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Spicy Food and Cravings in Pregnancy: Myths and Facts

Updated: Feb 12

spicy food and cravings in pregnancy myths and facts

From dill pickle seasoned foods and hot sauce, to spicy paprika and black pepper, spices may be the one thing you can’t live without. If you loved spicy food before your pregnancy and have increased cravings for this type of food, you may be wondering whether it is safe to consume them while you're pregnant.

Are spicy foods a no-go option now that you’re pregnant, or can you still indulge your taste buds and satisfy your cravings for the spicy sauces you love, even when expecting? This article will discuss the myths and facts related to spicy foods in pregnancy.

So if you're asking yourself if it's okay to eat spicy food while pregnant, you're in the right place. Let's get started!

Can You Eat Spicy Food While Pregnant?

Let's cut right down to the chase.... is it ok to eat spicy foods during pregnancy? One myth you may have heard during pregnancy is that spicy foods could harm an unborn baby. The fact is that even though some foods can alter your amniotic fluid’s flavor, spicy foods do not harm your baby, cause blindness, or lead to miscarriages.

Eating spicy food during pregnancy is 100% safe for your baby.

Do Spicy Foods Affect Your Baby’s Palate?

Yes, eating spicy food during pregnancy may affect your baby’s palate. Your baby’s taste buds form at around week 15 of your pregnancy, and as the spicy flavors transfer to your baby through the amniotic fluid, your baby begins to grow accustomed to the food you eat.

pregnant woman

This is why a lot of expecting mothers choose to refine their diets to cut out processed foods, chemicals, and possible allergens or intolerances such as gluten. As wellness brand Safe + Fair rightfully points out, “Since we are what we eat, shouldn’t we eat food, not chemicals?”.

Evidence suggests that if your baby grows accustomed to your food in the womb, they may become adventurous eaters in the future.

In a study published in the journal Pediatrics, they had found that the flavors do pass from the mother onto the child, so whatever it is that you choose to eat during your pregnancy can alter the baby's preferences after birth.

So, introducing your baby to spicy foods will almost certainly increase their liking for spicy flavors.

Are There Any Side Effects of Eating Hot Sauce While Pregnant?

Although it's safe for the baby, spicy food such as hot sauces, can affect you in many ways when pregnant. Nothing too serious, but it can still leave you with some side effects.

Heartburn and indigestion are two side effects you may experience when eating hot sauce or spicy foods in large amounts, but in typically small amounts, you shouldn’t have any negative side effects.

In the first trimester, however, you may aggravate morning sickness symptoms with spicy food. These side effects are not dangerous. If you eat spicy food during the second or third trimester, bloating, nausea, and diarrhea are all possible side effects.

Gastroesophageal reflux is also a common side effect of eating spicy foods during the second trimester. While this side effect happens due to hormonal changes that reduce the body’s ability to stop stomach acid from entering the esophagus, spicy foods can make these symptoms feel more intense.

pregnant women with spicy food cravings

Are Spicy Foods Healthy During Pregnancy? FAQ

Spicy foods are healthy options for one reason: they are a great way to reduce the LDL cholesterol that increases during pregnancy. Spicy foods can support your heart health by lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol.

Experts and doctors have said that as long as it's not bothering you, it's ok to continue consuming hot sauce or other spicy foods while pregnant.

Q: Can eating spicy foods when pregnant contribute to weight loss?

A: Research shows that spicy food can aid weight loss in several ways. Foods such as chile peppers are full of capsaicin, a compound with bioactive properties that can help reduce abdominal adipose tissue levels and make you feel less hungry.

Q: Do spicy foods induce labor?

A: Although some people think that spicy foods cause contractions due to digestive system stimulation, there is no direct correlation between the two. There are many people who claim that this helped them, but there has yet to be any research backing up those claims.

The same is true of the theory that spicy food increases the prostaglandins substance in the body and contributes to labor. Although prostaglandins affect uterine contractions, the uterine cramping caused by spicy food is either mild or ineffective.

Q: Why do I crave spicy food while pregnant?

A: Random and weird cravings during pregnancy are perfectly normal. So if you never enjoyed spicy food before but now you do during your pregnancy, don't be alarmed. A study published shows that 50-90% of women end up with weird or unpredictable food cravings during their pregnancy.

So whether you're craving ice cream and dill pickle hot sauce or spicy Doritos and watermelon, it's perfectly normal.

pregnant women eating food from the fridge

Should You Eat Spicy Food During Pregnancy?

There are several health benefits to eating spicy foods and hot sauce during pregnancy, meaning that if you enjoy spicy food and are unaffected by the side effects, you can eat it during pregnancy.

Keep in mind that if you’re not used to spicy foods and have a craving for them, you may want to limit your intake of spices and avoid eating them at every meal. You should also try to keep hydrated.

Pairing hot sauce with food can satisfy your cravings, but avoid eating the spiciest sauces or diving in at the deep end if your body is not accustomed to processing strong spices. Begin with milder sauces and work your way up to spicier options incrementally.

Below are some of the benefits spicy food has on your body:

  • Antioxidants - spicy food has plenty of antioxidants that can help to fight free radicals in the body, aiding the body’s natural ability to fight free radicals which contribute to cancer growth.

  • Fighting inflammation - when you’re pregnant, spicy foods can help to ease inflammation in the body, which leads to improved feelings of health.

  • Digestive health - spicy foods can contribute to healthy digestion by stimulating the production of stomach acids.

pregnant woman eating spicy food with husband

Final Thoughts On Spicy Food Cravings & Pregnancy

Spicy foods are safe to eat during pregnancy and have plenty of advantages. Eating them when pregnant can help you maintain or lose weight, increase your heart health, and make your baby a more adventurous eater. Even though there are some side effects, spicy foods don’t harm your baby. You can eat these delicious sauces and foods without worrying about your baby’s health.

Don’t forget that if you’re not a spice lover but are suddenly craving spices during pregnancy, always start with a milder sauce and work your way up to hotter options.


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