What NOT to Eat When You Are Pregnant

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There’s a lot of information out there about what kind of a diet a pregnant woman should be eating to ensure her and her baby’s health.  However, there’s not much information about the kinds of foods that she should avoid.  The truth is that there are common foods that can be detrimental to your baby’s health.  Here is a list of what to avoid when you are expecting:

Avoid Undercooked Meat, Poultry and Eggs – Make sure that all meats that you eat during your pregnancy are completely cooked.  Use a meat thermometer to make sure.  Make sure any processed meats like cold cuts or hot dogs are cooked until they are steaming hot.  A better bet is to avoid these kinds of meats completely during pregnancy.  Don’t buy or eat any kind of raw poultry (chicken, turkey, etc.) that has been pre-stuffed.  Frozen pre-stuffed poultry is OK as long as you don’t thaw it and it goes from frozen to over immediately.  What you are trying to avoid is juices from raw poultry mixing with the stuffing and causing bacterial growth.  Avoid raw or undercooked eggs.  Egg whites and yolks should be cooked until they are firm and not runny.  While you are pregnant, avoid Caesar dressing, raw butter, eggnog and hollandaise sauce, as all of these can contain raw or partially cooked eggs.  Avoid refrigerated meat spreads and pates. 

Avoid Unpasteurized Foods – You should try to include low fat dairy products in your pregnancy diet like low fat milk, yogurt and cottage cheese, but you should completely avoid any dairy products that are unpasteurized.  This includes feta and brie cheeses, blue cheese and many Mexican cheeses such as panela and queso fresco.  Also, do not drink any juices that are unpasteurized.  Your best bet in this area is to carefully read labels and skip anything that is unpasteurized.

Avoid Seafood that is High In Mercury – Seafood is a great source of lean protein and healthy Omega 3 fatty acids which are essential for your baby’s brain development.  However, some seafood and shellfish have very high levels of mercury that has the potential to be damaging to your baby’s developing nervous system.  You should avoid shark, swordfish, tilefish and certain kinds of mackerel when you are pregnant.

Avoid Large Amounts of Vitamin A – Pregnant women who consume too much Vitamin A have a much higher risk of having a baby with birth defects.  The recommended amount that an adult woman should consume is 2,565 IU of Vitamin A per day.  To put that in perspective, 3 ounces of cooked chicken liver contains 12,325 IU and 3 ounces of cooked beef liver contains 27,185 IU.

Avoid Alcohol – If you are pregnant, you should abstain from alcohol completely.  In addition to the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome, which can cause mental retardation, facial deformities, heart problems and low birth weight, a mother’s alcohol consumption can also lead to miscarriage, still birth and brain impairment.  It simply is not worth the risk.

By understanding what kinds of foods to avoid during your pregnancy, you are well on your way to making healthier choices when it comes to your pregnancy diet.

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