Pregnant? What Not to Eat

With the recent recommendation from Consumer Reports that pregnant women should avoid canned tuna completely due to concerns over mercury, we started wondering what else women should be cautious about eating when they’re expecting. Here’s what we found.

Dairy The calcium in dairy foods is very important for pregnant women and the growing bones of baby, so of course you should load up on milk, cheese, and yogurt. The one note of caution here is to avoid unpasteurized, raw milk, which could contain listeria, a harmful bacteria. Soft cheeses such as Feta and Brie are okay to eat, but again, make sure they’re made with pasteurized milk.

Eggs Like your sunny side up a little runny? You’re going to need to start scrambling those eggs. A well-cooked egg for breakfast is a perfect source of protein when you’re expecting, but make sure it’s cooked all the way through to avoid salmonella. Homemade sauces and dressings made with raw eggs, such as Caesar, Hollandaise, and mayonnaise, should also be avoided.

Deli meat Don’t eat lunch meat, bologna, or hot dogs unless thoroughly heated – think steaming hot – to kill any potential listeria. Avoid refrigerated pate or meat spreads as well.

Raw meat Sorry, sushi lovers. Uncooked seafood and rare or undercooked meat should be off your table. They could contain dangerous bacteria or salmonella. Stick to California rolls and enjoy your steaks well done.

Seafood Omega-3 fatty acids in fish are great for baby’s brain development in utero. The same report urging pregnant women to ditch canned tuna also reiterated longstanding warnings to avoid swordfish, shark, King mackerel, and Gulf tilefish, along with other species that should only be consumed at a minimum. The report also provided a great guide to which seafood options are okay to eat, including shrimp, scallops, sardines, salmon, and tilapia.

Caffeine Moderate caffeine intake is fine, although some studies have linked the stimulant to miscarriages. The March of Dimes recommends pregnant women consume no more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day, about the amount in one 12-ounce cup of coffee. Remember that caffeine isn’t just in coffee – it can be in medicines, chocolate, caffeinated soft drinks, even some packaged foods.

Alcohol Although some health professionals have given the green light to a glass of wine or two per week while pregnant, we think just saying no to imbibing is your safest bet. The American Pregnancy Association puts it like this: “There is NO amount of alcohol that is known to be safe during pregnancy, and therefore alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy. Prenatal exposure to alcohol can interfere with the healthy development of the baby.”

Make sure to practice safe food preparation and be diligent about washing your hands. Try not to worry – there’s still a lot you can eat! Load up on fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean meats, and safe dairy products. Enjoy and nurture the little life you’re creating!

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Photo credit: Lauren Kennedy

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