When you hear the phrase “eating for two” while pregnant, you may assume it means that you can double your portions in order to sustain your baby’s growth and development. What it truly means is that whatever you consume will directly affect your baby’s health.
However, determining what to keep in your diet, and what to eliminate, is to not as easy as organizing foods as “good” and “bad”. There are some seemingly healthful choices that may have adverse affects on your baby.
Here are some guidelines for the foods you should not eat during pregnancy – and the ones you should indulge in!
1. High Mercury Fish
Over-consuming fish that are high in mercury, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tuna, can cause developmental delays and brain damage to your child. It is safe, however, to consume no more than 1 or 2 servings per month.
Also, avoid raw fish, such as those found in sushi. Uncooked fish may contain high levels of mercury as well.
2. Deli Meats
Processed and cured meats such as raw hot dogs and lunch meats should not be consumed during pregnancy. These products are at high risk of Listeria contamination – a type of food poisoning that does not pose a serious health risk to healthy, non-pregnant individuals, but for those who have weakened immune systems and are pregnant, the infection can cross the placenta and infect the baby.
In order to consume these foods safely, be sure to reheat the heat until it is steaming. So, good news, you can still eat cooked hot dogs.
Telling a tired, strung-out mother-to-be to eliminate coffee from her diet may seem like a cruel request – so there is good news! A pregnant woman can safely consume up to 200mg per day of caffeine (which is about 2 to 3 cups of coffee). However, do not forget to consider other foods that contain caffeine such as tea, chocolate, soda pop and energy drinks. For example, a cup of coffee and a chocolate bar will put you close or over your safe caffeine limit.
High levels of caffeine, especially during the first trimester, can pose the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight.
Alcohol is a big no-no during pregnancy – there is NO proven safe amount of alcohol consumption that will guarantee no complications with your unborn child. Any amount of alcohol can interfere with the healthy development of your child.
Larger amounts of alcohol consumption can cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), a life-long disorder that can affect your child’s size, behaviors and intelligence. It is a spectrum disorder, which means that symptoms can range from mild to severe.
1. Dairy Products
Dairy products, especially yogurt, provide the proteins and calcium crucial in your baby’s growth and development. Yogurt is especially beneficial since it contains higher levels of calcium than most dairy products and provides probiotics that are important in maintaining digestive health.
2. Cooked Salmon
Even though you should stay away from fish with high levels of mercury, cooked salmon is a safe, healthy and non-mercury choice that provides your baby with omega-3 fatty acids that aid in the development of the brain and eyes.
3. Cooked Eggs
Eggs provide high quality fats and proteins as well as high levels of choline, a macronutrient that helps in your child’s brain development.
During pregnancy, your blood volume increases in order to support the growth of your unborn child. Therefore, your body requires an increase in liquid intake. Overall, you should consume approximately 2 liters of liquid each day, making sure the majority of that is water. A good rule of thumb is to drink only water when you are thirsty and drink until you are satisfied.
This list is not nearly as exhaustive as it could be and it is always a good idea to speak to your doctor or medical practitioner about the foods you should and should not consume.
A healthy baby starts with your healthy choices.