Is Eating Noodles During Pregnancy Safe?

Woman eating noodles

One of the supposed perks of being pregnant is the license to eat, apparently. Pregnancy is associated with ravenous appetites and the power to do something about it. Mothers are actually expected to gain weight, and are encouraged to “eat for two”.

However, not every food is safe for your baby. Many everyday food items have a bad effect on the health of the developing child and must be avoided. Alcohol is not the only item that you have to give up, as there are many other items that have a harmful effect too.

One of the items in this list is noodles, or specifically, instant noodles. While the extent has not been found out yet, it is better to forsake it even if there is only a small chance of risk, considering the development of the foetus.

Types of Noodles

There are so many varieties of noodles, and instant noodles are perhaps the most popular of them all. Other types include ramen, soba, mung bean, rice-stick, Hakka, and egg noodles.

Instant noodles are marketed as the type which can be cooked easily, and come with a pack of masala spices that add taste to it. Common noodles brands like Maggi, Top Ramen, and Yippee all come under instant noodles. While the noodle cake might be bland and harmless, it is some of the ingredients in the condiments packet which have the potential to be harmful during pregnancy.

Are Instant Noodles Healthy during Pregnancy?

Eating instant noodles during pregnancy would seem like a great choice, as it is tasty, full of spices and can be cooked in a jiffy. However, it is not exactly safe. For starters, instant noodles do not have any nutritional value and they only satisfy your hunger for a period of time. They are as bland as they can ever be, so avoiding them would be a good idea. Another harmful substance present in instant noodles is MSG, although the packets say that MSG is not added at all. However, it must be remembered that the FSSAI has deemed Maggi unsafe and unfit for consumption, so the jury is still out on whether MSG is actually present in the garnishing.

Instant noodles

Ingredients in Noodles That Can Be Harmful in Pregnancy

There are a few ingredients present in instant noodles which can pose a risk to the developing child, so mothers must remember to stay away from them. Some of these are given below.

1. Maida:

Maida is refined flour which has no nutritional value at all, as it is completely stripped off of any nutrients during the refining process. It is also hard to digest and stays within the digestive system for a longer period of time.

2. Salt:

It was found that there is nearly 2.5g to 5g of salt in every 100g of noodles, and this level of sodium intake can surely make you susceptible to hypertension in the long run.

3. Preservatives:

Instant noodles have artificial colouring and flavour additives which aim to prolong its shelf life, and these can harm the growth of your baby.

4. MSG:

Monosodium Glutamate is known to be a common ingredient in many food items, especially savoury snacks. It enhances the taste of the item, so it is used in large quantities in noodles. While pregnant women can process small amounts of MSG, large amounts in the body may pose a risk to the child.

5. Trans Fats:

Found in large quantities in processed foods, they can make your cholesterol levels shoot up during pregnancy.

What is TBHQ? What is Its Role in Instant Noodles?

Tertiary Butylhydroquinone or TBHQ is a toxic chemical used in instant noodles as a preservative. It is a petroleum derivative, and is used are in paints, cosmetics, and even pesticides. TBHQ is obviously dangerous for the health of your child, especially in the long run.

Side-Effects of TBHQ

Nausea, delirium, breathlessness, and tinnitus are the immediate side-effects of TBHQ if it is consumed in large quantities. It is eliminated by the body after a short period of time, but if you are an avid consumer of instant noodles, it stays in the body for longer periods. It can also cause metabolic syndromes, which can mess with blood pressure, cause obesity and even spike up bad cholesterol levels. TBHQ can also lead to heart issues and diabetes.

Pregnant women with headache

How to Make Noodles Healthier?

  • If you are craving for a steaming bowl of Maggi, you can indulge in it once in a while, but not too often. However, make sure to make the dish healthier, by adding boiled vegetables and dishes in ample amounts.
  • Also, if you are adding extra salt, make sure to add only less than half the amount mentioned in the packet.

Other Snacks/Healthy Substitutes to Noodles that You Can Try During Pregnancy

Some Indian snacks which can be consumed as healthy alternatives to noodles are oatmeal, sprouts bhel, and even smoothies. If you have a more modern taste, you can go for sweet potato chips or sandwiches.

What Do Doctors Say?

Doctors are against consuming noodles as a staple meal during pregnancy, as they do not add any nutritional value to you or your baby. However, they are not against you indulging in your cravings once in a while.

Things to Remember

Processed food must ideally be totally avoided, but the easier choice is to take your frequency of consumption down to once in a while. Remember to make your noodles healthy and loaded with vegetables, if you do consume them during pregnancy.

Instant noodles are processed food items, which do not pose any benefits to you or your child. You must remember that after pregnancy, you can eat anything you want as much as you crave. However, during pregnancy, the health of the foetus must be considered, and instant noodles must be avoided to prevent any complications in the long run.

Also Read: Consuming Tamarind in Pregnancy