Can you eat junk food when pregnant?

In this article we are going to answer: can you eat junk food when pregnant, what is junk food, what happens if you eat junk food when pregnant, what you should eat instead of junk food when pregnant, and how you satisfy junk food cravings with healthy food. 

Can you eat junk food when pregnant?

Yes, you can eat junk food when pregnant but you need to limit your intake. Large amounts of junk food can significantly increase your risk of serious complications during your whole pregnancy, delivery, and life of the baby.

If you already have some complications like high blood pressure, hypertension, pregnancy-induced hypertension, gestational diabetes, or problems with your weight, you need to stay away from junk food. It can have serious consequences in your life and your baby’s life. 

What is junk food?

Junk food, according to the oxford languages, is food that has low nutritional value, typically produced in the form of packaged snacks needing little or no preparation. Is food that lacks nutrients, vitamins, and minerals and has high calorie, salt, sugar, and fat content. 

It is called junk food because it is not part of healthy eating, especially if eaten in excess. It can have serious consequences on the health of whoever eats too much junk food. 

What happens if you eat junk food when pregnant?

Junk food can lead to rapid weight gain because of its sugar, calorie, fat, and sodium content. The consumption of more junk food than healthy food can be fatal to pregnant women because it can interfere with proper fetal development.

If you gain too much weight during pregnancy there are several complications mom and baby can suffer.

  • Gestational Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Complications during birth
  • Baby health 

Gestational Diabetes

You can develop gestational diabetes, a condition where glucose or sugar in the blood is way too high and insulin can’t work correctly. You may need to take medication and the mother can develop diabetes even after the baby is born. 

High Blood pressure

You can develop eclampsia and preeclampsia. Both can lead to mother and baby complications and even death. 

Complications during birth 

If you gain too much weight it’s more likely that you end up in cesarean because vaginal birth tends to be more difficult with excess weight. Also, babies of mothers who gain too much weight are usually bigger. It can also lead to premature birth. 

Baby health 

Moms that gain too much weight tend to have babies with high birth weight and these babies have more risk of being obese and developing diabetes when older. The lack of nutrients in junk food can interfere with proper organ development. 

Babies of moms that didn’t follow a healthy diet during pregnancy have more risk of behavior disorders like depression, attention deficit disorder, and poor learning. Also, a lack of nutrients in a mother’s diet has been connected with autism. 

What should you eat instead of junk food when pregnant?

In general, when pregnant you should follow a healthy diet. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. A few nutrients need special attention during pregnancy, like folic acid, calcium, vitamin D, and omega 3 fatty acids. 

  • Ideally, 2 servings of fruit and 5 servings of vegetables every day
  • Increase your intake of whole grains and cereal foods. Choose high fiber options
  • Milk, hard cheese, and yogurt are great options because they are high calcium foods.
  • Choose low-fat options and good fats: fats from vegetable sources like almonds, olive oil, and avocado. 
  • Choose lean proteins and choose low mercury fish options. 
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Always stay active
  • Avoid junk food whenever possible, it should not be part of regular meals
  • Check the labels before buying processed food to make the best option
  • Avoid buying canned food with syrup, look for canned food with plain/spring water or olive oil. 
  • Avoid pre-cooked or ready meals
  • Choose low-fat options 
  • Avoid food with added sugars
  • Avoid processed/undercooked meat
  • Skip fast-food restaurants, instead, try to do healthy meals at home 

Weight gain should be closely monitored because the mother and baby’s health depends on it. 

This is a table that can guide you on how much weight you should gain. Remember, that dieting while pregnant is very dangerous. It is very important to always include all food groups. Just limit your intake of sugar and junk food. 

BMI at beginning of pregnancy (kg/m2)Recommended weight gain during pregnancy (kg)
18.5 underweight12.5 -18.0 kg
18.5 – 24.9 healthy11.15 – 16 kg
25.0 -29.9 overweight7.0 – 11.5 kg
more than 30 overweight5.0 – 9.0 kg

Can you satisfy junk food cravings with healthy food?

Junk food cravings can be very hard to satisfy when pregnant. Here are some healthy recipes you can do to satisfy your craving for junk food

You are not in the mood for cooking? Here are 17 healthier versions of your favorite junk foods that are worth buying.


This article answered can you eat junk food when pregnant, what is junk food, what happens if you eat junk food when pregnant, what you should eat instead of junk food when pregnant, and how can you satisfy junk food cravings with healthy food. 



What was missing from this post which could have made it better?

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.