During pregnancy, it is common to experience food cravings. But that does not mean that you should just eat whatever you like. Eating well-balanced and healthy foods is more important now that you eat for yourself and your developing baby.
In addition to eating healthily, you should take note of the foods that you must avoid during this time. It is not just because of its high content of unhealthy ingredients, but because of its possible harmful effects that might lead to avoiding untoward incidents. To give you more insights, here are some of them:
While it is unclear whether caffeine intake directly affects your baby, it still can freely cross the placenta, so you must monitor your consumption just to be safe. As caffeine is a diuretic, a substance that promotes the body’s expulsion of salt and water, essential in the placenta, it is best to avoid drinking or eating food that contains it during your first trimester to reduce the risk of miscarriage.
If you would still like to take your daily dose of caffeine, there is a rule that it must not exceed 200mg per day or a 12-ounce cup. It also applies to foods that contain caffeine, such as soda, tea, and chocolate. Monitor your daily intake so that it does not go beyond the recommended dose. For coffee lovers, do not worry as it would only be a few months of caffeine control.
Undercooked or raw meat
Undercooked or raw meat has a high risk of contamination by harmful bacteria such as coliform, salmonella, and yersinia. Meat under this qualification also includes cold cuts, deli meats, other ready-to-eat meats, and refrigerated meat spreads. Eating contaminated food would lead to food poisoning, harming both you and the baby.
To prevent such occurrences, you must ensure that the meat you eat is cooked correctly to eliminate these harmful microorganisms before you have the chance to consume them. Make sure that before consumption, the meat does not have a trace of pink to guarantee that is cooked well.
Undercooked or raw seafood
You might have a craving for sashimi or other raw seafood delicacies, but during pregnancy, it is best to avoid raw meat and raw seafood. They might contain harmful bacteria that can also lead to food poisoning. Moreover, you must also avoid ready-to-eat cold-smoked or cured fish since they might be contaminated with listeria bacteria that can lead to listeriosis, which might lead to complications, such as miscarriage, stillbirth, or illnesses when the child is born.
Similar to undercooked or raw meat, the seafood that you will eat should also be thoroughly cooked to kill all the harmful microorganisms that might pose a risk to your health.
There is no amount of alcohol proven safe for intake during pregnancy. Drinking even a tiny amount can risk your child’s prenatal development, so avoiding alcohol would be your best route. If you risk drinking, you can have a higher chance of miscarriage, prematurity, and stillbirth. Furthermore, your child might develop developmental disorders such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which causes facial malformation and cognitive disability.
If you drank alcohol before knowing about your pregnancy, use a due date calculator to see when the date of conception is for you to know whether you drank while you are pregnant. If in case you did, inform your doctor about it.
Eating or drinking dairy products, especially low-fat ones, is healthy even for pregnant women. But you must avoid unpasteurized products like soft cheeses and freshly-squeezed juice as they might contain Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli, and Campylobacter, which are sources of foodborne illnesses. A healthy person might be able to recover quickly from most of the infections brought by these microorganisms, but it might bring life-threatening effects to your unborn baby.
To prevent risk to your pregnancy, it would be best to consume pasteurized products since this process includes heating liquid at a high temperature for a short period, which then eliminates harmful bacteria without destroying the product’s nutritional value.
Unwashed fruits and vegetables
Eating fruits and vegetables is a must to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. But wash them thoroughly under running water to remove harmful bacteria and parasites, such as toxoplasmosis, which might have contaminated the soil where the products are grown or passed on to it at any part of its processing. People infected with the parasite toxoplasma usually do not show symptoms, but it can cross the placenta of pregnant women, which might lead to visual loss and cognitive disabilities once the child is born.
Aside from thoroughly washing the products, you should cook sprouts properly – do not eat them raw, as bacteria might already be present in the seeds even before they begin to grow. It would be impossible to remove by only washing under running water.
Eating raw eggs poses a risk of salmonella food poisoning. Pregnant women should avoid food that contains raw eggs, like mayonnaise and cake batters. However, you can consume commercially-made ones as they are already processed, but make sure to store them properly to avoid contamination. You should also prevent the consumption of dirty or cracked eggs since they have a higher chance of exposure to harmful bacteria.
Eggs are generally safe for pregnant women, but make sure that they are pasteurized or completely cooked to ensure that they are free from contaminants.
Eat mindfully to keep your pregnancy healthy
Whatever you eat contributes to your and your baby’s health during pregnancy. It is important to remember the list of food you must not eat during pregnancy so that you would be able to discern whether you should eat this or that. It can also help you check if the ingredients and the processes it underwent do not contain possibly contaminated consumables.
Furthermore, if you have any allergies, it is also best to avoid foods that may trigger it and consult your doctor for the best advice. Being mindful of what you eat can not only improve your overall health but also reduce the risk you might encounter during pregnancy.