What Not to Eat When Pregnant

Wondering what not to eat when pregnant? Healthy eating in pregnancy means getting a varied diet, but there are some food you need to avoid.

Pregnancy Doesn't Run on Dunkin'
There are some foods that should not be eaten during pregnancy because of the possible risks to the fetus. The biggest food, because so many people eat or drink it, is caffeine. Caffeine is in coffee, tea, colas, cocoa and energy drinks. Caffeine has been associated with an increased risk of miscarriage. Caffeine in moderation may be all right for most women, but limit yourself  to less than 200mg per day, about 2 cups of regular coffee or 5 12-ounce cans of caffeinated soda. During the first trimester, your risk of miscarriage is higher, so it would be better to drink decaffeinated beverages and to avoid products with cocoa in them. Yes, that means no chocolate.

Preventing Food Borne Illnesses
Soft cheeses (brie, goat, camembert, feta, bleu and other veined cheeses) may have listeria if they are not pasteurized. They are not aged like cheddar or parmesan. Pregnant women have a weakened immune system, which increases the chance of getting listeria. If contracted in the first trimester, it can lead to miscarriage or preterm birth. Cheese eating during pregnancy should be limited to hard cheeses and soft cheeses that have been pasteurized.

Cold cuts and hotdogs may also be contaminated with listeria if they're not handled properly at the manufacturing plant or at the deli. Store-sliced meats should be heated to kill bacteria. Beef, pork and lamb should never be eaten rare while you're pregnant. Cook these meats until they are at least medium or medium-well to avoid toxoplasma, which may cause stillbirth or other serious health problems.

Eggs are a great source of protein and other nutrients, such as choline, but some may be contaminated with salmonella. To avoid most risks with eggs, be sure to buy refrigerated eggs and do not use any eggs with cracked or dirty shells. Avoid runny eggs, such as sunny-side up. Avoid unpasteurized eggnog and homemade ice cream as well. 

Seafood Cautions
Mercury, a chemical that is dangerous for the baby, is present in many different types of fish. Mercury is dangerous because it is a neurotoxin that impairs fetal brain development. Mercury from pollution gets into the water, then is ingested by plants and fish, working its way up the food chain. The bigger the fish, the more contaminated it can be. Fish high in mercury include shark, king mackerel, swordfish and albacore tuna and should be avoided.

Canned light tuna has low mercury levels, as do salmon and pollock, so they are good to eat during pregnancy. While pregnant, you need Omega-3 fatty acids, which come from fish. Do avoid all raw fish and sushi.

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