Everyone has dietary preferences and needs, but those can be especially important for expectant mothers. With the holiday season in full swing, the sheer amount and variety of foods a mother-to-be can be confronted with can be a bit overwhelming. To help you navigate not just the holiday season, but pregnant-eating in general, we’ve put together this quick-reference list for you of foods to avoid eating while you are expecting. While it is most important to avoid these foods in your first trimester, it’s a good idea to avoid them throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding if at all possible.
- Anything the baby doesn’t like: This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many times patients complain that eating a particular food always gives them a tummy ache, heartburn, etc. While it may be hard to keep up with an ever changing list (the little bun in your oven is likely to be a fan of changing his or her mind… a lot) of no-go foods, there are some foods that are more common culprits than others. Typically acidic foods like citrus and tomato products (ketchup, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, etc.) will cause heartburn and reflux while dairy and oily foods will cause nausea, diarrhea and sometimes vomiting.
- Alcohol: Drinking alcohol during pregnancy is widely regarded as a bad idea. It can damage the fetus, thin your blood and more. Unfortunately it’s also rather common for a pregnant woman to crave alcohol – even if she wasn’t a drinker pre-pregnancy. Some people believe this is your body’s way of telling you that you are deficient in something that you need for proper fetal development and studies have shown that taking a well-balanced multivitamin tends to cut back on cravings. Having said that, a sip of your friends champagne or wine at a party is fine as long as it’s just a sip.
- Caffeine: Studies have shown that caffeine increases the risk of miscarriage, especially during the first trimester. Later in the pregnancy, it is safe to consume about 150 mg per day. When your friends offer you a soda to toast with instead of a cocktail (or an after-dinner coffee), it’s probably safest to stick to water if you’ve had any soda or coffee that day.
- Fish: Now before you get upset, you don’t have to avoid all fish. You just need to make sure of three things. Firstly, make sure the fish is fully cooked. Sushi lovers notoriously struggle with this. Secondly, make sure the method of cooking is not smoking. Smoked seafood may be contaminated with listeria, so it’s important to avoid lox, etc. Finally, try to avoid eating predatory fish like tuna, swordfish, shark, etc. Because they eat other fish and absorb the chemicals therein, their bodies tend to be higher in mercury than is safe. Bonus Bit: If you catch your own fish, make sure the water you’ve caught it from is clean and free from pollutants – if you question it at all, don’t eat it. It’s not worth the risk.
- Deli Meat: This is another listeria concern. Ham, salami, turkey, chicken, etc. from the deli section of your grocery can be contaminated with listeria – not to mention the incredibly high sodium content. That meat and cheese platter at a party may look amazing, but skip it. If you absolutely must eat deli meat, heat it up until it’s steaming hot first.
- Raw/Undercooked Foods: Pate is delicious. Rare steak is tasty. Sushi is wonderful. Raw oysters are divine. Don’t eat any of them while pregnant or breastfeeding. The potential for parasitic and bacterial infection is too high. This also holds true for “raw” milk or anything containing raw egg. Milk and dairy products should be pasteurized before they are cooked with. Some salad dressings (like Caesar), ice creams, and sauces (like Hollandaise) call for raw egg to be used. Soft cheeses like brie, feta and gorgonzola should also be avoided.
If there is any doubt about whether or not you can eat something safely during pregnancy, it’s best that you just avoid it. Make sure your hands and all cleaning implements are clean. If all else fails, keep a snack in your bag – people will understand.Share