Pregnancy: Healthy Eating for Two

Perhaps there’s no better time for women to start eat healthfully than pregnancy—unless of course you’ve been eating healthy all along. The New York Times investigates how women should eat during this precious time. Jane E. Brody reports:
Foods to Avoid

Many popular foods are potentially dangerous during pregnancy. Pregnant women should refrain from the following:

Raw fish and shellfish, a possible source of the parasite Toxoplasma that can cause fetal blindness and brain damage.

Large predatory fish like swordfish, shark, king mackerel and albacore tuna (fresh or canned), which can contain risky levels of mercury. The Food and Drug Administration says to limit albacore tuna to 6 ounces a week, but it is acceptable to eat up to 12 ounces a week of chunk light tuna, shrimp, salmon, pollock and catfish.

Undercooked or raw meat, poultry and seafood. Use a meat thermometer and cook pork and ground beef to 160 degrees; beef, veal and lamb to 145 degrees; whole poultry to 180 degrees; and chicken breasts to 170 degrees.

Unpasteurized milk and soft cheeses — feta, Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, queso blanco, queso fresco and Panela, unless the label says “made with pasteurized milk.” They may contain the food-poisoning bacteria Listeria that can cause miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth or fatal newborn illness.

Hot dogs and deli meats, unless cooked until steaming hot. These can become contaminated with Listeria after processing.
I think knowing what foods to avoid is most important. It’s amazing to see pregnant women eating dangerous foods like under-cooked and deli meats—makes you wonder what they’re thinking. This list is very similar to Dr. Fuhrman’s foods to foods to avoid during pregnancy. From Disease-Proof Your Child:

The real concerns are not microwave ovens, cell phones, and hair dryers. The things we know to be really risky for you and your unborn children are:

  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine, including secondhand smoke
  • Alcohol
  • Medications, both over-the-counter and prescription drugs
  • Herbs and high-dose supplements, vitamin A
  • Fish, mollusks and shellfish, sushi (raw fish)
  • Hot tubs and saunas
  • Radiation
  • Household clear, paint thinners
  • Cat litter (because of an infectious disease called toxoplasmosis caused by a parasite found in cat feces)
  • Raw milk and cheese
  • Soft cheese and blue-veined cheeses such as feta, Roquefort, and Brie
  • Artificial colors, nitrates, and MSG
  • Deli meats, luncheon meats, hot dogs, and undercooked meats

When a pregnant women uses drugs, even aspirin, she and her unborn child can face serious health problems. Also, just because something is natural or purchased in a health food stores does not mean it is safe. Herbal remedies work because of their medicinal properties from naturally occurring toxins; they are not health food. I also advise against dying your hair during pregnancy.

I’d be interested to know. Any readers who’ve had children, which foods were you most adamant about avoiding—call it a little research experiment.
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Jennifer Cochran - July 24, 2007 12:47 PM

I am 7 mos pregnant and claim to be a 75% eat to liver. My most frustrating time regarding diet was the first trimester into the second when my digestive system was slowing down. I could not eat a vegtable without tremendous abdominal disconfort. It took a while before I could eat veggies and beans again, thanks to Beano!! The one thing I would recommend all pregnant women to avoid are the simple sugars/candies and as much processed food as you can. Keep your sugars and sodium levels in check!

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