the chips a lighter alternative while still offering the satisfying crunch.

2. Select Whole Grain Chips

Look for chips made from whole grains, such as whole wheat or brown rice. Whole grains provide essential nutrients like fiber, which supports digestive health and helps manage weight gain during pregnancy.

3. Mindful Portion Control

Be conscious of portion sizes to avoid excessive calorie intake. Pre-portioning your chips in smaller containers can help regulate consumption, preventing overindulgence.

4. Pair With Nutrient-Rich Dips

Instead of high-calorie and sugary dips, choose nutrient-rich alternatives like salsa, guacamole, or Greek yogurt. These options add flavor without compromising on nutritional value, offering additional vitamins and minerals beneficial for both you and your baby.

Should You Consult Your Healthcare Provider Before Eating Chips While Pregnant?

Absolutely, consulting your healthcare provider before making any significant dietary changes, including the consumption of chips, is highly advisable during pregnancy. Your healthcare provider can provide personalized guidance based on your health status and any specific concerns, ensuring the well-being of both you and your unborn child.

Chips can be too hard to resist, especially when the cravings are too strong. But, it is necessary to understand that your baby’s safety has to be the number one priority. Therefore, eating chips during the first trimester is best avoided. Once you have a healthy baby in your hands, you can go back to enjoying chips, but in moderation, because anything in excess is never good for your health.

References/Resources:

1. Dong. D, Bilger. M, Van Dam. R, Finkelstein. E; Consumption Of Specific Foods And Beverages And Excess Weight Gain Among Children And Adolescents; National Library of Medicine; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26526253/; November 2015

2. Mozaffarian. D, Hao. T, Rimm. E, Willett. W, Hu. F; Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Women and Men (The New England Journal of Medicine); National Library of Medicine; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3151731/; June 2011

3. Mohammed. A, Sawicka. B, Umachandran. K; Food safety of potato processed in the aspect of acrylamide risk; MedCrave; https://medcraveonline.com/MOJFPT/food-safety-of-potato-processed-in-the-aspect-of-acrylamide-risk.html; February 2018

4. Vinci. R, Mestdagh. F, De Meulenaer. B; Acrylamide formation in fried potato products – Present and future, a critical review on mitigation strategies (Food Chemistry); ScienceDirect; https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S030881461101096X; August 2012

5. Robinson. A; Edwards. D, Farguhar. W; The Influence of Dietary Salt Beyond Blood Pressure; National Library of Medicine; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7309298/; April 2019

6. Robertson. T, Alzaabi. A, Robertson. M, Fielding. B; Starchy Carbohydrates in a Healthy Diet: The Role of the Humble Potato (Nutrients); National Library of Medicine; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6267054/; November 2018

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Eating Crab during Pregnancy
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