Eating Healthy During Pregnancy

Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Eating healthy during pregnancy is essential for your growing baby. I completely understand the dread in giving up your morning grande mocha... but come on, you can do anything for 9 months! Healthy eating also means safe eating during pregnancy. Here are some vital tips for keeping you and your baby safe and healthy on your exciting journey!

  • Time to reduce your caffeine intake to no more than 200mg a day. Not only does caffeine put you at risk for dehydration, but high amounts of caffeine can interfere with your baby’s growth and development and increase the risk of low birth weight. An 8 oz cup of coffee has about 100mg of caffeine while and 8 oz tea has about 40mg and a 12 oz soda has about 35mg (diet soda has even more than regular…47mg!) So those are the obvious ones. Don’t forget chocolate has caffeine (1 oz of dark chocolate has 26mg) and one cup of coffee flavored frozen yogurt weighs in with 86 mg. It sure can add up fast on your pregnancy diet! Trouble cutting back…mix half caffeinated coffee with half decaf or swap out your caffeinated sodas for caffeine-free sodas like Sprite.
  • Avoid unpasteurized cheeses (soft cheeses) such as blue cheese, feta, brie and Camambert. These foods may cause Listeriosis. The bacterium Listeria Monocytogenes can cause and infection. It has the potential to cross the placenta which can be fatal to the baby. Yogurt, cream cheese, cottage cheese and hard cheese are all okay.
  • Chicken or seafood dish that are left to chill (ready to eat seafood), liver and liver pates should be avoided for the same reason as unpasteurized cheeses (above).
  • Deli meat is also known to be contaminated with Listeria which can cross the placenta leading to an infection (same as soft cheeses). Love your deli sandwiches…always reheat the meat until it is steaming to prevent this.

  • It is best to avoid raw seafood (such as sushi, oysters and clams) on your pregnancy diet. Raw seafood carry the risk of hepatitis and intestinal parasites
  • Uncooked or undercooked eggs, poultry, and other meats such as beef. These undercooked foods can cause Salmonella, a common of food poisoning. Often, Salmonella does not affect the baby. However, severe cases have been known to cause miscarriages and pre-term labor. Bottom Line: Make sure your meats are cooked thoroughly.
  • Fish containing high levels of mercury (heavy metals). Swordfish, Tile Fish, King Mackerel and Shark all known for accumulating high levels of mercury in their fatty tissues. Ingesting high levels of mercury can cause the baby to have brain damage that leads to developmental delays. Canned tuna has lower levels of mercury but should still be eating in moderation.
  • You should also avoid fresh water fish such as salmon, trout, pike and walleye, along with stripped bass and blue fish. They run the risk of being contaminated with PCBs (an industrial pollutant). Consumption of large amounts of PCBs by mom-to-be are linked to a decrease in the baby’s IQ, attention and memory (according to The March of Dimes). It wouldn’t hurt to check with your local health department to ensure which fish are safe to eat (only applies for locally caught fish not prepackaged at the grocery).

  • All artificial sweeteners (aspartame in Equal and Sucralose in Splenda to name a few) have been approved by the FDA during pregnancy EXCEPT for saccharin. Still, I suggest using them in moderation or avoid them altogether as studies are still being conducted.
  • Alcohol…this is a big one! There is no amount of alcohol that has been proven to be safe for the fetus. It has the potential to interfere with the development of the baby and can lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. So, it is just best to abstain from alcohol while following your pregnancy diet. Side note…a baby is exposed to alcohol when breastfeeding too.
  • Remember to always thoroughly wash your vegetables to remove any heavy metals. Toxoplasmosis may contaminate the soil in which the vegetables are grown. When infected during the early months of pregnancy the baby is at risk of mental retardation, low birth weight and premature birth just to name a few.

Eating healthy during pregnancy can be confusing and scary! Don’t hesitate to “just ask” and speak with a dietitian directly regarding your pregnancy diet.

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