Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What Not to Eat During Pregnancy - A Simple Guide

Meals and snacks during pregnancy can seem complicated because there are so many things that you should avoid consuming for the health of your baby. In general, any type of food or drink that can harbor illness-inducing bacteria should be avoided. However, substances that can cause contractions and some items that seem safe can cause adverse reactions in your developing baby. Here is your quick guide of what not to consume during pregnancy:

  • Soft cheeses - Brie, goat cheese, Camembert, feta, blue, Roquefort, Gorgonzola, queso blanco, queso fresco and other Mexican-style cheeses. If non-imported cheese is pasteurized it is safe to eat. Cream cheese and cottage cheese are okay.
  • Deli meats. Cold cuts, sausages and hot dogs should be cooked until steaming.
  • Raw meats (Cook meats medium-medium well). The juice from the meats should run clear. Use a meat thermometer to make sure they are cooked to the correct temperature. Avoid raw poultry that has been stuffed, unless you buy it frozen and cook from its frozen state.
  • Raw eggs (including runny eggs). Raw eggs can show up in Caesar salad dressing, cookie dough, cake batter, un-pasteurized eggnog, homemade ice cream, mayonnaise, custards, and Hollandaise sauces. Restaurants are supposed to use pasteurized eggs for sauces, dressings and desserts but you might want to ask before ordering.
  • Raw sprouts like alfalfa, radish, clover and mung bean.
  • Un-pasteurized milk or juice.
  • Smoked seafood like lox, nova style, kippered or jerky. Canned or jarred smoked seafood that is shelf-safe is usually safe right out of the container. If smoked seafood is a cooked ingredient it is safe for consumption.
  • Raw shellfish like oysters, clams, or mussels. Cook shellfish until their shells open.
  • Raw fish. Fish should be cooked until it is flaky and opaque throughout. Shrimp, lobster and scallops should be cooked until they are solid white.
  • Pate or meat spreads that are refrigerated. Shelf-safe meat spreads or pates that are from a can or jar are okay to eat.
  • Unwashed vegetables.  
  • Sage, parsley and parsley seeds. These are all safe in normal culinary use but large doses (e.g. supplements) can cause contractions.
  • Unripe papaya.
  • Herbal teas. A good rule of thumb to follow with herbal teas is to only drink what you can safely eat during pregnancy. Fruit-based and spice teas are generally safe. However, large amounts of red raspberry leaf tea can cause contractions. Many of the ingredients in teas, even those marketed to pregnant women, have not been studied for their safety during pregnancy. Consult your doctor if you are unsure about any teas that you wish to drink. 
  • Large fish like shark, tilefish, king mackerel, swordfish, albacore tuna (canned tuna is okay but still should only be eaten in moderation). Only eat fish 2-3 times a week. For more on which fish have high levels see Mercury in Fish.
  • Fish caught locally from polluted or contaminated ponds. Some fish that are particularly susceptible are bluefish, stripped bass, salmon, pike, trout and walleye. This does not include the fish you buy in the grocery store.
  • Large amounts of vitamin A can cause birth defects. Avoid consuming large amounts of liver or taking vitamin A supplements.
  • Avoid alcohol, it crosses the placenta immediately and can lead to behavioral problems, disorders of the nervous system and physical abnormalities.
  • Limit caffeine to 300 milligrams or less a day. 500 milligrams or more is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage and even less than that has been associated with slower growth rates in fetuses. Remember that caffeine is found in coffee, caffeinated teas (like black, green, English and Irish teas), sodas and chocolate.  
What item has been the hardest for you to give up during pregnancy?

Caffeine [PregnancyWeekly]
Safe Cheeses During Pregnancy [PregnancyWeekly]
Vitamin A and Birth Defects [PregnancyWeekly]
Pregnancy nutrition: Foods to avoid during pregnancy [MayoClinic] 
What Not to Eat When You're Pregnant [Parents]
Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy [AmericanPregnancy]
What Not to Eat or Drink While Pregnant [becomegorgeous]
Parsley And Other Herbal Dangers [pregnancyinfo.net]
Sage Herb [holistic-herbalist]