What kind of chips can I eat while pregnant?

When you’re pregnant, you need to be mindful of what you put into your body, as it affects your growing baby too. One common snack food that many pregnant women wonder about are chips. Can you indulge in some salty, crunchy chips during pregnancy? Here’s what you need to know.

The Healthiest Chip Options During Pregnancy

Not all chips are created equal when it comes to nutrition. Some are better options than others if you’re pregnant. Here are some of the healthiest chip choices:

  • Baked potato or veggie chips – These provide more vitamins and minerals and have less fat than regular potato chips.
  • Bean or lentil chips – Packed with plant protein and fiber.
  • Corn tortilla chips – Made from just corn, oil, and salt. Look for low sodium varieties.
  • Whole grain chips – Contain more filling fiber and nutrients than white flour chips.
  • Low fat popcorn – Air popped or made with just a touch of oil. Go for low sodium too.

Chips made from starchy vegetables, beans, or whole grains give you more nutritional bang for your buck. Opting for baked or low fat versions takes out some of the junk. Be mindful of sodium content too, as excess sodium can cause swelling during pregnancy.

Chips to Limit or Avoid

On the other hand, some chips are high in calories, fat, and sodium without much nutritional value. It’s best to limit or avoid these chips when pregnant:

  • Regular potato chips
  • Corn chips
  • Cheetos and cheese puffs
  • Flavored tortilla chips
  • Anything fried
  • Anything high in sodium

Fried snacks like potato chips, Doritos, and Cheetos are tasty, but packed with fat and salt without nutrients. Flavored tortilla chips can be high in sodium too. Limiting empty calorie chips helps keep pregnancy weight gain in check.

Health Risks of Too Many Chips

Eating large amounts of chips on a regular basis during pregnancy can cause some health issues, such as:

  • Weight gain – Chips are high in calories and fat that can lead to excess pounds.
  • Gestational diabetes – Eating too many refined carbs like chips increases risk.
  • High blood pressure – Excess sodium intake from salty chips can cause blood pressure to rise.
  • Heartburn – Greasy, fried chips may aggravate pregnancy heartburn.
  • Nutrient deficiencies – Chips lack nutrients needed during pregnancy like protein, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Constipation – Chips are low in fiber, which is important for preventing constipation.

To keep these risks low, enjoy chips in moderation as part of a balanced diet focused on more nutritious foods. Pay attention to serving sizes too, as it’s easy to overeat chips.

Healthy Serving Size for Chips

So what is a healthy serving size for chips when you’re eating for two? Here are some guidelines:

  • About 15 regular potato chips or tortilla chips
  • Around 1 ounce of pita or whole grain chips
  • 1 cup of air popped popcorn
  • 1 serving according to package – often 28g or about 1 ounce

Stick to a 1 ounce portion of chips at a time to keep calories, fat, sodium, and carbs in check. Weighing or measuring chips helps avoid portion distortion that can happen when eating from a large bag. You can always go back for a second 1 ounce serving if you are still hungry.

Tips for Healthy Chip Snacking During Pregnancy

You don’t have to give up chips entirely when pregnant. Here are some tips for satisfying your cravings in a healthy way:

  • Choose whole grain, baked, or bean-based chips for more nutrition.
  • Watch sodium content and avoid excessively salty chips.
  • Read labels and be aware of calorie, fat, and carb counts.
  • Portion out a serving before eating to control how much you eat.
  • Avoid mindless chip snacking from a large package.
  • Pair chips with salsa, guacamole, or hummus for more nutrition.
  • Substitute chips with fresh veggies, fruit, yogurt, nuts, or hard boiled eggs for a healthy snack.

Making smart chip choices and practicing portion control is key. Chips can be part of a balanced diet, just don’t overdo it. Consult your doctor if you have any concerns.

Safety Tips for Avoiding Foodborne Illness

When snacking on chips, there are some safety precautions pregnant women should take as well. Here are tips to avoid foodborne illness from chips:

  • Avoid stale, broken, or dirty looking chips as they could be contaminated.
  • Check expiration or best by dates and don’t eat chips past their prime.
  • Store chips in a cool, dry pantry or cupboard, not the refrigerator.
  • Discard chips if they smell or taste odd or rancid.
  • Avoid double dipping chips to prevent bacteria spreading.
  • Don’t eat chips that have been sitting out for hours at room temperature.

Pregnant women have a higher risk of getting sick from foods that are expired, improperly stored, or contaminated. Follow these tips and listen to your instincts if a food seems “off” in any way.

The Bottom Line

When you’ve got pregnancy cravings, it’s fine to enjoy chips in moderation. Just opt for the most nutritious varieties like baked chips or bean chips. Watch your portions too, with a serving size of around 1 ounce or 1 cup of air popped popcorn. Limit or avoid highly processed potato chips, cheese puffs, flavored tortilla chips, and anything deep fried or high in sodium. Pair your chips with dips and other healthy snacks. With some mindfulness and smart choices, you can satisfy your cravings for a crunchy, salty snack during pregnancy.

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