Eating For Two: Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy
When you're pregnant, what you eat and drink significantly impacts the health of your child, now and possibly forever.
From your first prenatal visit with your obstetrician, you'll hear all about what you should be eating and drinking during pregnancy. But when it comes to what about foods to avoid, conventional wisdom flip-flops from year to year, and things that were once considered perfectly safe may now be taboo.
Now that you're eating for two, it is important to know which foods contain chemicals or bacteria that can interfere with fetal development, cause serious infection, or be potentially dangerous to you and your baby.
So, here is a list of foods to avoid for the next nine months—no matter how much you may crave them!
Don't worry, though, pickles and ice cream are still perfectly safe. Mmmmm!
Hold The Cheese, Please.
Eating raw milk and/or dairy products made from unpasteurized milk, such as Mexican queso blanco during pregnancy can be risky because they can harbor Listeria bacteria, which has been linked to miscarriage, premature delivery, and death. It is best to avoid Brie, feta, Camembert, Roquefort, blue-veined, queso fresco, and queso Panela, unless the label says it's pasteurized. When in doubt, just say no!
Say Ta Ta To Steak Tartare!
You might like your filet mignon bloody, but pregnancy is the time to order all steaks, burgers, and chops well-done, since raw or undercooked meat can harbor a variety of bacteria. Since listeria, unlike many other foodborne germs, can thrive at temperatures inside your fridge, pregnant women should steer clear of perishable, ready-to-eat luncheon meats, such as cold cuts and hot dogs.
Make sure all meat is steaming hot and thoroughly cooked, and as tempting as it may be, avoid meat that is still pink on the inside. The precious cargo in your inside will thank you!
Seafood...Just Don't Necessarily Eat It!
Fish is low in fat and high in protein and essential Omega-3 fatty acids, which makes most fish an excellent nutritional choice during pregnancy. However some large fish -- such as swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel -- may contain higher concentrations of mercury, which can interfere with the normal development of a growing child's brain and nervous system.
Instead, choose fish that are low in mercury, such as catfish, tilapia, salmon, shrimp, and canned light tuna. The FDA recommends that pregnant women limit their consumption of these fish to 12 ounces or less per week, while canned albacore, or "white" tuna, which has more mercury than light tuna, should be limited to six ounces per week.
Sorry, sushi fans, but it's time to say Sayonara to this Japanese treat since pregnant women should only eat fish and other seafood that has been cooked thoroughly.
Remember, in life, as in love, there are plenty of fish in the sea, so cast a wide net!
Pregnancy is no time to skimp on fresh fruits and vegetables, but raw sprouts including alfalfa, clover, and radish, are no-no's, and doctors suggest pregnant women steer clear of salad bars (germ-heaven!) as well as packaged spinach, lettuce, etc, which can carry harmful bacteria.
Expectant women have to be extra careful about thoroughly washing their produce before consumption. Instead of using soap, doctors recommend scrubbing the surface with a small vegetable brush, as well as cutting away any bruised areas, since these may harbor bacteria.
Also best to avoid fresh-squeezed juice in restaurants, juice bars, or farm stands that may not be pasteurized against harmful bacteria, including salmonella and E. coli. Always look for the required warning label and proceed accordingly. Only then can you enjoy the sweets of your labor!
The Caffeine Conundrum.
There is now significant evidence that a moderate amount of caffeine is safe during pregnancy. But the medical community remains divided on whether higher amounts of caffeine, from coffee, tea, cola, cocoa, or energy drinks, increases the odds of a miscarriage. As with everything else, when it comes to caffeine, moderation is key. It is recommended that women who are pregnant or trying should limit caffeine to 200 mg per day, equivalent to one 12-ounce cup of coffee and try to drink decaffeinated beverages, especially during the first trimester when the risk of miscarriage is highest.
That's a latte time and money you'll save skipping the morning rush to Starbucks!
The Sobering Truth About Alcohol.
It is no secret that alcohol robs developing cells of oxygen and vital nutrients, prevents normal fetal development, and impairs intellectual abilities and physical growth in the womb.
It is best to avoid all forms of alcohol, including wine, beer, hard liquor, or spirits because every time you drink a beer or a glass of wine, your baby does, too.
Moderation Is Key.
During your pregnancy, you're eating for two—but that doesn't mean you need double the amount of calories and fat in your diet. Instead, choose foods that have the dual effect of providing the additional calories your body needs, as well as the extra nutrients that maximize your baby’s development.
While the food cravings of pregnant women tends to be the stuff of stand-up comedy, it's fine to indulge them in moderation. Whether it's peanut butter and pickles for breakfast, lasagna with chocolate sauce for dinner, or ice cream and relish in the middle of the night, you can eat what you enjoy, so long as you take a few simple precautions for the health of your baby.