Are there any foods I should not be eating during pregnancy? Are there foods I should eat more of?
Updated: Sep 30, 2019
Since pregnancy is so important for the growth of an infant, pregnant women are considered at high risk when it comes to food-borne illnesses. Therefore, there are indeed a few foods to avoid during pregnancy.
What foods should be avoided?
Similar to any other time, raw foods should be avoided. This is especially important for a pregnant woman because they are more susceptible to food contamination.
Raw meats should definitely be avoided due to bacterial risks and salmonella.
Most seafood-borne illnesses are caused by undercooked shellfish, therefore, raw shellfish should be avoided (such as oysters). Cooking can help but may not prevent algae related infections.
Lastly, raw eggs should not be consumed. Although the idea of body builders drinking raw eggs to "boost protein" comes to mind, this isn't exactly what we are referring to.
Raw eggs can be found in some unlikely sources such as homemade caesar dressings, mayo, homemade ice cream or custard and hollandaise sauce. Unless the cook uses pasteurized eggs, (which is the case for most restaurants) these foods should be avoided during pregnancy.
Pregnant women should also avoid fish with high levels of mercury (check out our post on fish and mercury levels during pregnancy here)! Be aware of fish caught in local lakes and rivers due to possible contamination in the waters. Check with your local regulatory agency before you fish or buy from the grocery store to be safe.
Pregnant women are at a heightened risk for listeria, a bacteria that can cross the placenta and cause infection in the baby and you. Foods that you should avoid that may contain listeria include; deli meat, hot dogs, smoked seafood, pate or meat spreads, unpasteurized milks, and cheese made with unpasteurized milk.
If you plan on eating any of these foods make sure they are all (re)heated so as to kill the listeria and/or other harmful bacteria (165 degrees F to be exact).
How to avoid listeria?
Drink pasteurized milks and find cheeses that are made from pasteurized milk. Cheeses to look out for are brie, camembert, feta, roquefort, gorgonzola, and Mexican style cheeses aka queso fresco. These cheeses are acceptable as long as they are reheated to kill any harmful bacteria.
Some canned smoked seafoods are also safe to consume as opposed to their refrigerated counterparts.
Caffeine and Alcohol?
Both Caffeine and Alcohol may be harmful during pregnancy due to risk of FASDs (fetal alcohol spectrum disorders) and miscarriages. Check out our post on caffeine and alcohol in pregnancy here!
Fruits and vegetables?
Make sure you wash all of your vegetables before consuming. While fruits and vegetables are encouraged to be consumed before, during, and after pregnancy--- unwashed vegetables may retain some contaminants from the soil that they were grown in.
What you should be eating during pregnancy is not based off of any diet or major food group. Instead, we recommend a balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, legumes, unsaturated fats, and low fat dairy products. We also recommend a prenatal vitamin to ensure your adequate intake of the key vitamins and minerals.
A balanced diet and prenatal vitamin will provide not only you, but also your baby, all the nutrients you need to be happy and healthy.
If you want to learn more about what to eat during pregnancy, take a look at our website or get in touch with us. We would love to help you reach your pregnancy wellness goals!
Until next time!
Mikayla and Cassie
Mamas Maternal Health Registered Dietitians/Lactation Counselors
References: Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/foods-to-avoid-during-pregnancy/
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