Can you eat spicy food while pregnant? Let’s think about that for a moment because it leads to all sorts of interesting questions.
For example, is it normal to crave spicy food while pregnant?
Or does spicy food cause miscarriage?
When your hormones are messing with your sense of taste and smell, you might wish for stronger flavors. That’s normal.
The good news is that you’re not going to give your baby heartburn if you put sriracha or Tabasco sauce on your food. And no, it’s not going to cause a miscarriage or affect your baby in any way (1).
You might even be benefiting your child by broadening their exposure to different foods. If you notice that the child is more active in the womb after you have jalapeños, that’s fine.
- 1 Can a baby in the womb taste spicy food?
- 2 What spices should I avoid when pregnant?
- 3 What to do about an upset stomach from spicy food while pregnant
- 4 The problem with eating spicy food in the first trimester
- 5 What spicy foods should a pregnant person avoid?
- 6 If you crave spicy food while pregnant, will it be a boy or a girl?
- 7 Is there any other precaution to take with spicy food while pregnant?
- 8 Spicy recipes to satisfy pregnancy cravings
- 9 Conclusion
Can a baby in the womb taste spicy food?
Honestly, no one knows if a baby in the womb can sense spicy things. What matters more is whether your child is getting enough of the necessary nutrients. If you’re eating a varied and balanced diet, that’s what counts (1).
There is some reason to believe that exposing the baby in the womb to different flavors may make it easier for the child to eat diverse foods in the future.
One study found that certain flavors like garlic do transfer to amniotic fluid. Also, during breastfeeding, flavors transmit through breast milk. Therefore, a nursing child is able to detect vanilla, garlic, carrots, and alcohol flavors within hours after the mother eats them (2).
What spices should I avoid when pregnant?
The only spices you need to avoid are the ones that cause you trouble. If you’ve never been able to handle hot chilies, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to eat them during pregnancy. Likewise, if you have any food allergies, keep avoiding those same things during pregnancy even if you crave them.
What to do about an upset stomach from spicy food while pregnant
Heartburn becomes more common during the second and third trimesters. If you’re eating spicy food, chances are you’ll suffer more.
Lucky for you, most antacids like Tums are safe to take during pregnancy (3).
If you have persistent heartburn or reflux, please talk to your doctor because there could be something more serious happening.
You may be able to avoid an upset stomach and heartburn with these tips:
- If you eat spicy food, buffer it with non-spicy foods. For instance, if you like kimchi, eat it with plain rice, not by itself.
- Don’t drink a lot of liquid to extinguish the heat. This will cause bloating and reflux. Instead, eat a piece of bread or something similar.
- Probiotics are your friends. They help with digestion.
- Eat smaller meals when they contain spicy food.
- Don’t stay seated or lay down after eating. Get up and walk a bit to let the food settle.
So yes, you can eat spicy food while pregnant during the first trimester all the way through the third. Just take it easy.
The problem with eating spicy food in the first trimester
You might’ve already learned this the hard way. Some women find that spicy food worsens morning sickness. See the tips above for how to manage nausea and heartburn if you simply must have habañero sauce on your tacos.
You might also find morning sickness easier to manage if you suck on a Pedialyte popsicle first thing.
What spicy foods should a pregnant person avoid?
Scientists actually studied whether eating spicy food stimulated labor. They also looked into whether sex, walking, and laxatives stimulated worked (4). If you’re worried about causing premature birth with spicy food, it’s not going to happen.
You don’t need to avoid anything spicy unless:
- You’re allergic to it
- It has caused you problems in the past
- It’s made with unpasteurized dairy, raw seafood, unwashed fruits and vegetables, or undercooked meat
Otherwise, enjoy those hot wings!
If you crave spicy food while pregnant, will it be a boy or a girl?
Rumor has it that if you crave spicy food, you’re going to have a boy…or maybe it’s a girl? I’ve heard it both ways. At this point, there’s no evidence to support either conclusion.
Is there any other precaution to take with spicy food while pregnant?
It’s not the heat that matters; it’s the nutritional content and the preparation. When you eat anything during pregnancy, you’re eating for two. Talk to your OB/GYN or nutritionist about a healthy diet.
Meanwhile, stay well by eating only pasteurized, properly cooked, and safely prepared foods.
As tempting as the fire hot Cheetos look, you might be better off with the high-fiber, high vitamin, and protein content of spicy nuts.
Wonderful Pistachios No Shells Chili Roasted
Pistachios are one of the best nuts you can eat when you’re pregnant. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help your baby develop healthy and strong. These nuts also help reduce nausea and strengthen your body, too.
Therefore, what could be better than spicy pistachios? These are shelled and seasoned with tabasco pepper and other spices. They have just the right amount of kick and lots of flavor.
Each quarter-cup serving provides 170 calories and 6 grams of protein, making them a nice snack in between meals. Feel free to sprinkle them on your salad or soup, too.
KICKIN’ Spicy Pickle Hot Peanuts
When I first saw these, I rolled my eyes. Seriously, who came up with the idea of roasted peanuts with habanero powder and pickle flavor? But the taste is surprisingly good.
When you first take a bite, it’s more pickle than spice. But then the heat arrives and they are hot!
If you’re looking for something new to try with at least a minimum amount of nutritious value, give them a shot.
Annie Chun’s Noodle Bowl, Chinese-Style Kung Pao
I can’t help it, I love Annie Chun’s noodles. They’re vegan and made with non-GMO ingredients. Plus, they are low in saturated fat. One bowl has 500 calories and 24% of the daily requirement of vitamin A (for a non-pregnant person).
