Cravings during pregnancy are common and vary from each expecting woman. It is completely normal as changes are constantly happening, most especially during the first trimester of your journey. You may crave foods you have tasted and like before and you may also crave foods that you tasted but did not like before. For some, it could be, Chinese cuisine. Chinese cuisine is very diverse just like other popular cuisines around the globe, but what are they most famous of? Chinese foods are known to have a sharp aroma and intense flavorings; from their dumplings to fried rice, to noodles, distinctive yet unique savors can be distinguished. However, have you asked yourself why it is that flavorful? What makes it too tasty for your buds? Do they put something on their food? We will discuss the reasons why and answer your question “can I eat Chinese food while pregnant?”, so read on!
Talking About Pregnancy Cravings
Let’s take you first to a brief discussion about having pregnancy cravings. Expecting women experience a lot of changes in their body and that includes hormonal fluctuations and nutritional necessity. To suffice these heavy changes, expecting women will start to crave various foods to satisfy their cravings. However, this should be taken under control and their health is more sensitive during pregnancy.
Chinese Cuisine and MSG
One of the most diverse cuisines around the world is probably Chinese cuisine. Chinese itself is a huge country, thus it has a bigger population compared to other countries, which also means that a lot of different people coming from the different region have made an influence on their famous dishes. Perhaps, we can all agree that one of the best and well-known dishes is their hotpot.
On the other hand, there is a reason why their food tastes strong and intense. This food ingredient that the Chinese are using to improve the taste and flavor of their food and you can most likely find this in every Chinese kitchen – Monosodium glutamate.
Monosodium glutamate or MSG is a type of food additive that serves generally as a food flavor enhancer. The FDA has tagged this as generally recognized as a safe ingredient but there are previous studies and even on-going studies stating this causes several health problems.
Do you believe that MSG has something to do with your craving for Chinese food during pregnancy? In fact, yes. We can say that MSG is typically designed for you to crave as it improves the food’s taste and aroma. We all know what happens that once we tend to eat good food, it always leaves us to ask for more.
Chinese Pregnancy Food to Avoid
Another famous dish that originated in China is fried rice. Can you eat fried rice when pregnant? –Most probably not. Fried rice is not only but oily but also contains a high amount of sodium and MSG. The main reason why some people advise expecting women to avoid Chinese food is the probability of high intake of these two components.
According to some studies, MSG offers various harmful effects on the body, offering double risk to pregnant women. Effects of consuming these on the excessive amount may cause the following based on complaints coming from other expecting mothers:
- Worsen nausea and headache – too much consumption of foods with MSG will lead to headaches and nausea due to the release of nitric oxide, which is responsible for the widening of blood vessels around the skull.
- Dehydration – high sodium means high salt; we know what happens when we consume foods containing more than enough salt.
- Heart palpitation – without a clear understanding of how MSG affects the heart, but heart palpitations are risky and pregnant women should avoid foods that trigger this.
- Trigger allergies – only rare people have reported having allergic reactions to MSG and little studies only support the association of it but it’s best to avoid this especially if you have other existing allergies.
Even though adverse health effects regarding MSG is still controversial, you are going to lose nothing if you still decide to avoid it. After all, it is just a mere food flavor enhancer but consider the conducted and continuous studies that are going around the research area. Hence, always think twice first if you’re craving Chinese food during pregnancy.
Chinese Food Recipes During Pregnancy
In general, not all dishes of Chinese cuisine contain MSG or high in sodium. There a lot of good foods for pregnant women if you would dig deeper into their tradition and culture. Below, are two of the famous Chinese food recipes during pregnancythat will give extra health benefits:
- Chinese Green tea – known to be a famous health drink for its rich amount of antioxidants; improves the immune system, maintains blood sugar under control, eases mood swings.
- 2g of green tea leaves
- Crystal sugar (optional)
Pour 100ml of hot water and leave to infuse the green tea leaves for up to 3 minutes.
- Red and White Rice and Job’s Tear Water – perfect for nausea and morning sickness.
- Coix Seed (Job’s Tear)
- Red bean
- Glutinous rice
- Chinese wolfberries
Leave and soak the coix seed and rice for 20 minutes; 2 hours for red beans. Once dates and wolfberries are cleaned and sliced, put all the ingredients in a pressure cooker for 2 hours.
Chinese cuisine will always be included in someone’s “favorite cuisines” because of its peculiar diversity that contributes to the over-all flavor of their food. Now that we rolled out the discussion to your question – “can I eat Chinese food while pregnant”, will you still keep on visiting Chinese restaurants?
There is nothing wrong to eat Chinese foods when you are pregnant. Therefore, go and visit one if you’re craving but always take caution and be selective on choosing dishes from their menu. Choose foods that are less greasy, oily, salty, and too saucy; as much as possible, avoid MSG at all costs. You might also want to ask someone from the restaurant if you are not so familiar with the contents of the dish. Also, always eat in a strict diet and avoid eating in excessive amounts. Remember that what you eat is what you also feed to your baby, nutritionally speaking.