During pregnancy there may be certain smells or foods that you just can’t seem to tolerate that may have been a part of your diet prior to pregnancy, this is not uncommon. But having a temporary aversion to certain foods or smells is one thing, but there are certain foods pregnant women should avoid during their pregnancy. Below are some of the foods & drinks you should avoid:
- Alcohol: There is a zero tolerance for alcohol during pregnancy, even small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy are harmful and larger amounts are known to cause birth defects. Avoid all alcohol during pregnancy.
- Soft Cheeses: It is important not to eat any soft cheeses which are typically made with unpasteurized milk. Unpasteurized milk may contain listeria bacteria which can be harmful and even life threatening to both baby and mother. Cheeses such as feta, brie, blue cheese, panela, Camembert, queso fresco, and queso blanco should all be avoided. When dining out be certain to inquire about the type of cheeses in any dish you are ordering and if in doubt choose something else.
- Rare Meats, Chicken or Turkey: During pregnancy you want your food to be thoroughly (fully) cooked, meat should be 145 degrees Fahrenheit, 160 degrees Fahrenheit for ground meats (burgers) and 165 degrees Fahrenheit for chicken or turkey breasts. Raw or undercooked poultry or meat can contain dangerous bacteria and toxoplasma, so when ordering in a restaurant make sure your food is piping hot and fully cooked.
- Unpasteurized Juices: You might be thinking fresh squeezed juice is healthy, but not for pregnant women. Stick to pasteurized juices which protect you from dangerous bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella and other potentially harmful bacteria to you and your baby. Be sure to check the labels in the supermarket too.
- Raw Seafood: Although seafood is rich in many vitamins and minerals and packed with protein it’s a strict “no no” unless it’s thoroughly cooked. Sushi is out of the question for the duration of pregnancy as it may contain parasites and other harmful bacteria to you and your child.
- Anything Home Made With Raw Eggs: Homemade deserts, sauces, salad dressings and mayonnaise are all made with raw eggs. You can still consume store bought versions that are made with pasteurized eggs or prepare your recipes with pasteurized eggs, check the labels.
- Limit Seafood Containing Mercury: Fish is an excellent source of protein and very healthy for you and baby as long as it does not contain a high level of mercury (which can harm your baby) fish such as cod, salmon, catfish and light tuna are safe choices of up to 12 ounces of seafood a week.
- Refrigerated Cold Cuts: The refrigerator temperatures can harbor listeria in cold cuts and hot dogs, it is best to avoid these products unless you are going to heat them until steaming hot as listeria can be life threatening to both you and your baby.
- Refrigerated Pate or Meat Spreads: Again it is the danger of listeria in refrigerated temperatures that can grow listeria in your meat spreads and pates, it is best to avoid these foods.
- Unwashed Fruits or Vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a pregnant woman’s healthy diet, be certain to always thoroughly scrub your fruits and vegetables with a small brush under running water and then dry them with paper towels. Cut away any bruised skin or peel as this can be a source of bacteria or a parasite called toxoplasma which can cause toxoplasmosis and can be extremely harmful to your child.
- Uncooked Sprouts: Raw sprouts of any kind should be avoided as they may contain bacteria that cannot be washed away. If you must eat sprouts cook them until steaming hot to destroy any bacteria.
- Raw Shellfish or Local Fish: Shellfish is okay for pregnant women as long as they are thoroughly cooked, but raw shellfish is off limits as it could contain parasites and various harmful bacteria. It’s also best not to eat fish caught in your local rivers, lakes, ponds, canals and the like as the waters may contain pollutants. Fresh catch of the day is fine from your local fish monger, but leave the catch of the day to the professionals for the pregnancy.
- Party Foods & Pot Luck Dinners: Unless you’re willing to question the ingredients of each dish you’re considering it may be best to refrain from casserole type dishes at parties and pot luck dinners. Another consideration is how long the food has been left out; you shouldn’t consume food that has been at room temperature for more than two hours.
- Caffeine: When considering caffeine in your diet the recommended daily amount is 200 milligrams. This would not only include coffee and tea, but foods and energy drinks that contain caffeine.
- Take Home Bags: Unless you are going home right away avoid take home doggie bags, the heat in a car can build up quickly and can grow bacteria rapidly. Be mindful of the temperature in the car and how long the food is in the car.
Pregnancy is a wonderful time in a woman’s life and though you do need to be more careful about what you are consuming it’s pretty simple, make the most of your choices by selecting nutrient dense foods that are fresh, healthy and properly prepared. Avoid eating empty calories and though you will need to increase your nutritional intake slightly (approximately 300 more calories) it is vitamins you need to focus on not the quantity but the quality. And remember your eating habits during pregnancy can have a healthy result for your baby not only in utero, but over its lifetime.