Harmful Effects Of Junk Food During Pregnancy

Priya Mankotia

Created by Priya Mankotia
Updated on Nov 17, 2021

Harmful Effects Of Junk Food During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, it can be hard not to give in to those cravings for unhealthy foods especially when it comes to junk food. From fried pickles to ice cream at midnight, women have some pretty crazy food cravings during pregnancy. Blame the extreme hormonal changes that expectant women experience, which play a major role in their sense of taste and smell. So even if you were never a potato chip junkie, don’t be surprised if you find yourself inhaling a canister of Pringles.

Besides, there are plenty of excuses to give into those cravings, but researchers have found that those would be mothers who eat junk food during pregnancy are more likely to have children with mental health problem. From the onset of pregnancy to delivery of the baby your body undergoes tremendous constant changes, and the food expecting mothers eat plays a crucial role in the development of the foetus in the womb.

While some of the cravings are fine, craving for junk food can be hazardous to both mother and the developing baby. But before we go into the hows and why of it let’s understand what is junk food.

What is Junk Food?

Junk food what we normally understand is burgers, pizzas and pastas. However, the right definition of junk food is a food that doesn’t give anything to our body and is considered ‘trash’ by our body. So in reality if the food you eat has all the below mentioned things then the food you are eating is junk food.

  1. High Salt Quotient: Junk food is quite high in salt quotient as it has lots of mayonnaise and other sauces used to make it delicious and tempting. Not to forget the processed cheese that is again high in salt. Too much salt is not good during pregnancy as it can lead to water retention in the body resulting in swelling in the feet and hands. In addition, it can also lead to hypertension (high blood pressure) in pregnancy
  2. Absence Of Fibre: During pregnancy it is quite essential to have loads of fibre so that you are not constipated and junk food does not have any fibre that can result in uncomfortable bowel moments during pregnancy. Putting pressure on your bowel movement May rupture the fetal bag
  3. Sugar And Fat: Like I said, junk food is not only high in salt content, it is also high in sugar and fat content as well. For instance the French fries are loaded with oil and salt, your pizza and pasta sauces do have some amount of sugar in them, and then donuts – a classic example of a junk food loaded with both salt and sugar and loads of fat. Again too much sugar can lead to gestational diabetes during pregnancy and may also interfere with the healthy development of the baby. It is also believed that expecting mommies with gestational diabetes give birth to overweight baby

So now you know what is junk food. Now let’s see how it reacts from mother to the baby.

How Does Eating Junk Food During Pregnancy Affect The Baby?

When an expecting mommy eats all this sugar and salt-rich foods with less nutritive value, it is absorbed by the placenta as well. Thus, interfering with the healthy development and resulting in an obese baby or a baby with health disorders including mental health disorders as well.

Is It Bad To Eat Junk Food During Pregnancy?

Yes, it is bad to eat junk food in general and especially during pregnancy because if you are eating junk food regularly, you are putting your and your baby’s health at risk. You will gain unwanted and unhealthy weight that can pose problems during delivery, as the weight gain during pregnancy can’t be lost during the pregnancy.

eating junk food in pregnancy

What Are The Harmful Effects Of Junk Foods During Pregnancy?

Junk foods are great as an appetiser but it is as harmful as eating trash. It affects a normal person very easily so you can imagine how harmful the effect will be to a pregnant lady. This even creates a harsh effect on the baby inside the womb too.

  1. Unhealthy and Unwanted Weight Gain: The most obvious effect of eating junk foods is weight gain. Junk foods can make a person overweight and obese easily. It has a significantly higher risk of serious complications in women body during pregnancy. The consequences can be high blood pressure or Hypertension, pregnancy induced hypertension, various birth defects. Hence, to minimize the risks, obese mothers should maintain the weight gain limit. Doctors often recommend the couples to plan the pregnancy after having a fit and healthy body. Especially to the mothers. It becomes too much difficulty to carry an extra weight during the last few month if someone is obese. There are many cases of miscarriage happens at the last stage of pregnancy because of the obese period.
  2. Fetal Development: You may not know that a lack of protein during pregnancy interferes the proper kidney development in the fetus. If you are having a protein deficient diet then the kidney of the offspring remain underdeveloped. So, this process causes a massive development of high blood pressure and renal disease as the babies while reaching to adulthood. Doctors say that the adult hypertension and coronary heart disease may happen by intrauterine exposure to poor nutrition.
  3. Increases the risk of premature delivery: Eating too much of junk food that has no fibre can put unnecessary pressure on bowel moment which may lead to rupture of your water bag thus terminating the pregnancy.
  4. Constipation: Constipation is another hazard that can lead to a termination of your pregnancy, as it put unnecessary pressure on your bowel moment
  5. Behaviour disorder: If you are too much into eating junks and oily foods during pregnancy, there are chances you may behave weirdly. Doctors say that childhood obesity is inter connected with the increased risk of depression, attention deficit disorder and obviously poor learning. Many types of researches say that pregnant women who eat doughnuts, chips, oily foods, candies too much, have a risk of defective child birth. Basically, the baby brain and mother’s brain to react in a different manner. Hence, it is clear that junk foods bring behavioural disorders in the baby as well as in the mother

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Besides the negative effects on baby, too much junk food can also make pregnancy tougher than it has to be. “It can increase your risk of several pregnancy-related symptoms, such as fatigue, heartburn, stretch marks, gestational diabetes and more.”

If you crave: potato chips, nachos, Cheetos

Reach for: kale chips or beet chips; dried seaweed

If you crave: candy, cakes

Reach for: bananas, apples or any other fruit (make them a little more enticing by pairing with almond butter or a drizzle of melted dark chocolate); Mendes’s DIY healthy chocolate cupcakes

If you crave: ice cream (occasionally you can have an ice cream but not on a regular basis)

Reach for: fruity yogurt;

Other Healthy Alternatives Can Be

  1. Sandwiches or pita bread filled with grated cheese, lean ham, mashed tuna, salmon or sardines, with salad
  2. Salad vegetables - such as carrot, celery or cucumber
  3. Low-fat yoghurt or from age frais
  4. Hummus with bread or vegetable sticks
  5. Ready-to-eat apricots, figs or prunes
  6. Vegetable and bean soups
  7. Unsweetened breakfast cereals, or porridge with milk
  8. Milky drinks or unsweetened fruit juices
  9. Fresh fruit
  10. Baked beans on toast or a baked potato

How Is Yogurt During Pregnancy?

Benefits Of Coconut Water During Pregnancy

So all the expecting mommies think before you grab that burger again.

Did you like the blog on harmful effects of junk food during pregnacny? Do share your views and feedback in the comments section below.

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| Oct 23, 2017

Thanks its really informative. usually we had craving for these foods during pregnancy.

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| Oct 24, 2017

Many thanks Priya Mankotia for sharing this wonderful blog, which guides us to be determined not to give in to those cravings which can be detrimental later and pose as serious health hazards to our unborn child and to be mother's health. thaks again!

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| Oct 24, 2017


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| Oct 25, 2017

9th months want banana?

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| Oct 27, 2017

thank you for the information it is really useful but also please consider a point that food to be replaced by junk food are mostly from international market can you please suggest some foods which are easily available in Indian markets especially even in small towns as well if possible. Though internet has reached the extreme corners of India but not the food..... thank you

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