Cotton candy comes in a variety of fun colors and flavors. It’s a classic carnival and circus food, but you can also find cotton candy at fairs, parks, movies theaters, and sports stadiums. The sweet treat dissolves instantly on your tongue, delivering a quick sugar rush.
Cotton Candy Nutrition Facts
A typical serving of cotton candy (1 oz or 28g) contains:
- Calories: 105
- Total fat: 0g
- Sodium: 15mg
- Total carbs: 27g
- Sugars: 27g
- Protein: 0g
As you can see, cotton candy is pure sugar with no other nutrients. The main concern with eating cotton candy during pregnancy is the high amount of sugar it contains.
Let’s take a look at whether it’s safe to eat cotton candy when you’re expecting.
Is Cotton Candy Safe in Pregnancy?
There are a few things to consider when eating cotton candy during pregnancy:
The main ingredient in cotton candy is sugar. One serving packs a whopping 27g of sugar – more than half of the recommended daily limit for pregnant women.
Consuming too much sugar during pregnancy can increase your risk of excessive weight gain and gestational diabetes. It may also lead to higher birth weight and associated risks in baby.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends pregnant women limit added sugar intake to ~6 teaspoons (25g) per day. One serving of cotton candy exceeds this amount.
Excess sugar intake also provides empty calories without nutrients baby needs to grow and develop. It’s best to satisfy sugar cravings with healthier options when possible.
2- Food Dyes
The bright colors of cotton candy come from artificial food dyes like Red 40, Yellow 5, and Blue 1. Studies on food dyes and pregnancy are limited. But some moms worry dyes may pose risks like allergic reactions or hyperactivity in baby.
The FDA approves these dyes as safe, but some women prefer to avoid them during pregnancy. Look for cotton candy made without dyes if you’re concerned.
3- Gestational Diabetes Risk
Eating a lot of added sugar can increase your risk of developing gestational diabetes (GD) during pregnancy. GD causes high blood sugar that must be controlled to avoid complications.
If you already have GD or are at high risk, cotton candy is not a good choice due to the very high sugar and carbs. Always discuss your GD diet with your doctor.
Overall, occasional cotton candy in moderation is unlikely to cause harm. But the high sugar content makes it a treat best reserved for special occasions, rather than a daily snack.
Pros of Eating Cotton Candy While Pregnant
While cotton candy doesn’t offer much nutritional value, enjoying it sparingly does have some upsides for pregnant moms:
- Satisfies cravings: Pregnancy comes with intense sweet cravings thanks to surging hormones. A small serving of cotton candy can help satisfy your sweet tooth.
- Boosts morale: Treating yourself to fair food like cotton candy can lift your spirits during pregnancy. The nostalgia and flavors bring back childhood memories.
- Adds calories: While too many empty calories aren’t good, the extra calories from cotton candy can help if you’re struggling to gain weight in pregnancy. Always discuss weight gain goals with your doctor.
- Low risk in moderation: When eaten occasionally and in small amounts, cotton candy is unlikely to pose major health risks.
If you’re craving cotton candy, having it as an occasional treat is likely fine. Just be mindful of portion size and how often you indulge.
Cons of Eating Cotton Candy While Pregnant
However, there are also some potential downsides of eating cotton candy when expecting:
- Blood sugar spikes: The dramatic spike in blood sugar levels after eating high-sugar foods like cotton candy can be concerning. This is especially true if you have gestational diabetes.
- Weight gain: Cotton candy provides excess calories with no nutrition. Eating it frequently could contribute to unhealthy weight gain in pregnancy.
- Dental issues: The high sugar content could also lead to cavities or other dental problems. Be sure to brush your teeth after enjoying cotton candy.
- Artificial ingredients: Some moms wish to avoid artificial colors, flavors and preservatives found in cotton candy. Look for natural options made with real cane sugar.
- Empty calories: Cotton candy offers zero nutritional value for mama or growing baby. It’s best reserved as a treat rather than a daily snack.
While cotton candy likely won’t directly harm your pregnancy, it offers no benefits. Limit portions and focus on getting nutrients from healthier sources instead.
Cotton Candy Alternatives
If you’re craving the sweet flavor of cotton candy but want a more nutritious option, try one of these substitutes:
- Fresh fruit like pineapple, mango, or berries
- Yogurt parfaits with whipped cream
- Fruit smoothies with milk or yogurt
- Popsicles made from 100% fruit juice
- Frozen yogurt bars or bites
- Flavored milkshakes made with ice cream and milk
- Greek yogurt drizzled with honey or fruit
Choose alternatives made with real ingredients like fruit, dairy products, and a small amount of real sugar. You’ll get more nutritional value with less artificial additives.
Yes, occasional small servings of cotton candy are unlikely to be harmful during pregnancy. But it’s best saved as a special treat due to the high sugar and lack of nutrition. Those with gestational diabetes should avoid it.
Potential risks include excess sugar and weight gain, blood sugar spikes, dental issues, and exposure to artificial dyes. There is no evidence cotton candy directly causes birth defects or complications when eaten in moderation.
Aim for a serving of 1-2 ounces of cotton candy at a time, a few times per month. Monitor your overall sugar and empty calorie intake from other sources too. Larger portions or daily cotton candy are not recommended.
No, cotton candy is not advised if you have gestational diabetes due to the very high sugar content. Discuss any sweets and treats with your doctor and diabetes educator to create a safe GD diet.
There is no definitive evidence that food dyes like Red 40 are harmful during pregnancy. But some moms prefer to avoid artificial additives. Look for cotton candy made with natural colors if you are concerned.
In summary, enjoying cotton candy sparingly as an occasional treat is unlikely to be an issue during pregnancy. But it’s best to limit your portions and choose it only at special events due to the minimal nutritional value. Focus on a balanced diet with healthier sources of sugar and carbs like fruit and dairy. Always discuss your diet with your doctor.