10 Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy
Cravings are quite normal during pregnancy, thanks to the hormonal surge. But you cannot indulge in everything as you must have a balanced diet. While most foods could be safe to include in your daily menu, there are many that should not be had.
Below are some of the food you should avoid when you are pregnant;
1. Smoked seafood:
Do not take smoked and refrigerated seafood, which are labeled as lox, jerky, nova style and kippered as they contain Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. This bacteria causes listeriosis (associated with symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting) that could lead to illness in newborn and even miscarriage or stillbirth. Moreover, processed seafood contains high levels of salt which can lead to increased blood pressure and swelling of the body parts.
2. Raw or undercooked eggs:
You should not eat raw, undercooked, or soft-boiled eggs as they contain harmful salmonella bacteria which cause food poisoning. You may experience diarrhea, severe vomiting, headache, abdominal pain, and high temperature. All these symptoms are unlikely to harm your baby, but your immune system will become weaker, which may impact the baby’s development.
The following foods contain raw egg and must be avoided:
Homemade Caesar dressings, custards, ice creams, mayonnaise and Hollandaise sauces, Béarnaise sauce, Aioli sauce, desserts including mousse, tiramisu, and meringue.
Solution: Buy pasteurized egg products. You can choose commercially manufactured ice cream, mousse, eggnog, and dressings. Eat cooked eggs that contain firm yolks or a well-cooked omelet, and salads.
3. Deli meats:
You should avoid deli meats, also called ready-to-eat meats, such as sandwich meat, cold cuts, lunch meat, hotdogs, and sliced meats. They are known to contain listeria bacteria, which can readily move from the mother to placenta causing serious complications including fetal death.
Solution: Pasteurization and cooking at a high temperature kill listeria. Thus, you should eat deli meats only after reheating until they are steaming hot.
4. Unpasteurized milk:
It is unsafe to drink unpasteurized or raw milk during pregnancy. It has no nutritional advantage, and raw milk and its products account for a higher proportion of food borne diseases. They contain harmful bacteria such as salmonella, listeria, E.coli, and cryptosporidium that can be dangerous to you and your baby.
Solution: Buy pasteurized milk and its products only. In pasteurization, the milk is subjected to a high temperature that kills the disease-causing microbes. You can also choose non-dairy milk such as soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, and oat milk as they are safer and contain similar nutrition.
5. Herbal teas and supplements:
Herbs used for tea, seasonings, or as supplements could harm both the mother and fetus. Certain herbs such as ephedra, angelica, kava kava, yohimbe, black and blue cohosh, dong quai, borage oil, pennyroyal, and mugwort are uterine stimulants, which should be completely avoided during pregnancy.
Comfrey, black walnut, cascara sagrada, fenugreek, echinacea, goldenseal, horsetail, licorice root, saw palmetto, senna, motherwort, St.John’s wort, shepherd’s purse, wormwood, tansy, and uva ursi may lead to miscarriage.
Other herbs that are unsafe to use or ingest are aloe, ginseng, and evening primrose. Also, avoid green tea and wheatgrass juice as there is not enough evidence about their safety during pregnancy. You should also check with your health practitioner before taking too much of nettles, dandelion, or chamomile teas.
Solution: It is better to have a hot cup of regular chai or tea rather than herbal tea. If you are worried that you are losing out on any benefits of herbal tea, then ask your doctor to prescribe a health tonic or multivitamin.
6. Canned foods:
Canned foods, including fruits, vegetables, and sodas are harmful for two reasons :
- The lining of the food cans contains Bisphenol A (BPA), a toxic substance that affects the fetal endocrine activity and causes fertility problems, cancer, liver ailments, and heart diseases in pregnant women and the tinned foods might be too old to eat and harbor harmful bacteria due to their long shelf life.
- Canned pasta, soup, and infant formulas contain high BPA levels. Also, canned tuna and tuna salads contain high mercury levels that are poisonous for the mother and the fetus.
- Solution: Opt for fresh vegetables, fruits, and fish or you can find varieties where BPA is not used. Wash the canned fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consumption. Choose seasonal choices so that you get to eat fresh fruits.
Stay off from hot or cold foods that have been at room temperature for more than two hours. They are likely to harbor bacteria.
Solution: Eat freshly cooked foods. If required, store the leftover in the fridge and reheat thoroughly (up to 165°F) in clean utensils.
Disclaimer: Before you include or avoid any of the foods mentioned in the above list, consult your gynecologist or healthcare provider.
Also, follow a few safety tips to ensure that you have a healthy pregnancy.
8. Fatty foods:
Avoid trans-fats or hydrogenated fats including fast foods, processed foods, and takeaways such as crackers, cookies, frozen pizza, fried foods, margarine, and frosting. Also, the American Heart Association recommends limiting the trans-fats to less than 1% of your total calorie intake, to avoid the risk of heart diseases, obesity, increased fetal growth, and preterm labor.
Solution: Discuss fat-free options with your doctor for proper advice and recommendations. Foods containing omega 3, 6, 9 fatty acids are vital as they are essential for you and your growing fetus. They are abundant in olives, nuts, avocados, flax seeds, and fish. However, do not binge on them.
9. Nitrate-rich foods:
Avoid cured sandwich meats, bacon, deli meats, sausages, salami, and hot dogs as they contain nitrates. Nitrate enhances the food’s color and improves shelf life. But on consumption, the nitrates turn to nitrosamines in the bodies, increasing the chances of cancer in mothers and abnormalities in the fetus. Nitrate-rich foods also contain sodium and saturated fats which may be badduring pregnancy.
Solution: Eat well-cooked and lean cuts of your favorite meals to be on a healthy and safer side.
10. Excess caffeine:
Higher amounts of caffeine could increase your chances of miscarriage and low birth weight babies.You should limit your intake to 200mg a day. Caffeine is also found in tea, chocolate, and many energy drinks. Some research studies reveal that caffeine is associated with premature birth and withdrawal symptoms in infants.
Other drinks to avoid during pregnancy are soft drinks, diet soda, alcohol, and iced tea.
Solution: Opt for decaffeinated beverages, especially in your first trimester as the risk of miscarriage is high.