Pregnancy comes with a whole host of changes for expectant mothers. Your body is working hard to support your growing baby. Ensuring you eat the right foods is crucial, but pregnancy cravings can throw a wrench in even the most well-balanced diet.
If you are longing for tacos, nachos, enchiladas and more, you may be wondering: can I eat Mexican food while pregnant?
The answer is yes—you can eat Mexican food during pregnancy. However, as with any diet during pregnancy, there are some precautions you should take to keep both you and baby safe. This article covers tips on safely enjoying Mexican cuisine so you can indulge those spicy cravings!
Choosing the Right Mexican Dishes
Not all Mexican dishes are created equal when it comes to pregnancy nutrition. Here are some of the top Mexican foods that are safe and recommended for expecting mothers:
Opt for leaner proteins like chicken, steak or pork that are thoroughly cooked. These provide essential protein, vitamins and minerals for your baby’s growth and development. Grilled meats are great in tacos, burritos and other Mexican dishes.
Beans and Rice
Beans and rice provide fiber, protein, iron, and vitamin B. Eating them together creates a complete protein. Look for veggie-bean burritos or rice and bean dishes on the menu.
Fill up on fresh fruits and veggies in your Mexican dishes. Ingredients like tomatoes, onions, avocado, peppers, and cilantro provide important vitamins and nutrients.
Corn and Wheat Tortillas
Corn and wheat tortillas offer carbohydrates and fiber. Look for soft tortillas without added preservatives. Grilled tortillas also provide a crunchy, healthy alternative to fried chips.
Cheese like cheddar, cotija, and queso fresco add protein and calcium. Just be sure any cheese is made from pasteurized milk to avoid bacteria.
Monounsaturated fats from plant-based oils, avocados and nuts are an important part of a balanced prenatal diet. Use guacamole, nut mix and olive oil sparingly.
Foods to Limit or Avoid
While most Mexican fare can be tailored to meet pregnancy nutrition requirements, there are some ingredients that should be limited or avoided entirely:
- Raw or undercooked meats – Thoroughly cook all meat to avoid toxoplasmosis from bacteria.
- Fish high in mercury – Avoid tilefish, shark, swordfish and king mackerel.
- Raw shellfish – Only eat thoroughly cooked shrimp, oysters etc.
- Unpasteurized milk and juice – Only consume pasteurized dairy products and juices.
- Raw sprouts – Sprouts are prone to bacterial contamination. Cook before eating.
- Certain spices – Limit jalapeños and other spicy foods that may cause heartburn.
When ordering at a restaurant, check that all ingredients are fresh, thoroughly cooked and safe for pregnancy. Don’t hesitate to ask questions!
Creating a Balanced Meal
To make the most of Mexican food nutrition during pregnancy, create balanced meals using a variety of safe ingredients. Here are some ideas:
Choose a whole wheat tortilla stuffed with scrambled eggs, black beans, salsa, avocado and pasteurized cheese. Add lean turkey sausage, spinach or other veggies to pack an extra punch!
Build a salad on a bed of lettuce using lean grilled chicken or steak, tomatoes, corn, black beans, avocado and crispy tortilla strips. Top with a tangy citrus dressing.
Go for corn tortillas rolled with pulled chicken, onions, reduced-fat cheese and green enchilada sauce. Serve with lime-cilantro rice and pinto beans.
Marinated, grilled chicken sizzles with sautéed bell peppers and onions. Wrap it up in warm tortillas with guacamole, salsa and sour cream.
Handling Cravings and Aversions
Pregnancy comes with intense food cravings and aversions. Here are some tips for navigating Mexican food preferences while expecting:
- Give in to safe cravings in moderation – Don’t deny strong cravings completely. A small indulgence may satisfy.
- Try substitutes for problem foods – Swap greasy ground beef for lean chicken in your tacos.
- Adjust seasonings – Cut back on salty or spicy ingredients if they aggravate nausea.
- Stay hydrated – Drink plenty of water and juice if Mexican food causes heartburn.
- Listen to your body – Avoid any foods that seem unappetizing or make you feel ill.
Discuss severe cravings and aversions with your doctor to make sure you are maintaining nutritional balance.
Dining Out Safely
With some simple precautions, you can safely enjoy Mexican restaurants while pregnant:
- Ask about ingredients – Request details to avoid potentially unsafe foods. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
- Check food temperatures – Make sure meats, fish and eggs are thoroughly cooked. Send back anything undercooked.
- Choose fresh menu options – Steer clear of pre-made items that may use unpasteurized ingredients.
- Watch portion sizes – Stick to single servings and take leftovers home if needed.
- Inquire about substitutions – Request alternative preparation methods, ingredients etc. Most restaurants are happy to accommodate!
Let your server know you are pregnant and have any dietary restrictions. With the right modifications, restaurant Mexican food can be safe and delicious.
When to Exercise Caution
It’s best to exercise caution with Mexican cuisine in the following situations:
- Morning sickness – Spicy, greasy or strong-flavored foods may intensify nausea. Stick to mild dishes or avoid completely if needed.
- Heartburn – High-fat, spicy Mexican dishes often trigger heartburn in pregnancy. Avoid or limit provoking ingredients.
- Gestational diabetes – Work with a dietitian to manage carbohydrate and fat intake. Enjoy Mexican food in moderation as part of your meal plan.
- Food intolerance – If you have a diagnosed food intolerance, strictly avoid any problematic ingredients.
- Recent food poisoning – After any foodborne illness, avoid potentially contaminated foods until your symptoms resolve.
Listen to your body and cease eating any Mexican dish that causes discomfort. Check with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns.
The Takeaway on Mexican Cuisine in Pregnancy
Craving Mexican food during pregnancy? With a few smart guidelines, you can safely enjoy tacos, enchiladas and more while giving your baby the nutrition he or she needs.
Choose freshly prepared dishes focused on lean proteins, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats. Limit potentially risky ingredients like uncooked foods and excess salt, fat and spices. Create balanced meals and control portions.
While eating out, customize orders and ask questions to avoid unexpected unsafe ingredients. If a restaurant dish causes discomfort, avoid eating it again.
With some mindfulness and moderation, Mexican cuisine can be a delicious part of a healthy pregnancy diet. ¡Buen provecho!