Nachos are a popular appetizer or snack made of tortilla chips covered in cheese, meat, beans, salsa, and other delicious toppings. When you’re pregnant, you may wonder if these tasty Tex-Mex treats are safe to enjoy.
The answer is yes, pregnant women can eat nachos in moderation! Nachos provide protein, carbs, and other nutrients that support a healthy pregnancy diet. However, some precautions should be taken to keep nachos as wholesome as possible.
According to the CDC, “Making healthy food choices during pregnancy helps ensure you stay healthy and provide the nutrients your growing child needs.”  Nachos can be part of a healthy diet when prepared properly.
This article will discuss:
- The nutritional value of nachos
- How to make nachos healthier during pregnancy
- Recommended portions and frequency
- When you should avoid nachos
- How to get your doctor’s advice
Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- Nutritional Value of Nachos
- Are Nachos Healthy During Pregnancy?
- How to Make Healthier Nachos
- Healthier Nacho Topping Ideas
- Portion Control
- When to Avoid Nachos
- Frequency and Moderation
- Talk to Your Doctor
- The Bottom Line
Nutritional Value of Nachos
What exactly is in an order of beef or chicken nachos? Here’s a look at some of the key nutrients:
The NHS recommends pregnant women eat “plenty of protein-rich foods including meat, fish, eggs, beans, pulses and nuts.” The meat, beans, cheese, and Greek yogurt (if used as a topping) provide protein to support baby’s growth.
Per the FDA, “Pregnant women should get about 175 to 220 grams of carbohydrates a day.” The tortilla chips are a source of complex carbs that provide long-lasting energy.
…”Fiber is crucial during pregnancy,” advises the Mayo Clinic. Beans, salsa, and whole grain chips supply fiber to prevent constipation.
Are Nachos Healthy During Pregnancy?
Nachos made with wholesome ingredients like lean protein, veggies, and whole grains can fit into a balanced pregnancy diet. However, some potential downsides exist. Here’s what to consider:
1- Weight Gain
Nachos are calorie-dense, so large portions could lead to excessive weight gain. This raises risks like gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. Follow portion guidelines to keep weight on track.
Spicy, acidic, and fried foods may worsen pregnancy heartburn. Limit chip quantity, spicy salsas, and sour cream to minimize discomfort.
3- Gestational Diabetes
Carb-heavy nachos can spike blood sugar. Pair chips with protein and fat to help control blood sugar rises. Avoid sugary dips or toppings. Monitor carbs if you have gestational diabetes.
4- Food Safety
Improperly cooked meat or unpasteurized cheese increase risk of foodborne illness. Use caution when dining out. Make nachos at home with thoroughly cooked ingredients to minimize risks.
Overall, nachos can be a great occasional treat in pregnancy when prepared with care. Follow the tips below to maximize nutrition and safety!
How to Make Healthier Nachos
Here are some tips to make nachos as wholesome as possible during pregnancy:
- Choose whole grain tortilla chips rather than white flour chips to get more fiber and nutrients. Look for options with just corn, oil and salt.
- Limit chip portion to about 15-20 chips to control calories.
- Use real cheeses like cheddar, queso fresco, or Mexican blend instead of artificial, processed cheese sauce. Shredded cheese has more protein than sauce.
- Opt for lean ground turkey or grass-fed beef instead of fatty ground beef.
- Add extra veggies like bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, spinach, or tomatoes to boost nutrition.
- Use black or pinto beans for an extra boost of plant-based protein and fiber.
- Choose homemade salsa, pico de gallo or guacamole instead of sugary jarred dips.
- Swap sour cream for Greek yogurt to cut fat and boost protein.
- Grill or bake chicken versus frying for lower fat.
- If dining out, ask how foods are prepared and request modifications to make it healthier.
Healthier Nacho Topping Ideas
One of the great things about nachos is customize-ability! Swap out less healthy toppings for these pregnancy-friendly ideas:
Black, pinto or cannellini beans add plant protein.
Bell peppers, onions, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, jalapenos, etc.
Shredded chicken, grass-fed beef, shrimp, turkey.
Cheddar, queso fresco, Mexican blend.
Homemade or restaurant-made fresh salsa.
Avocado provides healthy fats and vitamin E.
Sub for sour cream for extra protein.
It’s easy to overindulge when nachos are hot, cheesy and loaded with toppings. Practicing portion control is key during pregnancy. Here are some tips:
- Share a nacho platter with others versus eating a whole platter solo.
- Order a small or half-size portion.
- Fill your plate once and don’t go back for seconds.
- Read nutrition info and ask for nutrition facts at restaurants.
- Weigh or measure a single portion at home so you can visualize an appropriate amount.
- Enjoy nachos as an appetizer or snack rather than a main meal.
- If cravings hit, distract yourself by drinking water or eating a piece of fruit first.
- Stop eating when you feel satisfied rather than overly full.
When to Avoid Nachos
While nachos are fine in moderation for most pregnant women, there are some cases where they should be avoided:
- If you have gestational diabetes, nachos may cause blood sugar spikes. Stick to low-carb snack options.
- If you have severe heartburn, spicy nachos could aggravate it. Avoid until after pregnancy.
- If you have food allergies or sensitivities to ingredients like gluten or dairy.
- If you experience gastrointestinal issues after eating nachos, they may not agree with you.
- If nachos trigger intense cravings that lead to overeating.
Talk to your doctor about your specific risks before indulging in nachos.
Frequency and Moderation
When eaten in appropriate portions, nachos can be enjoyed about 1 to 2 times per week during pregnancy. Stick to just a handful of chips with plenty of veggie toppings over meat and cheese heavy platters. Always pair with something nutritious like soup or salad.
If you go out for nachos, sharing an appetizer portion 1-2 times per month is reasonable. Limit restaurant orders since ingredients and cooking methods are unknown.
Bottom line – eat nachos in moderation as part of an overall balanced prenatal diet, not daily.
Talk to Your Doctor
I’ve covered a lot of general tips and precautions, but your doctor knows your health history best. Ask them:
- If nachos are recommended for you or should be avoided
- How often you can have them
- What portions are appropriate
- If any ingredients should be limited or avoided
- How to manage heartburn or weight gain caused by nachos
Follow your provider’s personalized advice to make the healthiest choices for you and baby!
The Bottom Line
Can you eat nachos during pregnancy? Yes! Nachos can be a tasty, satisfying treat when eating in moderation. Choose healthy recipes and ingredients, control portions, and limit frequency to 1-2 times per week. Avoid if you have certain health conditions. Check with your doctor about specifics for your pregnancy.
When prepared mindfully, a bowl of cheesy, spicy nachos can be a fun indulgence you don’t have to give up for 9 months! But staying within dietary guidelines is key. 😊👍 Nachos can be part of an overall nutritious prenatal diet.
Nachos are generally safe in pregnancy when prepared properly at home with thoroughly cooked ingredients. Be cautious of restaurant nachos as ingredients may not be fresh or fully cooked.
Avoid raw or undercooked meat, unpasteurized soft cheeses, sugary dips, excessive greasy toppings, salty chips, and large portions.
Use whole grain chips, lots of veggies, lean protein like chicken or grass-fed beef, fresh salsa and guacamole, Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, and real cheese instead of processed cheese sauce.
1-2 times per week in reasonable portions is fine. Avoid eating them daily.
A veggie nacho bowl with cauliflower rice instead of chips, salads with crunchy tortilla strips, or smoothies paired with a small handful of baked corn chips.