What Not to Eat When Pregnant: A Comprehensive Guide
Pregnancy is a critical time in a woman’s life, and it’s important to be mindful of what she eats and drinks. While most people know about the dangers of smoking and alcohol during pregnancy, many aren’t aware of the risks associated with certain foods. In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on what not to eat when pregnant.
Avoid Some Dairy Products
Dairy is an important source of calcium and protein for both the mother and the baby. However, there are some dairy products that you should avoid during pregnancy. Cheeses made from unpasteurized milk, such as brie, camembert, feta, roquefort, queso blanco, queso fresco, and paneta, can harbor listeria, a type of bacteria that can cause listeriosis. This infection can lead to serious health issues, such as miscarriages and stillbirths.
Be Careful of Your Eggs
Eggs are a great source of protein and vitamins, but it’s important to ensure that they’re thoroughly cooked. Raw or undercooked eggs can contain salmonella, a type of bacteria that can cause food poisoning and other complications during pregnancy. Some food products that may contain raw eggs include sauces like béarnaise or hollandaise, condiments like homemade mayo, and desserts like raw cookie dough, homemade ice cream, and mousse.
Avoid Some Meats as Well
When it comes to meat, there are many types that you should avoid during pregnancy. Raw meat can contain toxoplasma, a parasite that can cause toxoplasmosis, a serious infection that can be harmful to the baby. Fresh meat should be cooked thoroughly, and a food thermometer should be used to ensure that whole cuts of meat reach at least 145 degrees, ground meat 160 degrees, and chicken breasts 165 degrees.
Deli and processed meats like hot dogs, pâtés, and smoked, refrigerated meats like smoked salmon should also be avoided because they can harbor listeria. Liver should also be avoided because it contains high amounts of vitamin A in the form of retinol, which has been linked to birth defects.
Be Cautious with Fish and Seafood
Fish is a great source of nutrients, but some types contain high levels of mercury, which can be harmful to the developing nervous system and brain of the baby. Pregnant women should limit their fish intake to two portions a week and choose fish that are low in mercury, such as catfish, cod, salmon, and canned, light tuna. Raw fish or shellfish, such as sushi or raw oysters, should never be eaten during pregnancy because they can harbor parasites and bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
Unsafe Preparation of Fruits and Veggies
Fruits and vegetables are great sources of nutrients, but it’s important to be aware of unsafe preparation practices that may put you at risk of toxoplasmosis. Always wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them, and avoid using soap. Unpasteurized fruit juices, such as those found in health food stores and juice bars, should also be avoided because they can contain salmonella and E. coli.
Watch What You Drink as Well
Alcohol is strictly off-limits during pregnancy, and caffeine should be limited to around 200mg a day, as excessive amounts can increase the risk of miscarriages and stillbirths.
Overall, the key to a healthy pregnancy is to follow a nutritious and balanced diet. This means avoiding certain foods that may contain harmful bacteria or toxins, such as unpasteurized dairy, raw meat and eggs, deli and processed meats, high-mercury fish, and certain fruits and vegetables. It’s also important to watch what you drink, as excessive amounts of alcohol and caffeine can pose risks to the developing baby. By following these guidelines, you can ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.