Is Oatmeal Safe During Pregnancy?

Are you pregnant and craving oatmeal? Do you find yourself longing for a warm bowl of it daily?

Whether you’ve always loved the stuff, or couldn’t stand it before you found out you were expecting, it can be surprising to have such a specific craving during pregnancy.

So it’s time to get deep into oat cravings — why they happen, what they could mean, and even some delicious ways to incorporate them into your diet.

Contents

    Are Oatmeal Cravings Normal?

    Absolutely. Fact: your body is extra needy when you’re pregnant. Everything you eat is fuel for you, and the new life you’re growing — there’s a reason we say we’re “eating for two!”

    During pregnancy, your body has a whole new set of dietary requirements. Cravings are how your body communicates what it needs from you — even if those needs are hard to decipher at times.

    Food Fact

    If you find yourself craving oatmeal, you may need more fiber, zinc, or iron in your diet. Oddly enough, if you normally prepare your oatmeal with milk, your body may also be craving the nutrients in the milk, and not simply the oatmeal alone.

    Hormonal changes during pregnancy, specifically the rise in estrogen, is said to increase sensitivity in our sense of taste and smell. This is the case when the smell or taste of food makes us sick during early pregnancy but it can also play a part in craving a certain smell or taste of food as well.

    Is Oatmeal Safe During Pregnancy?

    We know the relationship between food and pregnancy can be complicated. It seems like there are new rules for not just what you can eat, but how you can eat it too.

    In fact, you’re probably so used to hearing about the things you can’t eat, even the simplest of food cravings create questions and concerns.

    Good news for you if you’re craving oatmeal! Oatmeal, and oats in general are one of the top foods you can eat during pregnancy.

    They’re a safe gain for every trimester and offer a ton of incredible health benefits to you and your baby. They’re an affordable superfood you can easily include in your diet.

    Food Tip

    Oats are naturally gluten-free however, in rare cases, those who have gluten sensitivities have had reactions to them. The best way to avoid this is by looking for certified gluten-free symbols on the packaging.

    Oatmeal can worsen symptoms of indigestion and diarrhea if consumed in large amounts. In addition, keep an eye out for some of the instant oatmeal containers that have a very high amount of sugar and artificial flavors.

    What Nutrients Are In Oatmeal?

    Oats are incredible for your body and your growing baby! They’re full of vitamins, fiber, and complex carbs, which help give you energy throughout the day. Furthermore, they’re a nutritional powerhouse.

    Oats and oatmeal are also an amazing source of these nutrients:

    • Folic acid: Great for fetal development! Folic acid has been known to prevent birth defects in baby’s brain and spinal cord (source).
    • Iron: Anemia — low iron — is a condition common in pregnant women. Oatmeal provides an excellent source of iron, keeping you from feeling sluggish and exhausted.
    • Calcium: During pregnancy, your baby takes all the calcium it needs from you. Fortifying your diet with calcium-rich foods like oats will help keep your bones and teeth strong during this time.
    • Salt: Pregnant women crave salt because of the increase in their blood volume as baby grows. Salt helps keep your muscles and body systems working and balanced (source).

    Oatmeal contains complex carbohydrates that break down slowly in your body keeping you feeling full longer and decreasing the chance of excessive weight gain and gestational diabetes.

    Can Oats Help My Constipation?

    Constipation is a common problem for pregnant women. It’s most easily solved by consuming oats — or other sources of fiber — and making sure you’re getting enough fluid in your diet.

    There are two kinds of fiber. Insoluble fiber moves through your digestive system and cleans out waste and toxins. Soluble fiber can help lower cholesterol and control blood sugar — oats have both (source).

    The amount of insoluble fiber in oatmeal can be key in helping reduce constipation.

    The largest caveat? Too much oatmeal without other ingredients can cause diarrhea or indigestion. Everything in moderation!

    Remember to increase your water intake along with your fiber intake. Too much fiber without proper hydration can have a counter effect on the body and actually lead to constipation, gas and bloating.
    Headshot of Dr. Njoud Jweihan, MD

    Editor's Note:

    Dr. Njoud Jweihan, MD

    4 Delicious Oatmeal Recipes

    Somehow oatmeal and oats have gotten a reputation for being boring — we’d like to bring an end to this unfair stereotyping. Plain oats are deliciously versatile!

    Whether you’re cooking or baking with them, you can add almost anything to make them taste great.

    Dress them up for dessert and down for breakfast!

    1. Simple Cinnamon Oatmeal

    It’s pretty common for store-bought oatmeal to be high in sugar, which everyone knows we shouldn’t overdo anytime — even while pregnant.

    By using natural sweeteners as this recipe does, you get a satisfying sweet tooth remedy, while empowering your body with the health benefits of oats.

    2. Sweet Potato Pie Oats

    Who said oatmeal was only for breakfast? Savory-but-sweet oatmeal dishes can be great for a quick lunch or a dinner side.

    Combining sweet potatoes — another amazing pregnancy superfood — with the benefits of oats is a winning combination that will leave you energized and satisfied.

    3. Baked Banana Bread Oatmeal

    This recipe is perfect for moms who like to spend time in the kitchen, but find themselves too busy to dedicate the hours baking can require. It takes less than an hour to create, and tastes amazing!

    Plus, combining oatmeal and dessert is a great way to feel like you’re treating yourself while still meeting your nutritional needs!

    4. Quick Maple Spice Oatmeal

    Easy, tasty breakfasts infused with energy-building ingredients are essential while pregnant. This is another gluten-free recipe that brings together a variety of incredible superfoods.

    The best part? It’s sweetened with natural maple syrup for a lovely, familiar breakfast flavor.

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    Are You Hungry Yet?

    So you’re craving oats during pregnancy — that’s great! Oats are a healthy and delicious way to get healthful nutrients like calcium, fiber, and folic acid. As we’ve read, they can even help clear up pregnancy constipation when combined with drinking a healthy amount of water.

    Avoid pre-packaged oatmeal and choose old fashioned or steel cut oats. You can add those to yogurt or milk for an extra source of calcium.

    One final note about oats, specifically colloidal oatmeal which is finely ground, is its numerous benefits to the skin. That is why you will see it included in many skin products. It has a calming effect on skin irritations and skin issues such as eczema.

    What’s your favorite way to satisfy an oatmeal craving? Have any tips to cook with oats?

    Share them in the comments below! And if you know a mama-to-be who’s been hungering for oatmeal, pass this on to her and share the information!

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