Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dangerous Diets: Top Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Ask any mom to be and she will be able to tell you how cravings--and just eating in general satisfies something deep inside.  While research proves that women don't actually need excessive calories during their pregnancy, some women use this as a time to say good bye to dieting and hello to indulging in pretty much everything that tastes good. 

What's wrong with that you say? Well, aside from the obvious excessive weight gain that many women experience, not every food is actually safe for pregnant women to eat.  Many common foods can serve as reservoirs for bacteria and toxins that may be harmful to both mother and baby.
Remember--pregnancy is a special time when mom's body must make drastic changes relatively quickly, and the demand on her body results in a weakened immune system.  This weakness results in an increased susceptibility to contract illnesses and have those illnesses last longer, and be more severe.

Sushi (and other raw fish)

While taking a trip to the unlimited sushi buffet may be right up your alley, raw seafood may harbor dangerous parasites and bacteria.  You may feel free to eat fish (avoiding those higher in mercury, like swordfish, tilefish, kingfish, shark and mackerel) but make sure it is cooked thoroughly to remove any invaders that could make you sick.  And yes, tuna is safe--but if you prefer the chunk white version, limit yourself to 6 ounces per week.

Raw Cookie Dough

That batch of chocolate chip goodness, all gooey in the bowl is tempting for many of us. Unfortunately the eggs used to make your next batch of cookies may not be so tempting when you learn that the FDA estimates that one out of every 20,000 eggs sold in the U.S. is tainted with the bacteria salmonella. If you do get a craving for cookie dough, rest assured that you can get your fix--ice cream sold in retail stores is safe.

Raw Sprouts

Sprouts of any kind are unsafe during pregnancy because seeds can become contaminated early in their growth process--making bacteria nearly impossible to remove. Avoid alfalfa, clover and radish sprouts and make sure they aren't added to your food when eating out.

Deli Meats and Hot Dogs

Because the dangerous bacteria listeria can grow at temperatures inside your fridge, make sure to avoid ready to eat deli cold cuts and hot dogs.  Listeria has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage--so stay away, just until you deliver.

Even though it may seem like there's nothing left to eat, take heart.  Feel free to indulge in washed, fresh fruits and veggies, hard cheeses (not soft ones--sorry), and well done beef, chicken, pork and fish until your heart's content. 

It may seem challenging to understand what is safe and what isn't, and giving your baby a great start is undoubtedly on your mind. If you have questions, contact your doctor.

Hey there. I’m Rachel Ballard—I’m a wife, mother, maternal-newborn RN and writer for Dr. Hessel MD.com. If you enjoyed this post, you can find many more medically accurate, easy-to-read posts like it on our women’s health and pregnancy blog at www.drhesselmd.com/blog. Have something to say? Come on over and start a conversation! 

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