It’s common for women to crave spicy food and many other types of food during pregnancy. As any experienced mother will tell you, when those pregnancy cravings hit, they hit hard. But while you are devouring your nightly plate of Cajun shrimp, you may be wondering why you’re craving spicy food while pregnant and how you should handle these cravings.
Cravings for spicy food during pregnancy may be attributed to fluctuating hormones, high body temperatures, nutritional imbalances, a heightened sense of taste, or sinus congestion. Because pregnant women are more likely to develop stomach upset and heartburn, it’s recommended that you introduce spicy foods gradually and limit consumption.
Read on for more information about craving spicy food while pregnant, what it may mean, and how you should handle it. We’ll also cover those old wives’ tales about craving spicy food during pregnancy that you may be wondering about!
Table of Contents
Why am I craving spicy food while pregnant?
The hormones of pregnancy can change your sense of taste, so that you may start to love and crave foods that were never appealing to you prior to pregnancy or you may suddenly be repulsed by your favorite foods.
Food cravings are completely normal and expected during pregnancy. Additionally, cravings for spicy foods like curry, chili, and hot sauce are fairly common.
For the most part, food cravings during pregnancy are still poorly understood. There has been much speculation about the different food cravings pregnant women experience and what they may mean. Many of these theories are proposed by people without medical training and in the absence of medical studies.
There is no one identified meaning behind cravings for specific foods during pregnancy. Doctors have suggested various theories regarding the reason for food cravings in general, and spicy food in particular such as hormonal changes during pregnancy, higher body temperatures in an expectant mother, nutritional imbalances, a heightened sense of taste, following a restrictive diet, or sinus congestion.
Can you eat spicy food while pregnant?
Eating spicy food does not affect your pregnancy or put your growing little one at risk in any way. There has been some research with moderate evidence that suggests that indulging in certain foods during pregnancy can change the flavor of your amniotic fluid and breast milk, but there haven’t been any studies on a maternal diet that includes spicy food specifically.
While the spice you crave may be considered to be completely safe during pregnancy for both you and baby, you may still find that it has certain unpleasant after-effects that you never experienced prior to pregnancy.
The side effects you may experience after eating spicy food during pregnancy can vary in severity and duration but are normally short-lived. After eating spicy food consistently, pregnant women may experience:
- Upset stomach
Spicy foods are often high in sodium content as well. And a diet high in salt may have you feeling and looking more bloated or puffy after indulging.
While those hot and spicy Buffalo wings you’ve been craving were delicious, you may be paying for them later with some unpleasant heartburn or an upset stomach a few hours later, wondering why you ever thought they were a good idea.
Common spicy foods pregnant women crave
Women crave all kinds of different foods during pregnancy and those cravings seem to hit at the most inconvenient times. If you’re craving spicy food while pregnant, you might wonder what type of spicy foods are most common.
When spicy food cravings hit, pregnant women tend to crave:
- Spicy chips
- Hot sauce
While everything in moderation is a good rule to live by, remember that some spicy foods, such as hot chips, are not exactly healthy. If you do indulge in these types of snacks, remember to keep your meals balanced. Eating too many can cause heartburn or bloating due to the high sodium content.
Can eating spicy food cause miscarriage?
Eating spicy food during pregnancy does not cause a miscarriage, or increase your chances of having a miscarriage. Unfortunately, this a hurtful myth not based on fact that is often shared with women.
Spicy food does not cause uterine contractions or induce labor in any way, and it will not harm a baby or a pregnancy at all. If you have suffered a miscarriage, spicy food was not to blame (and neither are you!)
While there are many foods that are harmful to consume during pregnancy, spicy foods are not on the list of foods pregnant women should avoid. As long as your OB or healthcare provider has not given you any other special dietary restrictions and you don’t mind a little bit of heartburn later, you can feel free to safely indulge in all the spicy foods you crave.
What if eating spicy food while pregnant upsets your stomach?
Since pregnancy hormones slow your digestive system, heartburn and stomach upset are common during pregnancy.
In the first trimester of pregnancy, eating spicy foods is less likely to cause as many side effects beyond adding to the nausea of existing morning sickness. In the second and third trimester, when your uterus is expanding and pressing on your stomach, eating spicy food can cause heartburn as well as indigestion, nausea, gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
There are many over-the-counter medicines for heartburn that are unsafe to use while pregnant. If you have heartburn, you can drink some milk or have yogurt to try to find some relief.
