What foods to avoid during pregnancy and why

Foods that you must avoid during pregnancy and why

Mindful eating is the watchword during pregnancy, as your doctor, family members and friends might have already told you. It goes without saying that women who are carrying should eat healthy and wholesome foods, as the nutrients you consume will get passed on to your baby as well. While some foods like fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains and lean meats are a must-have during this phase, there are some foods you should avoid to prevent infections and birthing issues. This article elaborates on all you need to know about foods to stay away from during pregnancy, and why. Feel free to consult your doctor for more personalised guidance as well, since every woman’s body is unique.

Category 1: To be strictly avoided

Alcohol

Why it’s bad for you

  • There’s a chance that the baby might develop FAS (Foetal Alcohol Syndrome).
  • The foetus’s liver simply can’t process alcohol the way an adult liver can.

Healthier alternatives

Stick to plain water, fresh fruit juices, milkshakes, and smoothies.

Unpasteurized milk

Why it’s bad for you

  • Unpasteurized milk contains harmful bacteria, including Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli and Campylobacter.

Healthier alternatives

  • Drink pasteurized or UHT (Ultra-heated) milk instead.
  • You can also boil the unpasteurized milk before drinking.

Liver products (like liver pate or liver sausage)

Why it’s bad for you

  • These contain too much vitamin A, which can be bad for your developing foetus.

Healthier alternatives

Enjoy lean cuts of chicken or lamb. Just avoid liver.

Certain varieties of cheese

Avoid mould-ripened soft cheese, including camembert, goat’s cheese, brie, and soft blue-veined cheeses like Danish blue or gorgonzola.

Why it’s bad for you

  • They’re made with mould and may contain listeria.
  • Even a mild listeria infection can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, or severe illness in the newborn baby.

Healthier alternatives

  • Some varieties of cheese like cheddar, parmesan and stilton are alright. You can even have these if they’re made from unpasteurized milk.
  • Other cheeses like cottage cheese, mozzarella, cream cheese (paneer), halloumi, and processed cheeses such as cheese spreads are alright if they’re made from pasteurized milk.

Category 2: For occasional indulgence

Caffeine

Why it’s bad for you

  • Coffee, tea, sodas, and caffeinated energy drinks have high levels of caffeine.
  • It can increase the risk of low birth weight, miscarriage, and birthing difficulties.

Healthier alternatives

  • Don’t have more than 200 mg of caffeine in a day, or 1 cup of espresso that is 145 mg.
  • Stick to water, fruit juices, decaf coffee, coconut water, and smoothies.>/li>

Empty-calorie foods

These include all kinds of packaged foods, from chips and nachos to cookies, cakes, and candy.

Why it’s bad for you

  • It’s important to eat nutrient-dense food when you’re pregnant so that the foetus gets all the nutrition it needs to develop properly. Packaged foods are usually very low in nutrition, but high in sugar, fat and empty calories.
  • Eating empty-calorie foods in excess can lead to obesity, gestational diabetes, and birthing issues.

Healthier alternatives

  • Indulge your snack cravings with apple-peanut butter, rice cakes, dry fruits and nuts.
  • Satisfy cravings for junk foods occasionally but be very careful about the portion size.

Category 3: To eat with care

Sprouts

Why it’s bad for you

  • Raw sprouts may just contain bacteria like salmonella, due to the humid conditions in which they sprout.
  • Bacteria may be present inside the seeds. Any bacterial infection is a risk to the baby’s health.

Healthier alternatives

  • Just cook the sprouts before you eat them. They’re a great source of protein and essential vitamins.

Seafood

Why it’s bad for you

  • High-mercury fishes like shark, surmai, kalava and bhekti should be eaten sparingly or avoided. This is because mercury can cause serious developmental problems for the baby.

Healthier alternatives

  • Low-mercury and cooked fishes like rohu, pomfret, hilsa, bangada, shrimps and tilapia are safe pregnancy foods to eat.

Some basic dos and don’ts

  • Don’t undercook your food, especially seafood, eggs, sprouts and meat. Make sure these items are always well-cooked. It’s also best to avoid raw foods from untrustworthy sources.
  • Invest in organic whole foods as much as possible. It can make a huge difference to your overall wellbeing due to the lack of pesticides.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables very carefully to remove all signs of soil and dirt on them. .
  • Soak your fruits and veggies in a solution of baking soda for 10-15 minutes before washing them. This can remove many pesticides.

So, as you can now see, being pregnant doesn’t mean constantly worrying about what foods to eat and avoid. By keeping a few basic hygiene tips in mind and staying away from foods that are fatty, sugary, caffeine-rich or raw, you can ensure good health for both yourself and the little one inside you. And of course, alcohol and smoking should be avoided at all costs.