Good food is a celebration of life. But celebrating two lives does not mean consuming double the amount of food. Pregnancy nutrition is not empty calories. A woman with normal weight should put on weight by up to an average 25-35 pounds (11-15 kgs), to support the baby weight; extra nutrients, blood, fluids; enlarged breast and uterus. A pregnant woman might need around 300 extra calories a day than compared to the non-pregnancy stage. These calories should be derived from nutritious food.
Fishes are rich in omega-3 fatty acids - DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) combo. Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for baby's brain development. But, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended complete avoidance of swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, and shark which are high on methylmercury. This metal can damage the developing nervous system of the fetus. Salmon, sardines, pollock, herring, shrimp, catfish, clams, cod, tilapia, anchovies, and trout have relatively lower mercury levels and other pollutants.
It is safe to consume 12 ounces (340 grams) of fish a week. Consumption of canned white and canned light tuna should be <6 ounces (170 grams) a week as it may also have high levels of mercury.
Raw or Undercooked Eggs
Undercooked and raw eggs can be the source of harmful bacteria, like Salmonella Enteritidis and others. It may cause diarrhea and vomiting. Avoid foods that contain them for example raw cake batter, raw cookie dough, filling; homemade or restaurant mayonnaise, sauces, custards, dressing, mousse and tiramisu (they contain raw eggs); egg-fortified beverages, runny eggs that are not properly cooked.
Undercooked meat and poultry may be contaminated with Campylobacter, E.coli, Salmonella, Toxoplasma gondii, listeria, and coliform bacteria. These can lead to miscarriages and fetal damage.
Refrigerated pate or meat spreads too contain these harmful bacteria Listeria. Choose the canned version.
Beef, veal, pork, lamb roasts, chops, steaks should be cooked to at least 145 degree F - 165 degree F. Hot dogs, cold cuts, luncheon meats, deli-style meat or sausages should be reheated to 165 degree F before consuming them. All poultry should be cooked to 165 degree F or (74 degree C).Salmonella poisoning may cause diarrhea and vomiting, headache
Unpasteurized Dairy Products
Unpasteurized milk and soft cheese made from unpasteurized milk is found contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacterium. Other harmful bacteria found are Campylobacter, E. coli, Salmonella or Tuberculosis. Pasteurization kills harmful bacteria. Cheese like Brie, Roquefort, Feta, Camembert, Queso Blanco & Fresco are made with unpasteurized milk. Cheddar cheese and Swiss cheese are hard and safe to be eaten. During pregnancy around 1000 milligrams per day of calcium is to be consumed.
Unwashed Fruits and Vegetables
Unwashed raw fruits and vegetables like lettuce, cabbage, other leafy vegetables are tainted with pesticides and harmful bacteria especially Toxoplasma gondii. These are not tantamount to eating healthy during pregnancy. Raw fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly rinsed with running water. When dry, a vegetable brush can be used to remove the dirt on the surface. Never use detergents, soap, or bleach solutions to clean the raw fruits and vegetables. Discard damaged and bruised areas where harmful bacteria can thrive.
Raw Vegetable Sprouts
Sprouts as the name signify is life. However if they are the treasure house of nutrients, they are also a Trojan house for E.coli, Salmonella, Listeria. Salads and sandwiches at restaurants should not have raw sprouts. Owing to the weak immunity, pregnant women are more susceptible to this bacterial infection. These bacteria can lead to diarrhea, fever, nausea and they can create complications. FDA has recommended complete avoidance of raw sprouts for pregnant women even if they are home grown. Pregnant women can consume boiled or cooked sprouts of alfalfa, bean, clover, radish, or any other.
Nuts that cause Allergies
Pregnant women who are allergic to any particular nut should avoid it. Few symptoms associated with an allergic reaction are skin rashes or swelling in body parts. Non-allergic mothers can eat nuts. Having nuts can build immunity in babies against allergies. Nuts like peanuts, cashew nuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, and pistachios are highly beneficial for babies. They are a rich source of folic acid, omega-3 fatty acid.
Preferably avoid caffeine totally. It is one of the foods to avoid during pregnancy. High levels of caffeine multiply the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, abortions during pregnancy and also causes babies to have low birth weight. Caffeine-related products are coffee, tea, chocolate, energy drinks, coffee-flavored products, like yogurt and ice cream. In unavoidable circumstances, limit the intake to 200 milligrams a day. Intake of more amounts can risk fetal deaths.
Raw and undercooked fish like sushi and raw shellfish, like oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops are home to several pollutants, parasites and bacteria. Seafood-borne illnesses are caused by undercooked fish and shellfish. Pregnant women should avoid undercooked fish and shellfish. Raw wild fishes that are used to make sushi contain parasitic worms. For pregnant women, the safest way to enjoy sushi is to choose the fully cooked or vegetarian varieties. Cooking helps prevent some types of infections. Cook them to 145 degree F and relish the smoked seafood.
Unpasteurized juice contains several harmful bacteria like salmonella, E.coli. Freshly squeezed juice from raw fruits and vegetables are not pasteurized. To safeguard against bacterial infection avoid them or let them boil for few minutes, before they are consumed.
Foods that can be consumed are pasteurized juice which is refrigerated or frozen; shelf-stable juice found in non-refrigerated sections; freshly squeezed juice boiled for over few minutes.
Restaurant Made Salads
Restaurant made salads may contain raw and uncooked meat, chicken, ham, sprouts, seafood, fish or eggs. They are the cache of Campylobacter, E. coli, Salmonella, Toxoplasma gondii, listeria, coliform bacteria. Salad items may contain unpasteurized cheese and milk. The fruits and vegetables may not be washed properly. Mayonnaise, sauces, and some dressings, may contain raw eggs. The risk and precautions of these have been elucidated earlier.
The advisory is that pregnant women should stay away from eating canned food. Food stored in plastic containers or plastic bags, liquids in PET bottles exposed to the sun should also be avoided.
They contain a chemical BPA or bisphenol-A which can leak into the food on heating.
BPA may increase the chances of infertility and miscarriage. Canned foods are likely to have high salt content and lead to water retention in the body, causing edema in the legs.
Avoid foods that contain added nitrates and nitrites. These foods are synthetic food preservatives; processed foods; cured sandwiches and cured meat products such as hot dogs, sausage, bacon, salami and cold cuts. Naturally occurring nitrates in food come along with vitamin C and other compounds. These hinder conversion into nitrosamines which are related to the risk of developing cancer that leads to fetal abnormalities.
Artificial Sweeteners and Empty calories
Pregnant women need extra 300 calories per day to support the growth of the fetus, but the extra calories should not be derived from artificially sweetened drinks, diet soda and junk food. It is always best to talk with a health care provider regarding the use of artificial sweeteners. Mothers with gestational diabetes and increased weight over and above 40 pounds had overweight, obese children. Pregnancy nutrition does not accommodate empty calories.
NO Alcohol during or before pregnancy. Keep away from wine, beer, wine coolers, eggnog, alcohol. It results in premature birth, stillbirth, miscarriage, birth defects affecting the development of the brain and other organs. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) among children is associated with intellect and development related disabilities. It has no place in eating healthy during pregnancy.
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