During your pregnancy there are a few things that might stress you out, but eating shouldn't be one of them. Unfortunately, all of the advice you hear from friends, family, and yes, even total strangers about what is and isn't safe during pregnancy is enough to confuse anyone. So if you're wondering what's okay to eat and whether you have to give your favorite foods the boot for nine months, check out our guide.
Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy:
Why are some foods off-limits when you're pregnant but fine if you're not? First, changes to your immune system now make you more vulnerable to food-borne illnesses. What would've meant stomach upset before could mean serious complications now from dehydration to miscarriage. So to be safe, avoid the common culprits of food-borne illness:
1. Eggs: Because raw eggs may be tainted with salmonella, a bacterium that can cause fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, watch out for restaurant-made Caesar salad dressing, homemade eggnog, raw cookie dough, and soft scrambled or sunny-side up eggs, any dish in which the eggs (both yolk and white) are not cooked completely. "If eggs are cooked, the risk is gone”.
2. Sushi: Sushi is not safe when you're expecting, either, because it may contain illness-inducing parasites.
3. Unpasteurized Juice: Stay away from juice (like cider) sold at farm stands; it may not have undergone pasteurization, a processing method that kills bacteria and toxins. Though the majority of milk and juices sold in stores today are pasteurized, there are still some brands on shelves that aren't, so read labels.
4. Some varieties of fish: Fish, which boasts omega-3 fatty acids that help baby's brain development, is a great meal choice right now. But some varieties should be shunned due to high levels of methyl-mercury, a pollutant that can affect baby's nervous system. These include swordfish, shark, and tilefish -- all big species that live longer, accumulating more mercury in their flesh. (You may want to avoid these fish entirely during your childbearing years because your body stores mercury for up to four years.
Good news! A few foods you may have thought were forbidden actually aren't during your pregnancy:
1. Soft cheeses: Soft cheeses such as Brie, feta, and Gorgonzola were once considered potentially harmful because they can harbor listeria. Listeriosis, an illness caused by the bacteria listeria, can be passed to the fetus, leading to miscarriage, premature delivery, or stillbirth. However, the FDA now allows soft cheese during pregnancy, as long as it's made with pasteurized milk.
2. Cooked Deli meats: Deli meat is fine during pregnancy as long as you heat it first to kill bacteria (pop your sandwich in the microwave or order a hot or toasted sandwich at the deli just make sure the meat is steaming before you eat it). "It's a pain to heat it, but it would be worse to get listeriosis,” If you would prefer to pass on deli meat, try other high-protein lunches like a veggie burger, a bean burrito, or chicken salad made with some leftover grilled chicken breast and low-fat mayo.
3. Fresh produce: Finally, fruits and veggies should be a staple in your diet, especially during pregnancy, because they're high in vitamins and fiber. But take a few commonsense precautions: Rewash bagged lettuce (even if the label says it's triple-washed) to wash away any possible traces of salmonella or E. coli. In fact, you should wash the outside of all fruits and vegetables even if you're not going to eat the skin. Otherwise you drag the germs into the flesh when you cut it.
Finally, don't rely on the same foods every day. You dramatically diminish your risk of being exposed to something harmful if you eat a variety. What's more, by varying your diet, you'll also deliver a healthy mix of nutrients to your growing baby. It’s good to know that the information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.