Call your doctor if you are experiencing heartburn that doesn’t go away, or before taking any over-the-counter antacids. If you need treatment, they can prescribe antacids that are safe to take during pregnancy.
Should you avoid any specific spices while pregnant?
There are no known spices that are harmful during pregnancy, but pay attention to any added herbal ingredients to spices you purchase, especially in spice blends and seasonings.
Many spice blends and herbal seasonings contain a long list of ingredients, and some herbs that can actually be harmful to you or your unborn child during pregnancy.
The FDA recommends that pregnant women consult their doctor before ingesting any herbal supplements. There are many herbs that are unsafe during pregnancy and can cause miscarriage, harm to your baby, premature birth, or uterine contractions. These dangerous herbs should be avoided.
What does craving spicy food while pregnant mean?
While your Great Aunt Lisa may disagree, it does not necessarily mean anything if you crave spicy food while pregnant.
There isn’t one identified cause or reason for spicy food cravings during pregnancy. There are many possibilities that may contribute to these cravings, but many theories are not well-studied or simply pure speculation by people outside of the medical field.
One theory is when pregnant women crave spicy food it may be because they are already feeling overheated with a higher body temperature. Since eating spicy food can make you sweat, which ultimately cools you down, some believe this is your body’s way of lowering your temperature.
Some other theories about pregnancy food cravings include:
- Your body is trying to balance nutritional deficiencies
- They’re a result of fluctuating hormones
- They happen when you’re following a restrictive diet
Some also believe that spicy food cravings, in particular, are due to sinus congestion. Additionally, some have theorized that because pregnant women may have a heightened sense of smell or change in taste sensitivity this may result in food cravings or food aversions.
Food cravings when pregnant with a boy or girl
There are countless old wives’ tales about pregnancy, childbirth, and babies. Possibly the most common and fun to entertain are those that say the food you’re craving indicates whether you’re having a boy or girl.
If you do have spicy food cravings, I wouldn’t plan that gender reveal party or paint your baby’s nursery just yet. Food cravings experienced during pregnancy don’t necessarily provide any information on the sex of your unborn baby.
While analyzing the specific food cravings you are experiencing and trying to draw conclusions about the sex of your baby may be fun and exciting, the bottom line is that there is no real scientific evidence that food cravings can actually help you determine your baby’s gender.
Can spicy foods start labor?
One of the most commonly held myths is that you can induce labor naturally by eating spicy food. To the dismay of women who are past their due date and desperately uncomfortable, there is no evidence to support this myth.
Labor can only be induced safely with the administration of specific medications by your doctor in a hospital.
Other myths about craving spicy food while pregnant
Among the most damaging myths about eating spicy food when pregnant is the myth that eating spicy food will harm an unborn baby, cause miscarriage, or cause the baby to be born with birth defects.
Eating a hot curry dish or spicy chilies does not harm your baby or your pregnancy in any way. Any suggestion that a woman miscarried her baby or that her baby was born with birth defects due to the consumption of spicy food is hurtful and false.
If you’re wondering what’s the most common pregnancy craving, I have a HUGE list of the most common pregnancy cravings just for you!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What am I having if I crave spicy food?
While it is fun to guess whether you’re having a boy or a girl based on cravings, there isn’t any evidence to suggest that craving spicy foods while pregnant determines the gender of your baby.
Is it bad to eat spicy food everyday while pregnant?
It’s safe to eat spicy food while you’re pregnant if that’s what you’re craving. Keep in mind eating lots of spicy food or eating spicy food everyday may contribute to heartburn or cause an upset stomach if you’re pregnant.
What are pregnancy cravings in the first trimester?
Although there are many common pregnancy cravings, such as sweet or salty snacks and other junk-type foods, there isn’t one specific list of first trimester cravings.
Pregnancy cravings come in many forms and spicy foods are one of the most common cravings. Even though there are many myths and misconceptions around spicy food cravings, it’s safe for you to eat spicy foods while pregnant.
Since spicy food may cause heartburn or an upset stomach, be sure to talk to your doctor or healthcare provider if you have any concerns about your diet during pregnancy.