Now that the brand produces Kung Pao noodles, I really can’t resist. The labeling says they are medium-hot and I agree. There’s definitely some delicious warmth here but not so much that my tongue goes numb. I’ve heard of people adding peanut butter to them to calm the spiciness, though.
The fact that it only takes 2 minutes to cook them is also awesome.
If you have food allergies, keep in mind that they contain gluten, soy, and peanuts.
Jelly Belly BeanBoozled Fiery Five Bag
I can honestly say that I’ve never recommended candy to a pregnant woman before now. But here’s the thing: if you’re craving spicy things but you don’t want to eat a whole meal, Jelly Belly has the perfect solution. Have a few of these jelly beans and fix the craving.
They come in five hot-hot-hot flavors including Sriracha, Jalapeño, Cayenne, Habanero, and Carolina Reaper. It’s a good thing that it’s a small bag!
And there’s more good news. They are low-calorie and dairy, gluten, fat, and peanut-free.
Mike’s Hot Honey
What happens when you mix hot chilies and vinegar with honey? You get a kicking hot and sweet gooey mess. This delightful treat makes anything tastier.
You can put the honey in tea, coffee, hot wings, toast, you name it. It also makes an excellent dipping sauce.
What’s more, it’s certified Kosher and gluten-free with no added sugar or preservatives.
Small Axe Peppers Spicy Hot Sauce Set
Are you brave enough to eat ghost pepper hot sauce? I wasn’t! But the habanero mango and ginger sauces are great. Alton Brown was right.
This set has all 3 flavors. Try them the next time you do a marinade. You can also have them on salad, cooked veggies, or whatever you like.
If you haven’t heard of this brand before, it’s pretty famous. The New York Times has written about and they’ve been featured on TV shows, too. What’s nice is that they source the peppers they use from community gardens in the USA.
LUCKY FOODS Seoul Gochujang Chili Paste
I recently learned how to cook a couple of Korean meals. In the process, I experimented with gochujang paste. It was both sweet and spicy and I really liked it. It’s good stuff with the perfect amount of spice.
This brand is careful to avoid synthetic nitrites and nitrates, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fat, and bleached or bromated flour.
Unfortunately, if you are gluten-intolerant, this has wheat flour in it.
Spicy recipes to satisfy pregnancy cravings
Here are quick and easy spicy meals for any time during pregnancy.
Savory Vegan Chili With a Kick
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 red pepper
- 1 cup frozen or fresh corn
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 3/4 cup sriracha or gochujang Korean chili paste
- 14-ounce can black beans
- 14-ounce can white beans
- 14-ounce can kidney beans
- 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
- Parsley or other fresh herbs for garnish (optional)
- Greek yogurt, natural, or sour cream for garnish (optional)
Here’s what to do:
- Peel and mince the garlic, dice the onion and pepper.
- Add olive oil and onions to a soup pot on medium heat. Sauté until translucent.
- Add garlic and red pepper, stir.
- Mix in chili powder, cumin and sriracha and cook until the pepper is soft.
- Add remaining ingredients (beans, tomatoes, and corn) and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Garnish with fresh herbs, sour cream, or Greek yogurt if desired.
Spicy Skillet Lasagna with Ravioli
- 24-ounce package frozen or refrigerated cheese ravioli
- 28-ounce can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
- 8 ounces small fresh mozzarella balls, divided
- 1 or 2 tablespoons habanero reaper sauce (like the one from the Small Axe Peppers set above)
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 ½ teaspoons oregano
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- 4 or 5 jalapeno peppers, sliced
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil or 4 tablespoons dried basil
- Parmesan cheese (optional)
Here’s what to do:
Preheat the oven broiler and start boiling a large pot of water. Cook ravioli according to the package directions, then drain it and set it aside in the colander.
While the ravioli is cooking, cook ground beef in a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through. It takes 4 to 5 minutes. Season it with oregano, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Add tomatoes and basil to the skillet and bring it all to a simmer. Gently fold in the cooked ravioli and half of the mozzarella balls.
(If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, transfer the food to a casserole dish for broiling).
Place the remaining mozzarella and jalapeno peppers over the top of the pasta and transfer the pan to the oven. Broil until the cheese is melted, 2 to 3 minutes.
I hope you found the answers you need today about eating spicy food while pregnant. I think it’s great that you want to have a healthy diet for yourself and your baby. I wish you both the best of health and happiness!
1. https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/spicy-food-pregnancy Can You Eat Spicy Food While Pregnant? Medically reviewed by Jillian Kubala, MS, RD, Nutrition — By Sarah Bradley on June 17, 2020
2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30982867/ Spahn JM, Callahan EH, Spill MK, Wong YP, Benjamin-Neelon SE, Birch L, Black MM, Cook JT, Faith MS, Mennella JA, Casavale KO. Influence of maternal diet on flavor transfer to amniotic fluid and breast milk and children’s responses: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2019 Mar 1;109(Suppl_7):1003S-1026S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy240. PMID: 30982867.
3. https://www.romper.com/life/what-happens-to-your-baby-when-you-eat-spicy-food-during-pregnancy-mama-needs-the-hot-sauce-7864991 Here’s What Happens To Your Baby When You Eat Spicy Food During Pregnancy, by Mishal Ali Zafar and Jennifer Parris, Updated: Aug. 23, 2021, Originally Published: Jan. 12, 2018
4. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1523-536X.2010.00465.x Women’s Use of Nonprescribed Methods to Induce Labor: A Brief Report, Zaid Chaudhry BS,Jane Fischer MSN, RN, ACCE,Jonathan Schaffir MD, First published: 10 March 2011 https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1523-536X.2010.00465.x