Yes, it is generally safe to eat nacho Lunchables in moderation during pregnancy. Lunchables provide protein, calcium, and other nutrients that support fetal growth and development. However, they are highly processed and high in sodium, so portion size and frequency should be limited. Enjoy nacho Lunchables as an occasional treat rather than a daily meal.
What are Lunchables?
Lunchables are pre-packaged kits containing crackers, cheese, meat, and sometimes candy or dessert. They are designed as convenient, on-the-go meals and snacks for kids.
The classic nacho Lunchable contains tortilla chips, nacho cheese sauce, and ground beef. Recently, Lunchables has expanded flavors to include pizza, tacos, chicken nuggets, and more.
Here are some key nutrition facts about nacho Lunchables:
|1 package (1 tray, 1 chip bag, 1 cheese sauce, 1 meat)
As you can see, nacho Lunchables are high in sodium, fat, and carbohydrates compared to recommended values. However, they do provide protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Are Lunchables Healthy?
Overall, Lunchables are not the healthiest choice for a meal or snack. Here’s why:
Lunchables contain highly processed ingredients like refined flour in crackers, processed cheese sauce, and preserved meats. Minimal whole foods are included.
A single nacho Lunchable contains 830mg sodium, over 1/3 of the daily 2300mg limit recommended. Too much sodium is associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, fluid retention, and other issues.
Many Lunchable varieties contain added sugars in sauces, drinks, or candy. Added sugars provide empty calories and no nutrition.
Preservatives and artificial ingredients
Preservatives like sodium nitrite and artificial colors and flavors are commonly found in Lunchables. Some artificial additives may cause negative health effects.
Fat and saturated fat
The fat and saturated fat content adds up quickly in the chips, cheese sauce, and meat. Saturated fat raises LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
Lack of whole grains, fruits, vegetables
Lunchables lack the recommended servings of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Kids miss out on nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber.
So in summary, Lunchables are convenient, kid-friendly, and tasty, but not very nutrient-dense or healthy overall. Moderation is key.
Lunchables Nutrition for Pregnancy
During pregnancy, you need to consume extra calories and nutrients to support your growing baby. Is it safe and healthy to get these from Lunchables? Let’s review some key pregnancy nutrition needs and whether Lunchables can help meet them:
Pregnant women need 75-100g protein daily. Protein builds fetal tissue, organs, muscle, blood, and more. The meat and cheese in Lunchables does provide a good protein boost.
Getting 1000-1300mg calcium/day helps baby develop bones and teeth. The cheese provides calcium, though dairy products with active cultures like yogurt or kefir are preferred.
You need 27mg iron per day to make hemoglobin for oxygen-rich blood. Lunchables are not a significant source of iron. Lean meats, legumes, spinach provide more.
600 micrograms of folate daily prevents neural tube defects. Lunchables don’t contain much folate. Choose leafy greens, citrus, legumes, and whole grains instead.
Fiber prevents constipation and regulates blood sugar. Lunchables only have 1-3g fiber. Focus on high-fiber whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Staying hydrated with 10-12 cups of fluids daily prevents headaches, swelling, and urinary tract infections. Juice and water are better than sugary drinks.
Normal pregnancy weight gain is 25-35 pounds. Lunchables are calorie-dense so watch portions to avoid excess gain.
So in moderation, Lunchables can provide protein and calcium for pregnancy. However, emphasize more nutrient-dense whole foods like dairy, lean meat, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to meet all your nutritional needs. Limit processed meats and cheeses due to the sodium and saturated fat content.
Are Lunchables Safe During Pregnancy?
Besides nutrition, are there any other safety concerns related to eating Lunchables while pregnant? Here are a few aspects to consider:
The preserved meats contain sodium nitrite to prevent botulism. Nitrites may cause the blood disorder methemoglobinemia in infants, but are considered safe for adults.
Unpasteurized soft cheeses can contain listeria, a bacteria causing food poisoning. Lunchables use pasteurized, processed cheeses, so the risk is very low.
Mercury in fish
Some Lunchable varieties contain tuna or other seafood. Choose light tuna over albacore, and limit intake to 6oz fish/week to avoid dangerous mercury levels.
Practice food safety, refrigerate promptly, and check expiration dates on perishable items like meat and cheese. Reheat meat to 165°F.
Allergens and intolerances
If you have food allergies or sensitivities, read labels carefully. Lunchables contain common allergens like wheat, dairy, soy, fish. Choose alternative varieties if needed.
Heating, microwaving, or scrubbing plastic containers may release phthalates, BPA, and other chemicals into food. Use microwave-safe glassware instead.
Overall, major safety risks are low if you follow general food safety practices. Those with dietary restrictions or food intolerances need to choose Lunchable varieties accordingly.
Healthy Lunchable Alternatives
You can make homemade Lunchables with more wholesome ingredients! Try these healthy combinations:
– Whole wheat tortillas
– Sliced turkey
– Swiss cheese
– Cherry tomatoes
– Greek yogurt dip
– Whole wheat pitas
– Marinara sauce
– Low-fat mozzarella
– Mushrooms, peppers, onions
– Corn tortillas
– Black beans
– Cheddar cheese
– Greek yogurt
– Whole grain bread
– Roast beef
– Provolone cheese
– Leafy greens
– Roasted vegetables
– Brown rice
– Hardboiled egg
– Carrots, cucumbers
– Fresh fruit
These balanced combinations give you protein, healthy fats, fiber, and important vitamins and minerals. You can assemble them yourself in minutes for quick, nourishing snacks and meals.
Guidelines for Eating Lunchables While Pregnant
Here are some tips to follow if you choose to enjoy Lunchables during pregnancy:
– Read labels and know the ingredients
– Pick lower sodium varieties (~600mg or less)
– Balance with fruits, vegetables, whole grains
– Watch portion sizes, limit to 1 serving
– Choose light tuna over albacore to limit mercury
– Reheat meat, fish, and processed cheese to 165°F
– Do not microwave plastic containers
– Avoid raw sprouts due to foodborne illness risk
– Refrigerate promptly and follow expiration dates
Overall, eating the occasional Lunchable will not harm your pregnancy. But emphasize more wholesome foods to get the best nutrition for you and baby.
The Bottom Line
While not the healthiest choice, nacho Lunchables are generally safe to eat in moderation during pregnancy when paired with other nutritious foods. Enjoy them as an occasional convenient snack or meal, but rely primarily on wholesome, balanced nutrition from a variety of foods to support you and your baby’s health. Limit portion sizes and sodium content, and follow food safety practices. With some adjustments to your overall diet, it’s fine to indulge your nacho Lunchable craving!